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Christian Gerhartsreiter Update: Rockefeller impostor court proceeding ends 28 year murder mystery, but not gold bullion mystery

Christian Gerhartsreiter listens to final arguments by prosecutor Habib Balian during his trial at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pool,Walter Mancini
(CBS) - The con artist who posed as Clark Rockefeller made what is likely his final Los Angeles court appearance last week for a restitution proceeding, months after he was sentenced to 27 years to life in prison for a nearly three decades old San Marino, Calif., murder.

The proceeding marked the end of a murder mystery fit for a film noir Hollywood screen play.

The man who called himself Rockefeller, German immigrant Christian Gerhartsreiter, assumed a trail of false identities after killing his landlord's son John Sohus in 1985. Gerhartsreiter had lived in the tiny suburb of San Marino in a backyard guest house, close to where the victim's bones were buried. 

He was convicted of the murder in April.

"Is that really the last hearing," mused prosecutor Habib Balian, as he stood in the hallway of the specially secured 9th floor of the downtown criminal courts building.

"Is it really over?" asked Sheriff's Sgt. Tim Miley, who was dispatched to the east coast to launch a murder investigation the day of "Clark Rockefeller's" arrest Aug. 3, 2008 arrest on charges that the con man kidnapped his daughter. 

The order came before authorities even knew the con man's actual identity. Gerhartsreiter was later charged with Sohus' murder.

"Thanks," said Ellen Sohus, sister of the murder victim, giving Balian and Miley each a hug. Last week's restitution agreement gave closure to Ellen Sohus and her brother Chris, who were left wondering after their half-brother, John, and his wife Linda abruptly vanished.

The siblings believe the notorious con artist also killed John's wife Linda, for which he was not charged. Linda Sohus has never been found.

Before the proceeding began, Gerhartsreiter agreed to pay restitution for his crime: $1,684.69 to the state's victims compensation board, $2,573.87 to Chris Sohus, and $15,075 to Ellen Sohus.

"It's only fair that he be responsible for our out of pocket expenses," said Chris Sohus. The siblings had asked to be repaid for their expenses to attend the trial, mental health services, and a memorial service held for their brother this summer.

Ultimately, the court proceeding was in many ways a formality. The deal did not address the question of the con man's assets and a mysterious receipt for over $700,000 worth of gold bullion.

Sgt. Miley suspects the one-time, high-flying bon vivant, who ran a Wall Street trading desk masquerading as Christopher Crowe Mountbatten and who fooled New York and Boston high society posing as a wealthy scion of the Rockefeller dynasty, might still have assets ferreted away.

Convicted in 2009 for kidnapping his own daughter during a supervised custodial visit, the man then known as Clark Rockefeller was captured after a nationwide manhunt found him slipping into a new identity as high seas ship Captain Chip Smith traveling with his daughter "Muffy."

He had transferred his assets into difficult-to-trace gold bullion -- 770 one-ounce gold American eagle coins. During his kidnapping trial these receipts surfaced as evidence indicating he possessed $742,000 worth the gold coins.

After first being convicted of kidnapping in Massachusetts in 2009, the Los Angeles County District Attorney had him extradited to California in 2011 to face murder charges.

Although never raised in court, at issue is whether or not the crafty "confabulater," as he likes to call himself, managed to hold on to any of those gold coins.

Sgt. Miley believes there would have been a left over balance of gold after accounting for the sum total of Gerhartsreiter's assets seized by the FBI and whatever the cost of his legal bills for criminal defense.

However, as with the facts surrounding Linda Sohus' disappearance, the status of the gold may well be another mysterious question for which Gerhartsreiter will never provide a satisfactory answer.

He denies killing Linda Sohus, asserting that she is the real killer of her husband, John. He also insists that he has no gold bullion left.

Before sentencing in August, Gerhartsreiter fired his high-priced Boston attorneys whom he claims to have paid the balance of those assets.

Taking on one last role as self-appointed counsel to represent himself during sentencing, as well as at last week's appearance in court, Gerhartsreiter showed up with a beard and long hair brushing against his shoulders.

During a break, Judge George Lomeli who presided over Gerhartsreiter's trial and sentencing commented on the new look. The convicted murderer explained it was "out of necessity" because he could not get razors at the jail where he had been transferred recently.

His appearance contrasted sharply with the preppy east coast style that remained consistent through his various identity switches over three decades - a clean cut look that the "man in the Rockefeller suit" managed to maintain during trial wearing starched khakis, sockless loafers, an oxford shirt and blue blazer.

For the rest of his life, the con artist who mingled comfortably amongst America's most opulent communities on both coasts will have to satisfy himself with other inmates for company and prison-issued haberdashery.

Greg Fisher is a producer for CBSNews' "48 Hours." Follow him on Twitter at @cbscrimefish.

Complete coverage of the Christian Gerhartsreiter case on Crimesider

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