July 9, 2011 by staff
‘Rockefeller’ Imposter, A German immigrant who posed as a member of the famous Rockefeller family appeared in court Friday to face charges of murdering his own over a quarter century after he fled the state. Guilty pleas were entered by a judge of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who spoke only to give up their right to a speedy trial.
Prosecutors believe he murdered Jonathan Sohus, who disappeared along with his wife Linda in 1985. Gerhartsreiter rented guesthouse of the couple in the wealthy enclave of San Marino in northeast Los Angeles, and left town shortly after his disappearance.
Prosecutors, however, did not file charges against Gerhartsreiter until March after being convicted in a kidnapping case in Massachusetts.
Outside court, attorney Gerhartsreiter, Jeffrey Denner, acknowledged that it is unusual to have charges after so long, but said “the old case, new case, he did not.”
Denner said the resignation could be a significant amount of time before the case goes to trial; the defense immediately went to get 9,000 pages of discovery material to the prosecution.
“They’ve had 26 years to put together and that’s just the beginning,” he said.
An August 16 hearing was set in Los Angeles County Superior Court to determine a date for a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to sustain Gerhartsreiter for trial.
Gerhartsreiter was already serving a prison term in Massachusetts after a 2009 conviction for kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter of an elaborate scheme in which he hired two people to take them to New York.
At the time of his arrest in Baltimore in August 2008, Gerhartsreiter had been living under the Rockefeller name.
Detectives in California had long considered a person of interest Gerhartsreiter in the death of 27-year-old Sohus, who disappeared at the same time, a man named Christopher Chichester, was staying at a guest house on the property.
The man called Chichester had ingratiated himself quickly to the community and people said it was a British aristocrat.
Over the years, have become Gerhartsreiter identities often telling people that he was a physicist, an art collector, captain and financial advisor to renegotiate the debt of small countries.
In his view, kidnapping, prosecutors said Gerhartsreiter used aliases to get around in circles high in Boston, New York and Los Angeles. His strange story has become the subject of a TV movie.
Skeletal remains were found in the backyard of the house Sohus in 1994 when new owners were digging for a pool. The bones are believed to belong to Jonathan Sohus. His wife is still missing.
Lawyers Gerhartsreiter is claimed in the trial of 2009 suffering from a delusional disorder and was legally insane when he took his daughter during a supervised visit in Boston, after a bitter divorce from his wife.
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