Rockefeller Impostor Sentenced for San Marino Murder

The investigation into a 1985 slaying led to Christian Gerhartsreiter, who posed as a member of the famed Rockefeller family, after the victim's remains were found in a Southern California backyard

By Jason Kandel
|  Thursday, Aug 15, 2013  |  Updated 3:49 PM EDT
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Fake Rockefeller Murder Conviction Provides "Answers"

Christian Gerhartsreiter

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"Fake Rockefeller" Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder

Prosecutors say that while jurors delivered a guilty verdict on Wednesday, the case against a Rockefeller family imposter was a steep hill to climb, with plenty of circumstantial evidence. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 10, 2013.

Fake Rockefeller Murder Conviction Provides "Answers"

"What I have now are a lot of answers that I never believed I was going to have," Ellen Sohus, step-sister of murder victim John Sohus, said after a guilty verdict was handed down Wednesday in the case of a man who posed as a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family. Raw video from April 10, 2013.
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A German national and con man who posed as a member of the wealthy Rockefeller family was sentenced to 27-years-to-life in prison for the 1985 murder of a man in San Marino, Calif.

Christian K. Gerhartsreiter, 52, who blended into wealthy East Coast circles by posing as a member of the famous Rockefeller family, was convicted in April of first-degree murder in the killing of John Sohus, in whose guesthouse Gerhartsreiter lived for a time under an assumed name. Sohus' wife, Linda, was never found and is presumed dead.

Sohus' half-sister, Ellen, said that her brother's death was like being "hit by a hurricane." She said she fought to keep from lashing out at Gerhartsreiter during victim impact testimony on Thursday.

"If I let it out, I would not be able to reel it back in," she told reporters after the court hearing.

In court, Gerhartsreiter proclaimed his innocence, saying Linda Sohus killed her husband.

Sohus’ remains were unearthed in his family's backyard in the affluent city of San Marino north of Los Angeles a decade after he disappeared. He died from a blow to the head with a blunt object.

Gerhartsreiter was a con man who crisscrossed the country under assumed identities, including as Clark Rockefeller, a descendent of the billionaire founder of the Standard Oil Company. He killed Sohus when he learned of Gerhartsreiter's plan to extort Sohus' stepmother, prosecutors said.

Gerhartsreiter was charged in the murder in 2011 while he was serving a prison sentence in Massachusetts for kidnapping his daughter.

Gerhartsreiter fired his lawyers and failed to file required paperwork asking for a new trial.

A judge denied his request to read a handwritten motion of many thousands of words in open court.

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