The preliminary hearing of defendant Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who once posed as “Clark Rockefeller” on the East coast, began Wednesday. The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for Gerhartsreiter to stand trial in the murder of John Sohus.
In 1985, Sohus and his wife Linda had disappeared from their southern Californian home. At the time, Gerhartsreiter, who then was going by the name “Christopher Chichester”, was renting the couple’s guesthouse. Almost ten years later, the remains of John Sohus were found in the couple’s backyard while a worker was constructing a pool.
During the preliminary hearing, a medical examiner stated that Sohus’ skull revealed evidence that he had been bludgeoned, possibly by a baseball bat. A criminalist with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, Lynne Herold, testified yesterday that she remembered her investigations of the Sohus’ former property vividly. Using luminol, she found four blood stains in the guesthouse where Gerhartsreiter lived. Three of the stains appeared to suggest either a body was dragged through them or that they had been wiped clean, Herold testified.
Other witnesses at the preliminary hearing this week included Superior Court Judge William Stewart who knew “Chicester” (Gerhartsreiter) from church and Linda’s former boss Lydia Marano. Judge Stewart testified that he had lent the defendant a chain saw so that he could deal with a pesky tree branch. According to Stewart, Gerhartsreiter kept the chain saw for several months, returning it before leaving town in 1985. The defendant reportedly left town after the Sohus couple disappeared.
Marano testified that Linda enjoyed working at her bookstore which sold horror and fantasy novels. The defense attorney Brad Bailey insinuated that Linda was into the “macabre”; he also suggested that Linda could have murdered her own husband since she was taller and heavier than he.
The defendant is only being charged with the murder of John, as Linda Sohus’ remains have never been found. While forensic scientist Herold stated that none of the blood stains were tied to Gerhartsreiter, she stated that John’s remains had defensive wounds.
Criminalists or forensic scientists play a vital role in criminal investigations. They conduct crime scene investigations, examine human remains and analyze DNA and other key evidence including fingerprints, bloodstain patterns and impressions. If this type of career fascinates you, you can pursue several educational paths. These include a forensic science degree, a criminalistics degree and a crime scene investigation degree.