I spent quite some time today trying to cobble together casefiles for Jonathan and Linda Sohus. They disappeared in 1985, but their story exploded into the international news back in 2008 after the person in their interest in their cases, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter aka Chris Chichester aka Clark Rockefeller aka half a dozen or so other names kidnapped his daughter and was on the run with her for a week. The abduction was a big thing because of the Rockefeller name — that’s what he was calling himself at the time, though he’s no relation to the Rockefeller family. Anyway, the child was found safe and sound and returned to her mother, and Gerhartsreiter is doing five years; his appeal just got denied.
The whole story is like something out of a bad movie. If books haven’t been written about this guy already, I’m sure some are coming. Gerhartsreiter was born in West Germany and moved to the US when he was only about seventeen. For no apparent reason, he lied to everybody about his past and tried on different identities as if they were clothes. He reminds me of that woman who stole Brooke Henson‘s identity, attended Harvard and Columbia, and pretended to be a chess champion. Gerhartsreiter tried to give the impression of being a super wealthy, sophisticated guy, and sometimes he claimed to be related to royalty. His wife (the mother of the child he kidnapped) had been married to him for twelve years before she realized everything he told her about himself was untrue. And this was not a stupid woman — she went to Harvard and Stanford and makes zillions at some high-power financial job. I’m sure she still gets the willies when she thinks about her ex.
So Gerhartsreiter was renting a cottage from the Sohuses when they disappeared in 1985 — not exactly without a trace. Linda’s family and friends got postcards signed with her name, and someone even called her former boss asking for a reference. And Jonathan’s body turned up buried on the property in 1994. Unfortunately, they can’t identify it 100%. He was adopted and no one knows where his bio-family came from, so they have no DNA to compare with. I’m not sure what happened to the teeth, other than that the cops don’t have them — they may have been cremated with the rest of the skeleton after it was discovered. But if the skeleton is not Jonathan but some other short guy, it’s quite a coincidence.
Jonathan was murdered, beaten to death. As for Linda…no one knows what happened to her, whether she really survived and is perhaps still out there somewhere. Investigators seem to believe she is dead and possibly Gerhartsreiter burned her body in his fireplace. Why he would have wanted to kill them, I don’t know. Perhaps they found out something about him that he didn’t want them to know.
It’s an especially sad case. The Sohuses sound like such a nice couple. Newly wed, very much in love with each other. Both of them very intelligent, driven, talented people. Jonathan graduated from one of the best tech schools in the world and worked for NASA, and Linda was starting to make it as an artist. They could have gone far. It’s such an awful waste, and a terrible loss for their families.
I highly doubt Gerhartsreiter is going to talk anytime soon. He strikes me as the kind of person who prides himself on his ability to con people, and now he’s probably enjoying watching everybody twist in the wind. Right now he’s pulling the tired old “amnesia” gag and claims he can’t really remember his life before he became Clark Rockefeller in 1993. I just hope the cops are going to come up with something before he gets released on the kidnapping charge, gets deported to Germany and then disappears again. This is a very dangerous man here. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out he had killed other people besides Jonathan and Linda.