By Jonathan Saltzman and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff
The elaborate ruse unfolded over three days, and the man with the last name Rockefeller played the aristocrat perfectly, ordering steak tartare to-go and mimicking the mannerisms of Thurston Howell III, the millionaire on the sitcom "Gilligan's Island." The details, which included a round-trip, $600 drive to a phony board meeting in New York City , were so convincing that livery driver Darryl Hopkins said he had no idea he had become the unwitting getaway driver in a parental kidnapping plot.
Hopkins testified today that the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller casually mentioned his problem with a clingy relative as they drove back from New York and offered $3,000 for help. The driver suggested the quiet block on Marlborough Street in the Back Bay where they could lose the man, who was really a court-mandated social worker monitoring the visit between Rockefeller and his 7-year-old daughter. The planning included a dry run the night before, where Clark Rockefeller allegedly practiced jumping into the back of his black sport utility vehicle.
"I remember saying you are a Rockefeller," Hopkins said today. "If you are going to jump in the car and we're going to take off, you are not going to want people to see you, right?"
When the deed was done that Sunday last July, Rockefeller and his daughter left the social worker standing in the middle of Marlborough Street pointing as Hopkins sped away. The driver testified that he would not learn the truth for several hours, until he heard an Amber Alert broadcast on the radio.
"All I had to hear was 'Clark Rockefeller' and my world collapsed," Hopkins said. "He had kidnapped his daughter and I was his getaway car, thank you very much."
Hopkins acknowledged today that he lied the first time he spoke to Boston police, initially telling an investigator that he had not seen Rockefeller that Sunday. The driver told the jury that he also removed the Red Sox sticker from the back of his black Chevy suburban, a detail that had been included in the description of the vehicle in the Amber Alert.
Rockefeller, 48, is accused of abducting his daughter during a supervised visit on July 27 following a bitter divorce. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors say that the defendant is a Bavarian-born con man named Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter who has used a slew of aliases and upper crust identities over the past 30 years to ingratiate himself into tony circles in the United States.
After Hopkins, the most anticipated witness of the trial is expected to take the stand today. The defendant's former wife, Sandra L. Boss, has made few public statements since her 7-year-old daughter, Reigh Storrow Mills Boss, was allegedly kidnapped last summer. While the girl was still missing, Boss made a public plea in a video posted on the Boston Police Department's website, begging Rockefeller to bring back their daughter, who goes by the nickname "Snooks."
On the beat
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