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Murder charge adds to strange saga of claimant to Rockefeller oil

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LOS ANGELES » A new chapter in the strange saga of a man who claimed to be a member of the storied Rockefeller family has opened with the filing of a murder charge in the disappearance of a Southern California man more than 25 years ago.

Los Angeles prosecutors filed the charge Tuesday against Christian Gerhartsreiter, a 49-year-old German national who came to the United States as a teenager and then assumed many identities. One of them had been as Clark Rockefeller, a supposed heir to the Rockefeller oil fortune.

He became notorious after his arrest several years ago in Baltimore on a charge of kidnapping his daughter. By then, he had spun different and elaborate tales about his past, telling friends and acquaintances that he was a physicist, an art collector, a ship captain and a financial adviser who renegotiated debt for small countries.

Police had long considered him a person of interest in the killing of 27-year-old John Sohus in 1985 when Gerhartsreiter was living at the home of Sohus’ mother in San Marino, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said.

Sohus’ body was unearthed from the backyard of the house in 1994. An investigation determined he was killed by blunt force trauma to the head. Sohus’ wife, Linda, remained missing.

 

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