Fake Rockefeller case: Ex-San Marino police officer testifies
The San Marino neighborhood where the man sometimes known as Clark Rockefeller lived was affluent, the kind of place where neighbors knew each other and were protective of each other.
Residents would call the police if there was a car they didn’t recognize, said Joe Lucero, a former San Marino police officer. They had an active neighborhood watch program and “knew each other’s day-to-day activities,” Lucero said.
In 1994, Lucero was called to a bizarre scene on Lorain Road, he testified in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday. A human skeleton had been unearthed by workers digging a pool.
“San Marino is a very exclusive neighborhood,” he said. “Something like that just doesn’t happen.”
Lucero was called to the witness stand on the first day of testimony in the murder trial of German-born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who is accused in the killing of 27-year-old John Sohus, whose remains were found by the workers, authorities said.
In 1985, John and Linda Sohus vanished and were never seen again. Linda remains missing, and authorities have said they presume her to be dead.
Gerhartsreiter -- known to the Sohuses as Christopher Chichester -- lived in the guest house the couple shared with John Sohus’ mother. He was known by numerous aliases, including Clark Rockefeller, a member of the billionaire family and New England high society.
Prosecutors have said the evidence will show that Gerhartsreiter, now 52, killed Sohus and buried his body in the victim's San Marino backyard.
Gerhartsreiter’s attorney, Brad Bailey, said he was "a strange guy, an odd guy," but that did not prove he committed "a murder that nobody witnessed."
Gerhartsreiter, using the Rockefeller name, was arrested in 2008 on suspicion of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter. He was convicted in Massachusetts in that case and extradited to California while serving a four- to five-year prison term. He was charged in 2011 in connection with John Sohus' death.
-- Hailey Branson-Potts
Photo: Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter in June 2001. Credit: Lisa Poole / Associated Press