LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Christian K. Gerhartsreiter, a man who posed as a member of the famous Rockefeller family, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the death of a San Marino man 28 years ago.
The six-man and six-woman jury, who began deliberating Tuesday morning, found Gerhartsreiter guilty of murdering John Sohus in February 1985.
The 52-year-old defendant, who pleaded not guilty in July 2011, expressed no emotion as the verdict was read.
“I don’t know if you can really have closure with something like this,” the victim’s sister, Ellen Sohus, said. “What I have now are a lot of answers that I never believed I was ever going to have.”
Gerhartsreiter was living in a guest cottage at the home of Sohus’ mother in San Marino in 1985 when Sohus and his wife went missing.
Witnesses said the man, who then called himself Chris Chichester, vanished.
Sohus’ bones were unearthed during excavation of a swimming pool on the property in 1994. His wife is still missing.
Gerhartsreiter was eventually found on the East Coast, living under aliases such as Christopher Crowe, Chip Smith and Clark Rockefeller.
He had married a wealthy woman and controlled her funds, but his identity unraveled when he kidnapped their daughter during a custody dispute. She testified that he became increasingly paranoid when police begin inquiring about him.
When he was unmasked, he became the subject of magazine articles, true crime books and TV movies that sought to explore his bizarre story and get to the heart of the man behind the pseudonyms.
The resulting publicity led California authorities to revisit the Sohus disappearance. They realized the man in custody in Boston was not an heir to the Rockefeller fortune but was the man who had lived in San Marino decades earlier.
Gerhartsreiter was charged with Sohus’ murder in 2011 while he was serving time in Massachusetts for the kidnapping of his daughter. He was close to the end of his sentence when he was extradited to California.
Gerhartsreiter, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 26, faces 27 years to life in prison.
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