The so-called Rockefeller impostor was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for a cold-case murder. Despite the conviction and sentencing, 52-year-old Christian Gerhartsreiter proclaimed his innocence again.
The German immigrant invented a new life for himself in the United States by pretending to be an heir to the Rockefeller fortune. He was able to fool his friends, several lovers, an a wife during the three-decade charade.
Gerhartsreiter was convicted in April of the murder of John Sohus, who disappeared along with his wife Linda in 1985, reports ABC News. Sohus was the son of the defendant’s landlady.
Sohus’ bones were discovered in the backyard of a suburban San Marino home where the Rockefeller impostor once lived under a false name. Gerhartsreiter also vanished around the same time and began his masquerade as Clark Rockefeller and several other identities.
While no trace of Linda has been found, Gerhartsreiter hinted at a recent hearing that he may have information about where she is. He has never given additional information.
After he was convicted, CBS News notes that the German immigrant fired his lawyers and took on a new role as his own attorney. However, he failed to file the required paperwork to ask for a new trial.
The case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence, though the discovery of the bones inside the same backyard as Gerhartsreiter used to live added a crucial piece of evidence to the puzzle. Publicity over his conviction in Massachusetts for kidnapping his own daughter led investigators to re-examine the cold case in California.
Along with calling himself Clark Rockefeller, the German immigrant was also known as Chris Crowe, Chip Smith, and several other aliases. He spent time in New York, Connecticut, and Boston while working his way into high society. He married a wealthy woman and controlled her money.
However, his identity came to light when he kidnapped his daughter in a custody dispute. Jurors took just six hours to convict the Rockefeller impostor of murder. It is unclear if Gerhartstreiter will appeal the sentence.