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Elusive 'Clark Rockefeller' figure charged in 1980s slaying of San Marino man

March 15, 2011 |  3:26 pm

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Twenty-six years after a San Marino couple disappeared from their home, Los Angeles County prosecutors Wednesday charged an elusive German national with murder in the slaying of the husband.

The charge against Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter caps a sensational murder mystery that took a bizarre twist in 2009 when officials dug up the couple's backyard searching for evidence. John Sohus' body was found buried in the backyard in 1994, but Linda Sohus' body has not been found.

Gerhartsreiter rented a guest house from the Sohuses in the early 1980s, using the name Chichester. But in 1985, the couple disappeared, and soon after, Gerhartsreiter left.

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Police investigated the disappearance, but the case didn't go far. Nine years later, though, as a new homeowner constructed a swimming pool, workers uncovered what is believed to be Jonathan Sohus' skeleton from the backyard.

Gerhartsreiter surfaced again in 2009 under the name Clark Rockefeller, claiming that he was a member of the famed family. He was accused of abducting his daughter during a supervised visit. He was later convicted. 

He faces 26 years to life if convicted of murder.

[Updated at 5:10 p.m.: In the single-count indictment, prosecutors allege Gerhartsreiter used a “blunt object” to kill John Sohus, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.]

RELATED:

Grand jury investigates missing San Marino couple

L.A. prosecutors could be forced to act if Clark Rockefeller is freed in kidnapping

Clark Rockefeller sentenced to 4 to 5 years in prison for kidnapping

-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: The Sohuses in family photo; Gerhartsreiter in Boston court in 2009.

Associated Press

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