Nearly three decades of whispering and wondering in San Marino spilled into the open this week when prosecutors aired their evidence that Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter killed John Sohus at a San Marino home in 1985.
Witness after witness helped paint a curious, creepy picture of Gerhartsreiter. It's a picture not only of a man who was a fraud who took on different aliases and told fantastic tales of connections to the rich and famous, but of a man with a dark side who offered for sale a blood-stained rug and asked neighbors how best to illegally dump barrels of chemicals.
Even with holes in the story that originated with Gerhartsreiter's deceits and were made larger by faded memories, the deaths of some witnesses and the passage of time, the evidence was enough for Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jared Moses to order Gerhartsreiter to stand trial.
The biggest hole in the story – one that played a prominent role in the hearing and promises to do so again at trial — is among the most tragic aspects of it: the unknown fate of Linda Sohus. While John Sohus' grisly demise has been known for years, his wife disappeared without a trace in 1985.
One curious aspect of the case is that Gerhartsreiter faces no charge related to Linda Sohus. The evidence, other than the hint offered by Gerhartsreiter's apparent query about dumping barrels, isn't there.
The purpose of the justice system isn't to solve mysteries. It is to determine guilt or innocence, punish the guilty and maintain public safety. We are confident that the system is working in this fascinating and bizarre case. Yet we hope that somehow these proceedings will answer the question that friends, relatives and San Marino residents have asked themselves for years: What became of Linda Sohus?