April 11, 2013 Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In his world of pretense, the little man in spectacles became many fabulous people from royalty to a Rockefeller until his charades finally ended with a conviction under his true name — Christian Gerhartsreiter — a German immigrant guilty of a cold case murder.
A jury found Wednesday that the past had caught up with him. He was no longer Clark Rockefeller, heir to a fabled oil fortune, or Chris Chichester, the 13th baronet of England or even Chris Crowe, a producer of an Alfred Hitchcock mystery TV show.
"I've never known anyone with the ability to become so many people," said jury forewoman Kristen Lee, an attorney. "But his character was his character. We were more concerned with the evidence."
She and other jurors found that Gerhartsreiter, who lived briefly in California in the 1980s, killed John Sohus, a 27-year-old computer programmer who was the son of the defendant's landlady. Sohus and his new wife, Linda, vanished under strange circumstances in 1985. No trace of her has been found.
But the discovery of a bag of bones in a pit being dug for a swimming pool at his former residence gave new life to the missing persons case in 1994. It took another nine years for authorities to put together the pieces of the baffling circumstantial case.