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A years-long search in vain

Friends and family tried but couldn't find missing San Marino couple

August 21, 2008|Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

Robert Sohus had moved to Phoenix with daughter Ellen after divorcing his wife, but John still called him weekly. After the couple disappeared, the weekly calls stopped, Ellen Sohus said.

Robert Sohus hired a private investigator to track down Chichester, hoping that he could tell what happened to the couple, Ellen Sohus said in an interview. But the private eye could not find him.

The case went cold until 1994, when the new owners of the Sohus home on Lorain Road began digging a pool in the backyard and discovered human remains buried in three plastic bags.

Investigators told Jacoby the bones belonged to a "small-framed man," which fit the description of John Sohus.

Investigators have not been able to make a forensic match to Sohus, but the bones were enough to persuade Jacoby that the couple was no longer missing. She stopped looking for her sister in crowds.

"I just determined in my mind at that time that they were both dead," Jacoby said, although she never learned how they died and her sister's body was never found.

Earlier this month, Boston police and FBI agents arrested a man who fit Chichester's description, Clark Rockefeller.

Investigators have since said the two names are aliases used by the same man, whom they identified through fingerprints as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a German national who came to Connecticut as a student in the 1970s.

Rockefeller's attorney has said his client lived in San Marino but that he knows nothing about the couple's disappearance.

Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide investigators said they were trying to see if they could link forensic evidence from the remains as well as from blood found in the San Marino guesthouse to either Jonathan Sohus or Rockefeller.

"My hope is that investigators will be able to link the pieces together and we will finally have justice for my brother's murder," Ellen Sohus said. "With the new developments, there's some hope to see a resolution."

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

richard.winton@latimes.com

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