- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 13, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) | Blaming a faulty memory, the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller has repeatedly denied allegations of an alias-filled past and any link to a California couple who disappeared 23 years ago.

Now he says he is starting to remember.

More than a week after being charged with kidnapping his daughter from Boston, the man has admitted using aliases and knowing the newlyweds who went missing in 1985.

His attorney said his client remembers only “bits and pieces” of his life before 1993, but authorities said they have figured out much of the man’s past and have deemed him a “person of interest” in the couple’s disappearance.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators said Monday that Mr. Rockefeller’s real name is Christian Gerhartsreiter, a German national who has used several aliases since arriving in the U.S. as a student years ago.

Homicide detectives confirmed his identity after interviews with people who knew him in California in the 1980s, spokesman Steve Whitmore told the Associated Press.

Investigators have also said a fingerprint on a stockbroker’s license application under one of his aliases, Christopher Chichester, matched Mr. Rockefeller’s prints.

Mr. Rockefeller, who is being held in Boston on the kidnapping charge, is also being investigated for the disappearance of Jonathan and Linda Sohus.

Under the Chichester name, he rented a guesthouse at an estate owned by Mr. Sohus’ mother in San Marino, a wealthy enclave about 10 miles northeast of Los Angeles, investigators said. The couple were young newlyweds living with the mother when they vanished in 1985.

Mr. Rockefeller’s attorney, Stephen Hrones, said Mr. Rockefeller told him that he barely knew the Sohuses and that the couple left while he was still in California.

Mr. Hrones said he used the Chichester name because “he was aspiring to be an actor out there. He was trying to get into the acting business and he thought it was a more appropriate name.”

“There is nothing wrong with using aliases as long as you don’t use it to defraud,” said the attorney, adding that Mr. Rockefeller also remembers using the alias Christopher Crowe while he worked on Wall Street.

Mr. Hrones said his client still thinks his real name is Clark Rockefeller and has no memory of being Christian Gerhartsreiter. His client has also claimed to have few memories before 1993, the last year authorities have found records for a “Clark Rockefeller.”

The district attorney’s office and FBI in Boston said Monday that they were not ready to declare that Mr. Rockefeller and Mr. Gerhartsreiter were the same person.

At the time of his Aug. 2 arrest in Baltimore, the suspect had been living under the Rockefeller name. Police have said he snatched his daughter from a Boston street on July 27 in an elaborately planned kidnapping in which he hired two people to drive them to New York.

In the San Marino case, skeletal remains were unearthed at the Sohus property in 1994 when new owners were putting in a swimming pool. Investigators at the time were unable to identify the bones but thought they belonged to Mr. Sohus. Investigators have requested a new round of forensic tests.

Two women who were friends with the man they knew as Mr. Chichester in the mid-1980s told the Los Angeles Times that they noticed much of the backyard at the Sohus home had been dug up around the time the Sohuses disappeared. He told them that there had been plumbing problems.

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