Besides the bombings of Georgia (the country, not the state), the Olympics in Beijing (filled with its own tales of murder, deception, and intrigue), the deaths of Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes (whom will be missed by us all), another news story floats in the undercurrents and keeps getting more bizarre as the days goes on.
If you haven’t been keeping up, this story started as a simple parenting snatch and child grab and has spun into a tale of murder, money, and the multiple identities of a man born in Germany who has no knowledge of his past.
I can already hear the keyboards of hack screenwriters banging away at a movie of the week.
On July 27th, “Snooks”, the love child of Clark Rockefeller and Sandra Lynne Boss, was taken during a custodial visit in Boston that had been supervised by a social worker. Clark Rockefeller convinced his regular driver that he was on the way to pick up his daughter from an angry boyfriend and that they might have to dash away with the child. Rockefeller knew that the girl’s mother was away in London, and probably planned this grab in advanced.
Boston police began searching for Clark and the girl, and on July 31, they enlisted the help of the Fox television show, America’s Most Wanted. On August 1st, the show ran an episode that included Rockefeller and the hot line phones blew up with tips. The most telling call was from the owner of a marina in Maryland where Rockefeller kept a catamaran for almost ten years.
On August 2nd, the clever FBI lured Rockefeller out to the marina by telling him that his boat was sinking. Rockefeller was then arrested. From this apprehension, we learn that he had changed his name to Charles Smith and bought a new home valued at $450,000.
Now, if this was the end of the story, we would still have a pretty good Lifetime Special. But in the end, this story might be better than Mark Harmon’s made for television’s portrayal of Ted Bundy.
Let’s have an interlude of quotes from his lawyer Stephen Hrones.
“No, my clients not violent.”
“He has no memory of being in Germany.”
“There’s nothing wrong with having aliases.”
“As a father, he has every right to take his child.”
I smell a novel in the works for Mr. Hrones.
So back to our story.
After his arrest, on August 5th, it was learned that Rockefeller was wanted for questioning in Los Angeles for the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus of San Marino, California where Christopher Chichester rented a room from the young couple in 1983. By 1985, Chichester was gone with their truck, the couple missing, and the police looking for this man that friends and neighbors described as “creepy.” In 1994, while trying to dig for a pool, the body of John Sohus was found in the backyard.
“I have no recollection of my past.”
I wouldn’t either, Mr. Chichester or Mr. Rockefeller, or…
Christopher Crowe, Michael Brown, James Frederick, Charles “Chip” Smith, Clark Rock and J.P. Clark Rockefeller. Sometimes, he claimed to be a descendant from various European lineages like the Battenberg family of Germany and the Mountbattten family of England. Lately, he was a widower from the famous Rockefeller lineage. But on August 8th, he was positively identified as Christian Karl Gertshartsreiter, born in 1961 in a small village in upper Bavaria.
“I have no recollection of my past.’
According to his estranged brother, Alexander Gerthartsreiiter, Christian left home as a teenager and cut all ties with his family twenty years earlier. In 1978, Christian left Germany and moved to Connecticut as a student. As Christian Gehrhart Reiter, in 1980, he stayed with retired librarian Gwen Savio. After a few months of bizarre behavior, Christian declared that his roommates were “peasants” and moved on.
His next stop brought him to Wisconsin, where a month after leaving Connecticut, he married a United citizen named Amy Jersild. A smart move for Christian, because this gave him a green card and granted him legal residency as a United States citizen. They met, fell in love, got married, he got his card, and then he was gone.
About two years pass, and Christopher Chichester shows up in San Marino with a British accent where he rents a room from John and Linda Solus. Quickly, Chichester ingratiates himself into the local community by joining the Episcopal Church, the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and volunteering at the local library. Once there, Chichester drives around town in a convertible and becomes a man of intrigue as locals blow off his pretention and attitude because he claims to be a “descendant of royalty”.
But by 1985, the Sohuses come up missing, so does Chichester and their pickup truck. A few years later, a man named Christopher Crowe, identified as Chichester by fingerprint records, tries selling John Sohus’s pickup truck to the son of a minister in Connecticut. As the Sohus’s are still just missing, believed to have gone to Europe, having told authorities that Didi Sohus sold him the truck, Chichester is not held for their disappearance. Then, in 1994, John Sohus’s body is dug in the backyard of the San Marino home.
Back to 1985, Christopher Chichester Crowe begins his new campaign at the exclusive Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Using contacts from the club, he is hired as a sales representative at the local brokerage firm, S.N. Phelps. While claiming to be a graduate from the University of California and a producer for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, Crowe poses as the long- lost brother of serial killer David Berkowitz trying to obtain the Son of Sam’s social security number and Wall Street broker’s license. Within a year, Crowe is fired from S.N. Phelps when the company learned that he had been using Berkowitz’s social security number to buy stocks.
“My client has no recollection of using Berkowitz’s identification.”
“I have no recollection of my past.”
Time passes and Crowe shows up in New York. Hired by Nikko Securities International Manhattan office as vice president of the corporate bond department, Crowe spun tales of being the former head of the faux Battenbeg-Crowe-von-Wettin Family Foundation, owning European castles, and driving Italian sports cars while he drove around in the 1965 Chevy pickup owned by John Sohus.
Fired in 1988, after S.N. Phelps calls Nikko to let them know about using Berkowitz’s SSN, Crowe then gets hired at Kidder, Peabody and Company in 1989, but quits when he learns that his parents were “kidnapped overseas”. The next day, Connecticut state troopers show up at the office to ask about the Sohus truck, but Christopher Crowe has flown off again.
Four years go by, four years in the life of a constant hustler (I have no doubt that we will learn of another tale from this time), and Clark Rockefeller arrives in the Manhattan social circle. He meets Sandra Boss, a London socialite, a marketing executive, and bread winner with a yearly salary over a million dollars. In 1995, the two receive a marriage certificate stating their marriage, but never apply for a license. In 2001, they give birth to Reigh “Snooks” Boss.
For the last few years, Rockefeller has lived in a 2.4 million dollar home in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston, claimed to be a millionaire widow adjusting to the death of his ex-wife and owning yachts, gold bullion, and paintings by Mondrian and Rothko. His secret life had remained a mystery until abducting his daughter and fleeing to Maryland.
While Clark Rockefeller has become an enigma, a chameleon of smoke and mirrors, the truth behind his lies will be fundamental for figuring out everything this man has done in his lifetime. While he is a successful con, I believe there is a sociopath hiding underneath this mysterious man who has built an impressive list of crimes. We shouldn’t doubt anything he says and we need to look deeper into his tangled web of identities. Questions need to be asked and answered.
Where did he get his money?
How did he survive during the missing years?
Who else has he killed, impersonated, and swindled since first arriving in America?
But, the real question to answer is why he abducted his daughter. Here is a calculated man who has switched identities and remained a ghost for twenty years. Why would he risk all that? Why would he not flee the country? Why would he not establish another identity further way then Maryland? What was his next plan?
Clark Rockefeller is not just forgetting who he was, but he is also deftly forgetting what he was going to do next.
And that is the key to solving the riddle of our new International Man of Mystery.