Saturday, 2:15 PM
'Clark Rockefeller' to claim temporary insanity
(John Tlumack/Globe Staff/file)
By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff
The man who has called himself Clark Rockefeller -- as well as Chip Smith, Christopher Crowe, Christopher Chichester, and a string of other aliases during 30 years of chameleon-like identity changes -- plans to claim he was insane when he allegedly kidnapped his 7-year-old daughter last summer on a Back Bay street.
Rockefeller's lawyer, Jeffrey A. Denner, filed a motion today in Suffolk Superior Court saying his client was not responsible for the alleged abduction because he was suffering from a "mental disease or defect'' that made it impossible to understand his actions or to control them.
Denner, who began laying the groundwork for an insanity defense last month when he told reporters that his client was mentally ill when he abducted Reigh Storrow Mills Boss, declined to identify the disorder in the filing and a brief interview. But he said a psychiatrist he had hired diagnosed an illness. The lawyer also said he might disclose more details Tuesday at a pretrial court hearing.
Denner also indicated today that he planned to file several other motions, including a request to move the trial from Suffolk County because, he said, the wall-to-wall news coverage of the case would make it impossible for his client to get a fair trial.
Authorities say his 47-year-old client is really a Bavarian-born German citizen named Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter. They alleged that he came to the United States as a West German foreign exchange student in 1979 and became a con man extraordinaire, claiming an aristocratic lineage to ingratiate himself with the well-to-do from Los Angeles to Manhattan to Beacon Hill.
In recent years, he allegedly led people, including his former wife, Sandra Boss, an executive at the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., to believe that he was somehow related to the storied Rockefeller dynasty.
On July 27, he allegedly snatched his daughter from a Back Bay street during a supervised visit, triggering a mammoth search. He was arrested six days later in Baltimore, where he was living as Charles "Chip'' Smith. His daughter was reunited with her mother, and they are both presumed to be living in London.
Los Angeles authorities have also labeled Gerhartsreiter a "person of interest'' in the 1985 disappearance and presumed killings of a California couple, John and Linda Sohus. Gerhartsreiter was living in a guest house on their property in San Marino, an affluent Los Angeles suburb, when they vanished.