YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Crews finish dig at home

Sheriff's officials call the San Marino search 'very productive' but won't say if anything was recovered.

August 31, 2008|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators Saturday concluded a search of the backyard of a San Marino home owned by a young couple who mysteriously disappeared 23 years ago, calling the effort "very productive" but refusing to specify whether anything was recovered.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said the search, which involved dozens of investigators armed with shovels, cadaver-sniffing dogs, ground-penetrating radar and other high-tech tools, ended about 11:30 a.m.

Jonathan and Linda Sohus were living at the home when they disappeared in 1985.

Whitmore declined to elaborate on the outcome of the search. A Los Angeles County deputy district attorney was present during at least part of the effort, Whitmore said.

"It was productive. That's all we will say," he said. "I won't say what was or was not found."

On Friday, Whitmore said the first round of radar checks came up with some "anomalies" that prompted officials to dig up parts of the property and remove some concrete near the pool. He called the current owners of the home "extraordinarily patient."

The search of the property on Lorain Road, a street dotted with mansions, came 14 years after human bones were discovered there during the construction of a swimming pool.

At that time, coroner's investigators were able to identify the remains only as those of a slightly built male adult.

Law enforcement officials, however, suspect that the bones are those of Jonathan Sohus, who matched the description coroner's officials gave for the skeletal remains. In addition to the bones, investigators discovered a bloodstain in the property's guest house.

But the trail soon grew cold.

The case generated new interest this month after sheriff's detectives named a Boston man, Clark Rockefeller, as a person of interest in the disappearance and suspected deaths of the Sohuses.

Rockefeller, who apparently used numerous aliases over the years, is being investigated by law enforcement agencies on two coasts, the FBI and German authorities. He came to the attention of Los Angeles authorities when he was arrested earlier this month in Boston on charges of kidnapping his young daughter.

His attorney, Stephen Hrones, has acknowledged that Rockefeller is the same man who used the name Christopher Chichester when he lived in the Sohuses' guest house. But Hrones said his client had nothing to do with their disappearance.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials first sought to question the man they knew as Chichester in 1988 when he sold a truck that had belonged to the Sohuses.

Rockefeller, who remains in custody in Boston, has never spoken to sheriff's detectives here about the couple's disappearance and refused their recent requests for an interview.


Los Angeles Times Articles