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New fingerprint evidence revealed

August 16, 2008|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

FBI officials in Boston announced Friday that a fingerprint from a "person of interest" in the disappearance of a San Marino couple in 1985 matches that of Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a native of Germany who legally came to the United States as a student in 1970s.

At a news conference, officials said they matched fingerprints from Clark Rockefeller to prints left behind on an immigrant card for Gerhartsreiter, who was born in 1961 in West Germany, said Warren Bamford, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.

FBI officials said the German had used the aliases Christopher Crowe, Charles Smith, Chip Smith and Christopher Chichester.

Authorities allege that Chichester is the alias he used while living in the San Marino guesthouse of Jonathan and Linda Sohus, who are missing and believed killed.

The immigration record did not contain a fingerprint card or ink prints, but forensic criminalists this week were able to get three latent prints from the German's U.S. immigration records that matched Rockefeller's prints, officials said.

The identity confirmation by the FBI comes a week after the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced that interviews they conducted had confirmed that Chichester, Rockefeller and Gerhartsreiter were in fact the same man.

"When Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter's true name first surfaced, the initial reports and photo identifications simply were not sufficient for our criminal case. As prosecutors, we need more than a photo and a fading memory when we walk into court," said Suffolk County Dist. Atty. Daniel F. Conley.

An attorney for Clark Rockefeller has repeatedly said his client had nothing to do with the couple's disappearance.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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