Criminal Justice

Fake Rockefeller found guilty of first-degree murder in real trial


A German native who made headlines by posing among the well-to-do in New England as a member of the Rockefeller family and kidnapping his own daughter several years ago has been found guilty of first-degree murder in a California man’s death, decades earlier.

Despite missing evidence and the difficulty, for witnesses, of remembering what had transpired so many years ago, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 52, was found guilty by a Los Angeles jury after only one day of deliberation in the death of John Sohus, 27, according to the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog and the Whittier Daily News.

Sohus, the adult son of Gerhartsreiter’s landlady, disappeared in 1985. His body was eventually found buried behind a guest house in which Gerhartsreiter lived in 1985.

Among the evidence that helped convict Gerhartsreiter were plastic bags, apparently from the 1980s, wrapped around the skull of the victim, whose body had reportedly been cut into several pieces. One was from the bookstore of the University of Southern California. The other was from the bookstore at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Gerhartsreiter had attended classes at both institutions, either at the time Sohus disappeared or previously.

Defense lawyers argued that their client was a con man, not someone who participated in violent crime.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Fake Rockefeller to Face Real Trial in 1985 Murder Case”

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