Rockefeller kidnapping, clark Rockefeller, rockefaker
Lisa Poole/AP

Clark Rockefeller, Man of Many Identities

August 25, 2008 04:26 PM
by Shannon Firth
Police have confirmed that Clark Rockefeller was born Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter in Germany; the conman accused of kidnapping his own daughter has used multiple aliases throughout the years.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter Faces Accusations of Kidnapping, Murder, Fraud


Clark Rockefeller, who is accused of kidnapping his daughter and adopting a series of identities throughout his lifetime, told authorities, “I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to remember. I don’t lose much thought over it.” Rockefeller was responding to questions over his refusal to offer proof of his identity during divorce proceedings last December.

According to The Boston Globe, “the man authorities have identified as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, the German-born son of a modest Bavarian couple who has lived in the United States under a dozen aliases, wanted one thing to be clear, saying, ‘I am Clark Rockefeller.’”

“Gerhartsreiter is at the center of the longest con I’ve seen in my professional career,” said Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk County district attorney in Boston. Conley announced on August 15 that authorities had finally confirmed Gerhartsreiter’s identity by matching a fingerprint on a wine glass to one found on an old immigration document.

Police worked for several weeks to establish Rockefeller’s identity. He was arrested on charges of kidnapping his seven-year-old daughter, Reigh Boss, on July 27. Reigh was safely returned to her mother, Sandra Boss, on August 2. Rockefeller and Sandra Boss separated in 2007.

The Australian reported that “the couple divorced in part over ‘identity issues.’”

Background: Tracing the mystery of ‘Clark Rockefeller’

Clark Rockefeller (whose real identity was then unknown) was captured in an apartment in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. His missing seven-year-old daughter, Reigh Boss, was recovered unharmed.

Rockefeller was refused bail at a preliminary hearing in Boston on August 5. That same day, Rockefeller’s fingerprints were matched to a driver’s license application in another state; the name on that application, Christopher Chichester, was a suspect in the long-ago murder of a newlywed couple, Jonathan and Linda Sohus, in California.

According to the Associated Press, former neighbor Steve Savio said his mother was questioned by the FBI in 1988 when a man using the name Christopher Crowe attempted to sell a truck that was registered to Sohus

Rockefeller’s attorney denies any connection to the murder, as well as the proposition that Rockefeller could be guilty of kidnapping with respect to his own daughter.

As the Boston Globe notes, Rockefeller had been the primary caregiver since Reigh’s birth. Yet in their divorce settlement, he gave Boss custody of Reigh in exchange for their $1.5 million estate. Authorities suspect he took the settlement to avoid surrendering his birth certificate. Following the decision in December, Boss took Reigh with her to London.

Evidently, Rockefeller had second thoughts and kidnapped Reigh during a supervised visit at his Boston home on July 27. Police, following Rockefeller’s hints to the getaway drivers, initially believed he planned to escape on a yacht.

Two months ago, Bruce Boswell, a Baltimore resident, met with Rockefeller and sold him a catamaran—not the “yacht” Rockefeller had described. The sale was completed after hours at an Obsidian Realty office he falsely claimed to own. According to the Baltimore Sun, Rockefeller “punched in an alarm code, entered the office and wrote up a bill of sale.”

Rockefeller told Boswell about his plans to buy and renovate a historic theater in West Baltimore, spoke as though he operated in posh circles in New York, and “said negative things about women.”

Police caught Rockefeller following a tip from Obsidian employees. Thomas Lee, Boston Police Superintendent said, “The way he operates, I’m sure he would have started a new life in high-society circles, and probably become an upstanding Baltimore citizen.”

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