Clark Rockefeller – AKA Karl Gerhartsreiter – Master Con Man

// December 25th, 2012 // Strange

Introduction

He’s a brilliant con man who managed to convince Boston’s elite that he was a rich heir. He hosted lavish parties, drove expensive cars, and even owned a yacht.  Despite the apparent riches, he had no job and no apparent source of income. He was a person of interest in a double homicide who has changed his persona multiple times, all the while avoiding the probing eyes of the police. He even married a high profile attorney, convincing her he was a member of the Rockefeller family. After kidnapping his own daughter, police finally discovered the true identity of Clark Rockefeller.  He was Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German immigrant with a penchant for lying.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was born February 21, 1961 in Germany to Simon and Irmgard Gerhartsreiter, a painter and homemaker. Disinterested with life in Germany, he came to the United States in 1979 as a foreign exchange student landing in Berlin, Connecticut. Assuming the name Christian Gerhart Reiter, he moved in with the Savio family and attended a local high school. Mysteriously, he soon begins telling some people that his last name is Chichester.

Christian takes on the Chichester Alias

Two years later, Christian took on a new alias, Christopher Chichester XIII the 13th baronet of Chichester (he took his new name from a local librarian), and moved to Elm Grove, Wisconsin where he met and married Amy Jersild Duhnke on February 20th at the Dane County courthouse in Madison.  His quickfire marriage wasapparently an attempt to obtain his green card (his visa had expired) and permanent residency in the United States. He left the marriage the very next day.

The move to San Marion California

In 1982, Christian moved to San Marion, California. Locals noted that he often claimed that he was related to an English lord. In the years that followed, Christian successfully posed as a NASA physicist, a mathematician, a Pentagon officer, an art dealer, a Wall Street broker (he was fired for not making his sales quota), and a cardiac surgeon. He even ran his own public access cable television show where he interviewed local politicians and renowned socialites. Carol Thompson Campbell recalled a brief date with Christian and noted, “I knew he was a liar. He drove this cheap Datsun pickup with sticky notes posted all over the car like little reminders, almost like they were to keep track of the stories he was telling.”

In 1985, Christian (still going by Christopher Chichester) moved into a tenement home on Lorain Road in San Marino.  The home was owned by Didi Sohus, the mother of Jonathan Sohus, and his wife Linda Sohus. That same year, the couple disappeared without a trace – as did Chichester. Shortly before leaving San Marino he changed his hair style and a local neighbor recalled Chichester telling him that this was his last haircut because he was leaving for England. Ironically, Christopher Chichester was pulled over in Greenwich Connecticut driving the Sohus vehicle but the couples’ disappearance had not been reported to the authorities yet so they let him go.

Police again nearly caught up with their Sohus person of interest in 1988. A man calling himself Christopher Crowe, who shared Chichester’s fingerprints, encountered trouble with police in Greenwich, Connecticut, when he attempted to sell John Sohus’ pickup truck to the son of a local minister. By the time police verified the fingerprints belonged to Chichester, he and the truck were long gone.

Christian becomes Clark Rockefeller

In 1993, Christian moved to New York and took on the name Clark Rockefeller, claiming to be the offspring of the entrepreneur dynasty. It was during this time, in 1994, that a couple building a swimming pool in their back yard, came across the body of Jonathan and Linda Sohus buried deep in the ground. John’s parents had believed that they were in Europe on a “secret mission”. Police immediately sought Christopher Chichester who had disappeared around the same time.

Clark Rockefeller soon met Sandra (Sandy) Lynn Boss (Sandy’s sister, Julian, introduced them), a Harvard MBA graduate and highly successful attorney whom he met at a lavish social party. They married in 1995 after a two-year courtship. Under the auspice of security concerns, Christian explained that he had no identification papers. Given such, their wedding was held in a small Quaker church in Nantucket, where officials did not require proof or identification normally needed for a legal marriage. After moving to Boston and five years after they were married, they had a daughter, Reigh “Snooks” Rockefeller, in 2000.

In Boston, Clark Rockefeller used his name to bolster his reputation. He became a member of Boston’s ultra exclusive Algonquin Club and continued to build connections with the elite businessmen of the area. Clark hosted lavish parties at their home, purchased expensive artwork and paintings (some forged), and splurged on bottles of thousand dollar wine.

Rockefeller Marriage gets Rocky

The marriage between Christian and Sandy Boss grew rocky when his behavior began to become abusive and it became clear to Sandy that Christian was not quite what he seemed. The couple fought frequently about Christian’s excessive spending habits, Sandy proclaiming that she could not work all the billing hours it took to support his spending habits. She caught him in minor lies on several occasions and became concerned that she was the sole provider of income (she made around $2,000,000 a year) and Christian was spending more and more of their money on lavish and extravagant purchases. When she mentioned divorce, Clark would argue and proclaim that he would change his habits. He became more and more controlling forcing Sandy to leave him briefly in 2000.

When Sandy hired a private investigator in 2006 to look into Christian’s daytime activities, she was shocked to discover that he was living under an alias and was certainly not a Rockefeller. Although she did not discover his true identity at the time nor the extent of his deception, she filed for divorce. Since Christian could not prove his identity, Sandy had all the leverage in the case and fought for full custody of Reigh giving Christian little room for negotiation. Christian settled with her for $800,000, their wedding ring, a dress he had given her, and two of their cars.

According to Sandy:

I came from a place where people didn’t jaywalk. It never occurred to me that I was living with someone who was lying about such basic stuff. I’m not saying I made a good choice of husband. It’s pretty obvious I had a blind spot. All I’m saying is, it’s possible for a person to be brilliant in some areas and stupid in others. There’s a difference between emotional intelligence and intellectual intelligence.

The Kidnapping

Regardless, Christian was given limited and supervised visitation rights with Snooks. On his first visitation with Reigh on July 27, 2007, he grabbed 7-year-old Reigh and with the help of his chauffeur, managed to toss her into a waiting SUV vehicle, barely escaping the supervising social worker (who was injured in the kidnapping after grabbing a hold of the speeding vehicle and being drug behind it). Boston police reports noted that the father, daughter, and a social worker were in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood at the intersection of Marlborough and Arlington streets, traveling on foot from the Four Seasons Hotel Boston to the Boston Common when the sport utility vehicle drove up and Christian jumped in.

Once more, Christian changed his identity taking on the alias of Charles Chip Smith, and hitched a ride to Baltimore, Maryland with Aileen Ang claiming he had a new boat that he had to get to quickly. Ang noted that he rode in the backseat during the trip and appeared fidgety and nervous. Christian insisted that Ang not use her cell phone during the drive, claiming he and his daughter had a headache. Upon arrival at the marina, Christian hastily hopped out of the car.  At the same time, Ang received a call from a friend about a Amber Alert for a missing girl names “Snooks”. She immediately called the FBI and filed a report.

Shortly after arriving in Baltimore, Charles began the process of purchasing a $450,000 home near the marina. With his 26-foot catamaran (the “Puma”) parked safely at the marina, Christian spent most of the next six days with Reigh indoors playing games with his daughter.

When police surveillance finally nailed down Christian’s exact location on August 3, 2008, police had the local yacht master and marina owner call Christian telling him that his precious yacht was taking on water and about to sink. When Christian, AKA Clark Rockefeller, left his home, he was surrounded by the police and arrested for kidnapping.

Sandy Boss has since moved to London with her daughter Reigh and is overseeing the operation of an McKinsey & Compan branch located there.

Known aliases of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter include Clark Rockefeller, Chris C. Crowe, Chris Chichester, Charles Smith, and Chip Smith, among others.

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