Phoney Rockefeller's ex tells of kidnap anguish

3rd June 2009, Comments 0 comments

The German man on trial entered the US three decades ago and has lived under a series of assumed identities since, the latest being Clark Rockefeller, a supposedly brilliant member of the wealthy American clan.

Boston -- The ex-wife of a man who for years posed as a member of the illustrious Rockefeller family on Monday described her anguish at his abduction of their daughter last year.

"I was traumatized, hysterical," Sandra Boss, 42, told the court in Boston trying her husband on abduction charges.

She said that she "danced around" when her daughter, then seven, was found six days later by the FBI, along with her fugitive ex-husband.

"I was extremely happy," she said.

On trial is a man US authorities have identified as 48-year-old Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, from Bergen, Germany.

He is described as a con man who entered the United States three decades ago and has lived under a series of assumed identities since, the latest being Clark Rockefeller, a supposedly brilliant member of the wealthy US clan.

His fiction collapsed last July, seven months after a bitter divorce, when he allegedly snatched his daughter Reigh, nicknamed Snooks, during a supervised visit in Boston.

Gerhartsreiter is charged with parental kidnapping, punishable by up to five years in a Massachusetts prison, as well as assault charges related to his alleged escape from the social working supervising the visit.

He is also charged with giving police a false name.

His defence attorneys, Jeffrey Denner and Timothy Bradl, say their client is clinically insane and therefore not responsible.

Boss, a graduate of Harvard Business School and now working in London, gave insight into the bizarre fantasy world her husband concocted -- and she bought into.

She described love at first sight when they met in New York in 1993.

"I found him very attractive. He was very well dressed, very fit. My overall impression was he was very intelligent, very polite, and he could talk about anything. He was really interesting. And also really very charming," she recalled.

He told her that he negotiated debts for small countries, she said, admitting that she had never thought to question where he had an office, or whether he had one.

She also admitted to believing his astonishing story that he was a Rockefeller raised in luxury in New York, orphaned at 18, and granted entry to the elite Yale university at just 14.

His family fortune, he told her vaguely, was tied up in disputes.

After they married in 1995, a darker side emerged almost immediately, she said: "It became a very stressful relationship. He would yell at me and use harsh words."

When she questioned why he was not contributing money to their expenses, he told her he was in non-profit work and "was expecting that he might get an appointment of some kind as a result of the work that he was doing. The idea was that it would be government related."

When they divorced in December 2007, she paid for both their legal fees and gave him 800,000 dollars, two cars and her engagement ring, then left for London with their daughter Snooks, Boss said.

Marcia Scott Harrison/AFP/Expatica

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