Welcome to the Official Site of Frank Girardot's true crime book, "Name Dropper: Investigating The Clark Rockefeller Mystery."
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About The BookDepending on who you ask, Clark Rockefeller is either a psychopathic con man and a cold-blooded killer or an erudite art lover and doting father. I've heard all of these descriptions from police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, friends and acquaintances of the man whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter.
A German national who came to the United States on a student visa in the late 1970s, Rockefeller's rise to near aristocracy led him to prominence in some of the nation's most elite communities -- Wall Street, Greenwich, San Marino and Boston's Beacon Hill. He fancied himself an international man of mystery.
Gerhartsreiter's fall put him squarely in the cross-hairs of a decades-old homicide case and landed him in the country's toughest, most populated jail; a place where the wrong glance at the wrong person can lead to a shiv in the rib cage.
I began following Rockefeller's story in 2008, about the time he was arrested for abducting his daughter. As a journalist, I wrote several newspaper articles and was the first to report his connections to a forgotten San Marino couple that vanished in 1985.
Gerhartsreiter, known then as Christopher Chichester, the XIII baronet of Chichester, was the last person to see John and Linda Sohus alive. Nine years later, when John Sohus' bones were dug up in the backyard of a home the three shared, Chichester became a person of interest in a possible homicide.
Upon his arrest as Rockefeller and subsequent unmasking as Gerhartsreiter, I began piecing together the story in a series of articles for my newspaper, The Pasadena Star-News.
This research resulted in my new book, “Name Dropper: Investigating The Clark Rockefeller Mystery.” In 25 years as a journalist, the tale is one of the most fantastic I’ve ever seen unfold. I’m sure you, the reader, will agree.
About The AuthorFrank C. Girardot Jr. has traversed the gritty streets of Los Angeles, California, rubbed elbows with police officers who were of the same ilk as the criminals they apprehended and moved among the cadavers at the Los Angeles County Office of Coroner as if he were the spirit of some poor soul who wound up there.
He knows the scene; the crime scene, that is.
Few modern newspaper reporters or editors have accumulated his vast experience – from covering the O.J. Simpson murder trial to uncovering curious links between one Christopher Chichester and the disappearance of a young San Marino couple in 1985.
It is the latter case that consumes Girardot’s attention now. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, alias Christopher Chichester, alias Clark Rockefeller, stands accused by Los Angeles County prosecutors of killing John Sohus in 1985 and burying his body in the backyard of the San Marino home where Gerhartsreiter was staying.
Girardot’s investigation with Star-News staffer Nathan McIntire in 2008 likely is at least partly responsible for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office’s decision to file charges against Gerhartsreiter. And so it is fitting that Girardot – editor and columnist of the Pasadena Star-News – will be in Alhambra Superior Court next week when Gerhartsreiter’s preliminary hearing begins. If prosecutors can convince a judge that they have enough evidence, Gerhartsreiter will be bound over to stand trial in the death of Sohus, whose wife Linda also has not been seen since he disappeared.
Girardot, 50, was born in Detroit, so perhaps his attraction to crime reporting comes naturally. He certainly learned his trade from some of the best, as he worked at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner early in his career and was among those who put that fabled paper to bed when Hearst folded it on Nov. 2, 1989.
The award-winning journalist since has continued to ply his trade at the Star-News and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, while also contributing to the San Jose Mercury News, the Oklahoma City Journal Record, the New York Times News Service and the Los Angeles Daily News.
Girardot’s 1993 article on unsolved mysteries of the San Gabriel Valley prompted author James Ellroy to investigate the 1958 strangulation murder of his mother, Geneva Hilliker Ellroy, as Ellroy described in his book, “My Dark Places.” Girardot’s article also has been the subject of an “E! True Hollywood Story” and an episode of CourtTV’s “Murder by the Book.”
But Girardot will take his work and expertise to a new level now. Besides covering Gerhartsreiter’s preliminary hearing, he will put the finishing touches on his first piece of nonfiction: “Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery.” The book, to be published by Star Creek Entertainment, will examine the life of Gerhartsreiter, who conned society’s elite from San Marino to Beacon Hill for more than 20 years. But is this frail, bespectacled German just a con man or is he a conniving, conscienceless killer?
“Name Dropper” will provide more than a few clues.
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