SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

April 11, 2013

Rockefeller impostor convicted of murder

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A German immigrant who spent decades posing as an heir to the fabled Rockefeller oil fortune and using other identities was found guilty yesterday of first-degree murder in the death of a man whose bones were found buried nearly 20 years ago at a suburban home.

Christian Gerhartsreiter, 52, was convicted in the heavily circumstantial case that went to trial 28 years after the disappearance of newlyweds John and Linda Sohus.

Much of the prosecution’s evidence focused on the strange behavior of the man who went by many names, including Clark Rockefeller.

“Sometimes you’re afraid that this guy’s conned so many people for so many years that this will be the one last time he pulls off his last con,” Deputy District Attorney Habib Balian said after the verdict. “But that didn’t happen.”

Balian said the passage of time always makes cold cases difficult.

“But the circumstances never change,” he said. “Every piece of evidence was important.”

The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for less than six hours over two days.

Before it was read, Gerhartsreiter entered the courtroom smiling, and his lawyers said later he was hopeful and optimistic. He did not show any reaction when a court clerk read the decision convicting him of killing John Sohus.

Ellen Sohus, the victim’s sister, said later that she was unsure if the verdict brought closure after so many years of uncertainty about the fate of her brother and his wife.

“I don’t know if you can really have closure with something like this,” she said. “What I have now are a lot of answers that I never believed I was ever going to have.”

Defense attorney Jeffrey Denner told jurors during his closing argument on Monday that there was reasonable doubt of his client’s guilt. After the conviction, he said Gerhartsreiter might have been his own worst enemy.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • Rowley Market Basket donates bread to food pantries

    ROWLEY — As the Market Basket boycott heads into a second week, organized by employees seeking to return Arthur T. Demoulas as CEO, some shoppers are left wondering what’s happening to the remaining perishables and bread still on the grocery store shelves.
    The answer to that question, in Rowley at least, is don’t let it go to waste.

    July 29, 2014

  • Police Peabody Sunday Animal control was called to Morgan Road at 6:23 p.m. on a report of two Labs "running in and out of traffic." The pair was gone by the time officials arrived. Police were called to Cedar Grove Cemetery at 7:57 p.m. on a report of thre

    July 29, 2014

  • 140765_SN_DLE_FESSENDEN4 Special Spaces transforms two downstairs rooms into playroom for Riley Fessenden

    BEVERLY -- What happens when the perfect kid-friendly playroom appears in your house overnight? Beverly's Fessenden kids were mostly speechless when they returned from seeing "The Little Mermaid" on Saturday and got their first look at the playroom t

    July 28, 2014 10 Photos

  • Beverly Hospital courier loses patients’ lab forms

    BEVERLY -- A courier for Beverly Hospital last month lost lab request forms for 54 patients that included names, health insurance identification numbers and, in some cases, Social Security numbers. The courier misplaced the forms, which were in a zip

    July 28, 2014

  • Big plans for three parks in the Point neighborhood SALEM -- One will be overhauled, another created from scratch, and a third will get a spiffed-up community garden. It's a good time to be a park in the Point neighborhood. The densely packed area just south of the city's downtown is on the verge of i

    July 28, 2014