'Rockefeller' is German sought in Calif. case - Crime & courts - MSNBC.com

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'Rockefeller' is German sought in Calif. case
Los Angeles officials 'positively identify' him in 1985 disappearances
The Associated Press
updated 12:55 p.m. PT, Mon., Aug. 11, 2008
LOS ANGELES - A Boston kidnapping suspect is a German man who lived in the guesthouse of a California couple who disappeared in 1985, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.

Spokesman Steve Whitmore said investigators “positively identified” Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter as the man being held in Boston and wanted for questioning in the disappearance of Jonathan and Linda Sohus.

Gerhartsreiter had been living under the name Clark Rockefeller. Police have said he snatched his daughter from a Boston street on July 27 in an elaborately planned kidnapping in which he hired two people to drive them to New York.

He was caught Aug. 2 in Baltimore, where he had bought a home and boat.

Gerhartsreiter went by the name Christopher Chichester when he was a guest at the San Marino home of the couple now presumed dead. Chichester has long been suspected in their disappearances.

The alleged aliases appear to reflect a twisted life of multiple identities that unraveled last week. If authorities and reports are to be believed, Gerhartsreiter was many things besides the suspect in the California disappearances:

As Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, he lived with families in Connecticut until he wore their hospitality thin.
A teen husband who left his wife in Wisconsin a day after they wed.
A Wall Street bond salesman named Christopher Crowe, who talked a good game but rarely closed a deal.
A stay-at-home dad who lived in a $2 million brownstone in Boston's tony Beacon Hill neighborhood until his wealthy wife divorced him when she grew suspicious of his background.
Rockefeller has refused to speak to authorities and remains jailed in Boston without bail. His attorney, Stephen Hrones, reiterated Friday that Rockefeller can't remember anything before 1993.

"We have all these different stories from everywhere. He says he doesn't remember anything. He's my client and I believe him until I see solid evidence that he's not who he says he is," Hrones said.

Hrones said that although his client has no memory, he vehemently denies any involvement with the disappearance and presumed deaths of Jonathan and Linda Sohus of San Marino, Calif.

"There are certain things you know you didn't do," Hrones said.

Los Angeles police said Rockefeller's prints matched those on an old license application submitted by Chichester, who has long been a suspect in the disappearance of Jonathan and Linda Sohus.

Rockefeller's prints also match those on a stockbroker license application filed under the name Christopher Crowe, The Boston Globe reported Friday, citing unnamed law enforcement sources.

'You found my brother'
The strongest word on his true identity came Friday, when a man in Germany told reporters Rockefeller was his brother, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, the son of an artist and homemaker in Upper Bavaria who felt like he was better than his modest upbringing.

"It seems you found my brother," Alexander Gerhartsreiter said upon being handed a photograph of Rockefeller by a Boston Herald reporter who visited his home. "It is really a shock."

He said his older brother was born Feb. 21, 1961, in Siegsdorf, Germany, and was raised until 1978 in the same house where his family still lives today. Gerhartsreiter said his brother moved to Connecticut as a student and never returned, initially keeping in contact but out of touch since he called his parents in 1985 — the year the couple in California and their tenant Chichester disappeared.

Hrones said Rockefeller speaks German but does not remember living in the country or having a German brother. He said Rockefeller remembers only "tidbits" of his childhood — including going to Mount Rushmore in a station wagon and having a Scottish nanny.

Gerhartsreiter said his brother had told his family he had taken the name Christopher Chichester because his given name was too difficult for Americans.

"I think Germany was too small for him," Gerhartsreiter told a Boston Globe reporter who also visited him at his home Friday. "He wanted to live in the big country and maybe get famous. Now that I see all this, he's really famous."

Hrones said Rockefeller's memories begin around 1993. In 1995, he married Sandra Boss, a senior partner in the London office of the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. She has not responded to requests for comment left with her employer.

At least two families in Connecticut said Rockefeller is certainly the same young man who came to live with them when he was a teenager.


'Better than the rest of us'
Steve Savio, 39, of Berlin, Conn., said his family met him after answering an advertisement in a newspaper from a visiting German teen looking for a place to live.

"I recall him thinking he's better than the rest of us," Savio said. "I recall him telling stories about having servants growing up and like that."

Savio said he last saw the man he knew as Christian Reiter in 1981 but said he kept in contact with his mother, telling her he was using the name Christopher Crowe to open a production company. Savio said the FBI interviewed his mother in 1988 after a man identifying himself as Christopher Crowe tried to sell a pickup truck in Connecticut belonging to the missing Californians, Jonathan and Linda Sohus. He apparently fled before authorities could track him down.

Crowe is also the name on the stockbroker license application with fingerprints linked to Rockefeller, according to the Globe. A former colleague at Nikko Securities International, Richard Barnett, told the newspaper, "The man knew very little about corporate bonds."

Records reviewed by The Associated Press show that after Gerhartsreiter left Connecticut, he went to Wisconsin, where he married 22-year-old Amy Jersild on Feb. 20, 1981, at the Dane County courthouse in Madison. He was 19 at the time — and the marriage enabled him to get a green card.

He left the next day, according to divorce records Jersild filed 11 years later. On them, she listed his address as "unknown."


Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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