Friday, March 29, 2013

Murder LA 000020

by James Cohen

According to the FBI, Christian Gerhartsreiter came to the United States from Germany as a student in the late 1970's. In the 2008 video embedded below, he tells NBC reporter Natalie Morales that he doesn't remember that but has some recollections of growing up in America. He claims he believed his name to be Clark Rockefeller, and that it was given to him by "the one person to whom [he] always looked up, the one person [he's] known since [he] was small." The biggest mystery is why Morales doesn't ask who the Name Bestower is.

Gerhartsreiter is currently on trial in Los Angeles for the murder of John Sohus, the adult son of his landlady back in San Marino in 1985. Back then he was going by the name Christopher Chichester, which, like Rockefeller, also had a dubious connection to fame; Sir Francis Chichester was a renowned yachtsman.

Susan Coffman, a close friend of Sohus' wife, Linda, testified that she had planned to attend a science fiction convention with the now missing woman. Linda called Susan one day to say the couple were going to New York for some kind of secret government job John had got but would be back in time for the convention. That was the last time she spoke to either of them, though she received a postcard from Paris ostensibly from her friend. The prosecution claims Gerhartsreiter got someone in Europe to send out postcards to maintain the illusion of John and Linda Sohus still being alive, while the defense claims Linda may have sent the postcards herself to maintain the slightly different illusion that she had not murdered her husband and fled the country. Another witness said that she had similarly received a postcard from Gerhartsreiter years before that, which somehow came from England where he claimed to live, despite residing in Los Angeles at the time.

A San Marino officer visited Gerhartsreiter to question him soon after the disappearances and says the man answered the door nude and refused to put clothes on, claiming to be a nudist. According to another officer, who talked to the missing man's mother, Gerhartsreiter's landlady, she was convinced that her son and daughter-in-law were away on some kind of top secret mission.

Gerhartsreiter left a few months later, allegedly using the new aliases Christopher Crowe and Clark Rockefeller on the East Coast.

In 1994, however, a team preparing the Sohus' backyard for a pool found John's body.

In the Today Show segment from 2008, Gerhartsreiter was already in jail for kidnapping his daughter.

This is a developing story, as new information comes out during the proceedings, so expect more oddness to come, like Gerhartsreiter's Japanese ex-girlfriend who for some reason decided to stay with him for years, even after receiving a call from police looking for him, which he told her was a ploy by people looking to harm both him and his parents. Apparently she accepted this and went on the run with him. She says he changed his name to Rockefeller when they passed through Camden, Maine, because the Rockefellers were known to stay there and got special treatment.


The Daily Beast has the strange story of a murder trial with no body. Lyle Herring is standing trial for the murder of his wife, Lesley, who has been missing for four years. He claims that they had planned to take a trip to Mexico without informing friends, family, or work, but she disappeared after they had a fight. He went ahead to Mexico to see if she had done likewise and, according to a real estate agent, to pass himself off as a millionaire interested in buying a nightclub.

He apparently put a coffee receipt in Lesley's purse to confuse the police, which was discovered because Starbucks had him on video making the purchase. His web search history reportedly shows only mundane phrases like "Which Country Do I Flee to?" and "Do I need a passport?" [Note: "Which Country Do I Flee to?" is given as a website but the Daily Beast is, surprisingly, the one and only search result for the phrase on both Google and Bing.]

This article is also notable for the revelation that the Los Angeles County Coroners Department has a cadaver dog named Indiana Bones.


The Machine of Death Kickstarter mystery goals were revealed, and the numbers 826 refer to a partnership with local non-profit "dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write." 826LA's Time Travel Mart will carry the game and host a Machine of Death event on June 2nd in Mar Vista (which, if you were planning to Google, is near Culver City).