Man Of Mystery: New Clues On Rockefeller

Clark Rockefeller is seen during his arraignment at a Boston municipal court, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2008 in Boston. Rockefeller was extradited from Baltimore to Boston to face kidnapping charges. (AP Photo/Essdras Suarez, Pool)
AP Photo/Essdras Suarez
The man in the glasses is not the heir to an oil fortune, that much is known. But who exactly is he? Clark Rockefeller says he's not even sure himself.

After years of trading on the famous name, the man dubbed "Crockefeller" and "Rockephony" by the tabloids has had his story take another strange turn as authorities explore whether he may be a long-missing man linked to a California killing that's been unsolved for more than 20 years.

Rockefeller's attorney says his client can't remember anything in his life prior to his 1995 marriage, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace, but prosecutors in the kidnapping case aren't buying it. They're calling Rockefeller more of a schemer than someone having trouble with memory.

The bespectacled 48-year-old has been jailed since being accused of abducting his daughter from Boston's high-society Back Bay neighborhood.

Two homicide detectives from Los Angeles were in Boston trying to determine whether he's connected to a bag of human bones and a married couple - Jonathan and Linda Sohus - who disappeared without a trace in 1985 from this wealthy Los Angeles suburb.

So far, Rockefeller's not talking to the L.A. detectives on the advice of his lawyer.

After police snatched up Rockefeller in Baltimore, his fingerprints matched prints linked to the Sohus case, Wallace reports. Back then, a man who went by the name Christopher Chichester was a tenant of the Sohus'. Authorities in Los Angeles believe Rockefeller and Chichester may be one and the same.

"There are many things that are similarities," said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sherriff's office. "There are photographic similarities, and yes the detectives are fully cognizant of this."

The prints aren't the only link, Wallace reports. According to a 1994 sheriff's department press release, Chichester was described as a con man who "surfaces in affluent neighborhoods and mingles in social circles by making friends with wealthy, influential people," a similar portrait of the country club lifestyle of Rockefeller.

Meanwhile, federal investigators looking into his mysterious past are trying to determine if he was once a German exchange student to Connecticut.

The Boston Herald reports that authorities have contacted two families in Berlin, Conn. who housed an exchange student named Christian Gerhart Reiter almost three decades ago. They are trying to determine if he and the man calling himself Clark Rockefeller are the same person.

Edward Savio of Berlin tells the newspaper that Reiter lived with his family and eventually moved to California.

The Savios said they were later contacted by the FBI, who were investigating the attempted sale a pickup truck in Connecticut belonging to Sohus.

Police say Rockefeller's fingerprints also match those on an old license application submitted by Chichester.

The development was the latest in a case that has frustrated investigators since Jonathan Sohus' mother filed a missing persons report 23 years ago.

Police explored various possibilities, including that Chichester had been in love with Linda Sohus and murdered her husband in a fit of jealousy.

Sohus' mother reported receiving postcards from her son in Paris, and died in 1988, thinking her son and daughter-in-law had moved to Europe and forgotten about her.

Then in 1994, the new owners of the Sohus property were digging a swimming pool when a backhoe uncovered human remains in three plastic bags. Investigators also found horse and chicken bones.

The badly damaged remains were believed to be those of Jonathan Sohus but were never positively identified, said Lili Hadsell, a former San Marino police sergeant who took the initial missing persons report.

Jonathan Sohus was adopted, so there was no obvious way of comparing the bones' DNA to that of family members, half-brother Chris Sohus said.

No sign of Linda Sohus was ever found, but investigators have searched for Chichester for years.

"It was really thrilling to see that maybe we've got him and maybe we're going to come to some kind of resolution for John and Linda," Hadsell said.

Authorities came close to Chichester in the late 1980s when he was pulled over in Greenwich, Conn., driving Sohus' truck. But by the time the Department of Motor Vehicles had confirmed it was Sohus' truck, Chichester and the vehicle had vanished.

"We were very diligent in trying to track down as many leads as we could, but they were adults, and there were no signs of foul play," Hadsell said of the initial investigation. "Adults can go ahead and disappear."

When the Los Angeles detectives came to the Boston jail where Rockefeller is being held without bail, Rockefeller refused to meet with them.

"He's not accepting any communications. He's not granting any interviews," said Peter Van Delft, a spokesman for the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department.

Rockefeller's attorney, Stephen Hrones, said he advised his client not to speak to the Los Angeles investigators. He said Rockefeller "denies absolutely" any connection between him and the California case.

Chris Sohus remembered his brother as a computer whiz and talented programmer who at one point worked for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

At first, the family thought John and his young wife had also started a new life in Europe and lost contact with relatives back home. Only when the bones were found did they fear the worst.

That's when it became reality, Chris Sohus said: "The likelihood is he's dead. We are hopeful this will result in some closure, getting some answers."

The possible link to Boston, where Rockefeller allegedly orchestrated a complex kidnapping scheme to take his daughter during a supervised custody visit, was the talk of San Marino, a placid town of gated cul-de-sacs, well-manicured lawns and tree-lined boulevards.

Neighbors on Wednesday remembered Chichester as a smooth talker who was well-dressed and seemed well-educated. He did all the right things to ingratiate himself with his upscale neighbors, including volunteering at the local library, said Ray Cornwall, a neighbor who has lived in the community since the 1970s.

"He's a prototype con man. He's really good at it," said Cornwall, whose daughter dated Chichester briefly in the mid-1980s. "It's going to be hard to prove anything, because he's not left any permanent trail. It's all smoke and mirrors."