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Rockefeller impostor's former wife testifies

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 9:25 a.m. MDT

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter listens  in court  at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday,  April 2, 2013. Gerhartsreiter has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, 27, who disappeared with his wife, Linda, in 1985.   (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press) Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter listens in court at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Gerhartsreiter has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, 27, who disappeared with his wife, Linda, in 1985. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES — The woman who married a notorious Rockefeller impostor and bore his child is due for cross-examination in court Wednesday, after she told jurors in his murder trial Tuesday her story of a 12-year-marriage to a man whose identity was a lie.

Sandy Boss said she was charmed by the bright, quirky man who called himself Clark Rockefeller and she believed everything he told her about himself.

They met in 1993 when she was studying for her MBA at Harvard and was invited to a cocktail party at his New York apartment. The theme was the game "Clue," and they came in costume.

"I was Miss Scarlett and he was Professor Plum," she recalled. "I liked him. I thought he was intelligent, very funny, quirky, flattering and complimentary. A good person to get to know."

They began dating and by 1994 she had graduated, had a finance job in New York and moved in with him. He told her he was an heir to the Rockefeller fortune but was on the outs with the rest of his relatives and never saw them. He said his parents had been killed in a car crash in 1978.

Rev. Christopher Bishop testifies knowing Christopher Crowe, who is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, and accepting as a gift a white Nissan truck from him at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday,  April 2, 2013.   Other witnesses have said victim John Sohus and his wife Linda bought a white Nissan truck just before they vanished.   (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press) Rev. Christopher Bishop testifies knowing Christopher Crowe, who is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, and accepting as a gift a white Nissan truck from him at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Other witnesses have said victim John Sohus and his wife Linda bought a white Nissan truck just before they vanished. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press)

"I assumed that what he was telling me was true," she said. "I didn't have reason to think he was not the person he said he was."

When he proposed marriage in June 1994, she accepted and they married the next year.

But once they married, she said his charming demeanor dissipated and he became demanding of secrecy in all their affairs. He handled finances but she provided the funds and signed blank checks for him to use. She said he put charges on her credit cards and had none in his own name. He installed multiple phone lines and had their mail delivered to post office boxes. They moved frequently.

He also had an aversion to certain places. He refused to visit California which he said he hated and would never set foot in Connecticut. Unknown to her, he was under investigation in both places in connection with a missing persons case.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, enters the courtroom  at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday,  April 2, 2013. He has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, 27, who disappeared with his wife, Linda, in 1985.   (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press) Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, enters the courtroom at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles Tuesday, April 2, 2013. He has pleaded not guilty to the killing of John Sohus, 27, who disappeared with his wife, Linda, in 1985. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune,Walter Mancini ) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press)

He is charged with the 1985 murder of John Sohus who disappeared from his San Marino, Calif., home with his wife, Linda. The man's bones were unearthed a decade later. Linda Sohus has never been found.

Boss didn't know her husband was a German immigrant named Christian Gerhartsreiter who had once lived in San Marino and was under investigation in the couple's disappearance.

He told her he was doing third world debt negotiations.

Their daughter was born in 2001, she said. But in 2007 Boss became aware that he was not Clark Rockefeller and she left him.

"I hired private investigators who told me they couldn't tell me who I was married to," she said.

Boss, 45, was composed on the witness stand but never mentioned her ex-husband's name, referring to him as "the defendant."

She lives in London with their 12-year-old daughter. A pretrial ruling barred prosecutors from asking her about his kidnapping of their daughter, which sent him to prison in 2009.

FILE - In this March 27, 2013 file photo, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter listens during his trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles. The notorious Rockefeller impostor on trial for murder was linked by a key witness Tuesday to a truck bought by the man he is charged with killing in California more than a quarter-century ago.  (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Walt Mancini, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press) FILE - In this March 27, 2013 file photo, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter listens during his trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles. The notorious Rockefeller impostor on trial for murder was linked by a key witness Tuesday to a truck bought by the man he is charged with killing in California more than a quarter-century ago. (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Walt Mancini, File) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT, Associated Press)

Defense attorneys claim that victim John Sohus was not killed by their client but by his wife, who vanished at the same time he did.

There has been no evidence of a motive for either Gerhartsreiter or Linda Sohus to kill John Sohus.

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