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Court upholds kidnapping convictions of ‘Clark Rockefeller’

Christian Karl GerhartsreiterJohn Tlumacki/Globe Staff/2008

A Massachusetts court has affirmed the convictions of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, the con man who called himself Clark Rockefeller.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today upheld Gerhartsreiter’s convictions on charges of parental kidnapping and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

Gerhartsreiter’s kidnapping of his own daughter on July 27, 2008, sparked a nationwide manhunt that ended about a week later when he was arrested by the FBI in Baltimore.

Soon after, questions began to arise about the man who called himself a “Rockefeller” and a bizarre tale of a human chameleon began to emerge, a young man who had immigrated to America from Germany and then posed as an aristocrat for a number of years.


The story took a dark twist when questions were raised about the disappearance of a young couple in California in the 1980s. Gerhartsreiter, who called himself Christopher Chichester at the time, occupied the guest house of the young man’s mother. Gerhartsreiter was charged in March 2011 with killing John Sohus in San Marino, Calif., in 1985.

The three-judge panel of the appeals court today rejected a variety of challenges by Gerhartsreiter, including claims that his right to a fair and impartial jury had been violated by pretrial publicity, that the judge had improperly admitted certain testimony, and that the evidence on the assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge was insufficient.

Gerhartsreiter was sentenced to four to five years in prison on the Massachusetts charges.

The opinion was written by Justice R. Malcolm Graham.