Fake Rockefeller Charged in 1985 Murder

Man who passed himself off as Clark Rockefeller allegedly killed California man.

ByABC News
March 15, 2011, 7:34 PM

March 15, 2011— -- A con man who posed as a Rockefeller, a rocket scientist and a heart surgeon to ingratiate himself with the wealthy, was charged today with murder in the 1985 killing of a California man.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 50, a German immigrant who used the name Clark Rockefeller and claimed to be a member of the famed family, was charged in Los Angeles with murdering a San Marino man whose body was discovered a decade after he disappeared.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian filed the complaint this morning in Alhambra Superior Court, asking that Gerhartsreiter be extradited from Massachusetts, where he is in prison for kidnapping.

Gerhartsreiter was convicted in June 2009 of absconding with his 7-year-old daughter during a supervised visit and assaulting a social worker with a dangerous weapon when the man tried to protect the little girl.

In the new charge, Gerhartsreiter is accused of murdering John Sohus, 27, who was last seen in early 1985.

At the time, Gerhartsreiter, then calling himself Christopher Chichester, was living in the Sohus family guest house at their San Marino home, police said. Shortly after John Sohus disappeared, so did Chichester.

In May 1994, a body was discovered buried in the backyard of the Sohus home, and the remains were later identified as those of John Sohus. An investigation determined he was killed by blunt force trauma to the head.

Balian will ask that bail be set at $10 million for Gerhartsreiter when he is arraigned, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office.

Gerhartsreiter faces 26 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

"Based on all the information that I have, I believe in his innocence," Gerhartsreiter's attorney, Jeffrey Denner, told The Associated Press in Boston. "I'm very interested in seeing what new evidence that the government has come up with that prompted them to the point of actually charging him."