Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter- The german immigrant, imposter and murderer

A homeowner in San Marino, California, was planning to build a pool. So on May 5, 1994, a few workers arrived at the house and started digging the backyard. Within a few minutes, they discovered a horrific sight that shocked the whole city and had media flocking to the site.

Well, they discovered the skeletal remains wrapped in cellophane and plastic bags. It was the body of a newlywed young man, John Sohus, who was reported missing in 1985. 

John and Linda Sohus

John Sohus and his wife, Linda Sohus, were reported missing in 1988. And the house where his body was found was previously owned by his mother, Ruth Didi Sohus. However, the body or whereabouts of his missing wife, Linda Sohus, still remained unknown. Both of them were in their early 20s.

Interestingly, one more person was missing, and his name was Christopher Chichester, along with his pickup truck of John. Christopher was a guy who self-proclaimed to be a descendant of British royalty. Christopher was the guest house tenant.

In 1988 the police discovered the pickup truck 3000 miles away in Greenwich, Connecticut. They learned about a new man called Christopher Crowe who was trying to sell it. Furthermore, they discovered that Christopher Crowe and Christopher Crowe are the same people. The suspect slipped off the radar once again, and police were unable to locate him.

Interestingly, the officers had given hope of catching the killer until 14 years when Clark Rockefeller was arrested in 2008 for kidnapping his seven-year-old daughter during a custody visit. 

Clark Rockefeller was a guy who claimed to be a part of the Rockefeller family. His identity helped him woe and marry a wealthy businesswoman, Sandra Boss. Clark was living a lavish life off of the wealth of his wife, Sandra. 

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter with his wife Sanda Boss

As time passed, she was getting suspicious of her husband; Clark didn’t seem to have access to the Rockefeller fortune or connections. So Sandra hired a private investigator to dig into Clark’s background. It turns out that his real name was Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. He has no relationship with the Rockefeller family.

Moreover, she was dissatisfied with his secretive and controlling behavior. 

Eventually, Sandra divorced Christian and paid USD 800,000 in the settlement. Christian was given limited access to his daughter on supervised visits.

But, Gerhartsreiter abducted his 7-year-old daughter during a court-supervised visit in Boston on July 27, 2008, taking her to Baltimore, Maryland, where he had already set up a new identity as Chip Smith, a yacht captain. During a highly publicized manhunt, the police captured Gerhartsreiter outside his Baltimore home on August 2. 

The girl was unharmed. Christian Gerhartsreiter was sentenced to five years in prison. It was such a high-profile case that it got a lot of media coverage.

As a result, people in San Marino, California, saw his face on T.V. and right away identified him as Christopher Crowe, the man who was missing in the John Sohus murder case.

On August 15, 2008, the FBI, the Massachusetts State Police, the Boston Police Department, and the Suffolk County District Attorney announced that Clark Rockefeller had been positively identified as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. A forensic examination conducted by the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, conclusively identified him as the missing man, Christopher Crowe. 

In March 2011, he was charged with John Sohus’s murder, and based on the DNA testing, they were able to confirm that Christian was the killer. Moreover, multiple witnesses testified against Gerhartsreiter. The witnesses confirmed that they saw strange-colored smoke coming from the chimney around the time of the murder. Few of his then-friends told the jury about Christian asking where he could dispose of drums filled with “chemicals.” The jury found more evidence pointing to Christian’s guilt.

On April 10, 2013, he was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-seven years to life.

So who is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter?

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, better known as Clark Rockefeller, was born in West Germany on February 21, 1961. His journey to America began in 1978 when he was 17 years old. He arrived in the United States on a tourist visa and quickly disappeared into a life of aliases and deception.

He lived in the U.S. for 16 years, conning people and passing himself off as a member of the famous Rockefeller family. He first arrived in the U.S. in 1978, using multiple aliases in Boston, New York, and L.A. 

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, commonly known as Clark Rockefeller, has been using aliases since he arrived in the United States in 1978. He used Christopher Rider, Christopher Crowe, Chip Smith, and Clark Rockefeller, starting with the alias Christopher Chichester. The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts estimates that Rockefeller has at least a dozen different aliases. His aliases also include Christopher Kenneth Gerhart and Charles. U.S. Eric McCormack portrayed him in an Amazon movie based on the story and his life of aliases.

In December 2016, he was transferred to San Quentin State Prison.