Yesterday, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller, was found guilty of the 1985 murder of a California man.
Gerhartsreiter, who became infamous for posing as a member of the wealthy and legendary Rockefeller family for years, was found guilty of the first-degree murder of John Sohus, who was the 27-year-old son of Gerhartsreiter’s former landlady. He was convicted despite the fact that there were no witnesses, evidence, or clear motive for the murder. Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian argued that the circumstantial evidence alone was enough to convict him.
The conman could face up to 26 years to life for Sohus’ murder. He previously served a five-year sentence for the 2009 kidnapping of his daughter. The story of the kidnapping, as well as Gerhartsreiter’s troubled past and web of lies, was featured in the 2010 Lifetime movie Who Is Clark Rockefeller? (Random fact: Gerhartsreiter’s daughter is nicknamed “Snooks,” much like our beloved Jersey Shore star, Nicole Polizzi!)
According to ABC News, Gerhartsreiter moved to the United States from Germany in 1978, when he was 17 years old. He then took on several identities and charmed his way into higher and higher circles of society; he claimed to be, at various times, a cardiologist, Hollywood producer, Wall Street venture capitalist, physicist, art collector, ship captain, and distant descendant of British royalty, all before he assumed the identity of a Rockefeller heir, fooling nearly everyone, including his wife, for a great length of time. His con was called the “longest-running con in FBI history.”
The murder of John Sohus occurred in 1985, when Gerhartsreiter was living under the name Christian Chichester, and living in Sohus’ mother’s guest house in San Marino, California. ABC News reported: “During his stay, John Sohus and his new wife Linda told friends they were going to New York on a trip, but never returned. Then Chichester also vanished.”
The mystery of Sohus’ sudden disappearance remained a cold case until 1994, when the new owner of the San Marino home discovered Sohus’ skeletal remains in the backyard. By that time, Gerhartsreiter was living in New York under the identity of Clark Rockefeller.
The story of the murder as well as the custodial kidnapping in chronicled in Who is Clark Rockefeller? Check out the trailer for the film below. (Also: check out the identity of the person you’re dating/married to. Gerhartsreiter’s successful cons makes me suspicious of everyone now!)