Saturday, 2:15 PM
(John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Maria Cramer, David Abel, and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
Clark Rockefeller stood handcuffed with his head bowed this afternoon in Boston Municipal Court as a prosecutor described the deepening mystery surrounding the true identity of the Beacon Hill father accused of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter.
As Rockefeller was ordered held without bail, homicide detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said they were on their way to Boston to interview him about an old case out of San Marino, Calif. A spokesman for the sheriff's department confirmed a report in today's Globe that authorities were investigating the accused kidnapper after his fingerprints provided an unusual, but still unconfirmed, link to an unsolved killing in California from many years ago.
"He's a suspect worth interviewing," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the department. "We're on our way to do that. Whether we get any information from him or not, we don't know."
At this afternoon's arraignment, assistant district attorney David Deakin detailed how Rockefeller told people he was a physicist and the head of a research and development company that specialized in space technology. He claimed he attended Yale and Oxford, and told others he was self educated and never went to high school, Deakin said. Rockefeller has recounted being brought up by an aunt and uncle, and in other instances told investigators that he could not remember who raised him.
Describing him as a shrewd schemer, prosecutors acknowledged today that they do not know Rockefeller's true identity. Authorities did say, however, that the slight man with thinning red hair was a "skilled manipulator of the system" who had 300 solid gold coins and another $12,000 in cash in his new carriage house when he was arrested in Baltimore on Saturday.
"There is no bail that the court could set that would ensure his return," Deakin said in court.
Judge Paul K. Leary agreed and ordered Rockefeller held without bail on charges of felony parental kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery. The allegations stem from the alleged abduction July 27 of his daughter, Reigh Storrow Mills Boss.
The 20-minute hearing today brought to a quiet close what became a sensational search for the enigmatic father and his daughter. The case has drawn national media attention, with reporters giving a blow-by-blow account of his extradition this morning on a commercial airliner from Baltimore, where he was arrested Saturday after a massive 10-day manhunt.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said after the arraignment that he was confident he would be identified.
"We are dealing with somebody who demonstrated over time the ability to lie skillfully," Conley said. "It's going to be hard, no question … we have every confidence we'll identify him, who ever he is."
Rockefeller's defense attorney, Stephen Hrones, met with his client for 30 minutes today and described him as calm and collected. When asked about the kidnapping charge, the attorney said that his client had every right to be with his daughter.
"He was very close to her. He loved her dearly, and he raised her," said Hrones, a longtime Boston defense attorney who specializes in civil rights and police misconduct cases.
Questioned about the Globe's story about Rockefeller's connection to an unsolved murder in California, Hornes asked reporters how his client can "get a fair trial when the police department is leaking all this to the press."
Rockefeller returned to Boston this morning on an Air Tran flight, drinking black coffee and water as he sat in the back row with at least four law enforcement officers. He smiled and greeted people at the Baltimore airport with a cheery "hello," but police kept other passengers and reporters at bay. Rockefeller wore the same clothes he had been wearing since his arrest Saturday: wrinkled khaki pants, a baby-blue polo shirt, and tattered loafers without socks.
Four police cars greeted Rockefeller's plane on the tarmac at Logan International Airport when it landed at 9:45 a.m. Three state troopers stood guard in the jetway and more reinforcements, including two special operations officers clad in black and clutching automatic rifles, escorted him to a marked Boston Police cruiser.
Curious travelers peered out the terminal windows, snapping photographs with their cellphones as police cuffed Rockefeller's hands behind his back. He was put in the cruiser and whisked away for booking as cameras flashed.
"I thought it was a celebrity" said Tara Lonergan, 22, a senior at Stonehill College who was waiting for a flight to Baltimore and relieved the fugitive was not on her plane. "As long as I'm not traveling with him …. my dad would have flipped."
Television news helicopters hovered above the Boston police station in Brighton as Rockefeller arrived in a motorcade that included two cruisers and a motorcycle escort. The fugitive sat in the back seat with a scruffy beard and stared straight ahead as motorcycle police pushed photographers away from the car.
The Globe reported today that Rockefeller's fingerprints, taken after his capture Saturday in Baltimore, were linked to an out-of-state license application under a different name, presumably yet another alias, those officials said. That name, in turn, is on a list of people wanted in a homicide case in California, according according to two law enforcement officials.
"A fingerprint connected him to a license application, and an alias on the application connected him to a murder in California," one of the two officials said yesterday. Both officials provided information to the Globe on condition they not be named, because the investigation is ongoing.
Rockefeller has not been helpful as investigators try to determine his true identity, officials said. He has been interviewed for hours by FBI agents and Baltimore police detectives, but has provided no information about his past, including his real identity, an official said. To questions as basic as where he was born and who his parents are, he has repeatedly told authorities that he "doesn't remember," one of the officials said.
Rockefeller has already gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal his past, even refusing to provide proof of his identity in his 2007 divorce case, a decision that cost him custody of the daughter he played an active role in raising.
Yesterday, Rockefeller was escorted into a Baltimore courtroom, his first public appearance since his arrest Saturday afternoon. He agreed to waive extradition and return to Boston.
As FBI agents and police detectives worked furiously to learn more details of Rockefeller's past, a fuller, but not necessarily clearer, portrait continued to emerge from those in New England and Maryland with whom he has crossed paths.
In Baltimore, Rockefeller went by the name Charles "Chip" Smith, which is distinct from the multiple names he allegedly used in Boston, Nantucket, and New Hampshire. He portrayed himself as a man determined to start a new life as the single parent of a young daughter.
In New England, Rockefeller struck some as a charming if quirky man with an intellectual bearing and distinguished pedigree; to others, he seemed a fraud or a schemer.
In divorce proceedings, Sandra Boss, a senior partner in London with McKinsey & Co. who previously managed the firm's Boston office, accused him of lying about being a member of the famed Rockefeller family.
She was reunited with her daughter, known as Snooks, on Saturday after authorities tracked Rockefeller to a Baltimore house and lured him outside under the pretense that his sailboat, docked a few miles away, was taking on water.
Rockefeller, calling himself Chip Smith, completed his purchase of that house for nearly $432,000 in cash in mid-July. That was more than a month after telling the seller that he planned to live there with his daughter and that he liked the yard and proximity to a local private school, seller John Day of Mount Vernon Portfolio Equities told the Globe Sunday.
Yesterday, Julie Gochar, an executive with the real estate firm that represented Smith, said he contacted her firm by e-mail in late 2007 to seek help in finding a two- or three-bedroom house.
Gochar, managing partner of Obsidian Realty, said Smith told her company that he and his daughter were relocating from Chile. The company worked with him for several months, arranged for him to stay in a Baltimore rental to facilitate his house-hunting, and allowed him to use the Internet at their office, said Gochar, who read a statement to reporters and took no questions.
Rockefeller came to Baltimore last month to finalize the purchase of the brick carriage house on Ploy Street and to pay with cashier's checks, Gochar said.
On Friday, Obsidian employees saw a news bulletin about Clark Rockefeller and recognized the man they knew as Smith from the photographs. They immediately called police, Gochar said.
Rockefeller purchased the home not in his own name, but using a Nevada-based limited-liability company known as P10Y Street Parking. The company's articles of organization were filed May 30, using Nevada Corporation Services Ltd. as registered agent.
Nevada Corporation Services bills itself on the Internet as "The Expert's 'Domestic Haven of Choice' for Business Incorporation & Powerful Asset Protection" and employs a quote from industrialist John D. Rockefeller as its tagline: "Control everything, own nothing." An employee who answered the phone yesterday said the company had no comment about P10Y Street Parking or about Clark Rockefeller.
Clark Rockefeller had used similarly vague-sounding entities to purchase multiple properties in Cornish, N.H., said Peter Burling, a New Hampshire state senator who lived half a mile from Rockefeller in the town. Burling said some were captivated by the Yale hat-wearing, bow tie-clad, Segway-riding Rockefeller, who claimed to own a scientific business in Canada and told stories in town about hosting Helmut Kohl and Britney Spears. Others, he added, were wary.
In trying to acquire real estate, Rockefeller sought to discourage other potential bidders. "He would just say to everybody: 'My name is Clark Rockefeller. I can bid as much as I need to,' " recalled Burling.
But Joan Littlefield, a former neighbor and friend, recalled Rockefeller and Boss fondly, calling him a man of curiosity and aesthetic sensitivity who appeared to be a conscientious husband and father.
"Everywhere Clark went, if the Rockefeller name came up, it was more of a burden than a blessing," said Littlefield.
On Nantucket, Rockefeller rented an off-season cottage for several winters earlier this decade and told his landlord that he used aliases because the Rockefeller name put him at a disadvantage in real estate, recalled Dan Shapiro, of Jamestown, R.I., who leased his former island cottage to Boss and Rockefeller.
Shapiro said he never met the couple but regularly spoke with Rockefeller, who told him he was an MIT graduate and owned a company in upstate New York that was developing a magnetic-propulsion system for space travel.
He seemed like "some sort of genius," Shapiro said. "He was always extremely pleasant, extremely polite, very polished." One year, Shapiro said, Rockefeller even raised his own rent.
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