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Boston verdict could force L.A. County prosecutors to file charges against Rockefeller

With the jury out in the kidnapping trial of the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller, speculation grew Wednesday about whether he would be charged in connection with the disappearance of a San Marino couple 25 years ago.

If Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, is found not guilty in the Boston-area custodial kidnapping of his 7-year-old daughter, he could face deportation to Germany unless he is charged in Los Angeles County.

A Boston TV station reported Wednesday that an indictment was pending in Los Angeles. Meantime, jurors on the East Coast asked a judge what prosecutors had to prove in the case, in which the defendant has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity

But L.A. County prosecutors said the investigation into Rockefeller’s role in the 1985 disappearance of Jonathan and Linda Sohus remains ongoing.

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“Nothing has been filed,” said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office. “It is an ongoing investigation.”

If Rockefeller is not jailed in the New England kidnapping case, he would face deportation and could choose not to fight that move, forcing L.A. prosecutors to act before he leaves the country, sources said.

In Los Angeles County, prosecutors rarely use a grand jury to indict suspects, preferring to charge them directly. A grand jury here has interviewed witnesses in the case. But that probe, according to sources, was done to gather information, not to bring a charge.

Rockefeller, through his attorneys, has insisted he had nothing to do with the couple’s disappearance.

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Rockefeller rented a guest house from the Sohuses in the early 1980s, using the name Christopher Chichester.

In 1985, the couple disappeared, and soon after the mysterious renter also left. Police investigated the disappearance but the case did not go far. Nine years later, though, as a new homeowner constructed a swimming pool, workers uncovered what is believed to be Jonathan Sohus’ skeleton from the backyard.

The trail again went cold until last summer, when Rockefeller was accused of kidnapping his daughter during a supervised visit. Authorities eventually determined that Chichester and Rockefeller were the same person.

L.A. County sheriff’s detectives declared him a “person of interest” in the disappearance and suspected killing of the Sohuses.

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richard.winton@latimes.com


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