You would think Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter is the only crazy German to infiltrate U.S. high society only to later be suspected of murder, but he has some competition.
The case against Gerhartsreiter, or “Clark Rockefeller,” as he was known to the social elite of New England, culminated Wednesday when the 52-year-old was convicted of killing his California neighbor some 28 years ago.
Before Wednesday’s guilty verdict, Gerhartsreiter, who also went by the aliases Christopher Chichester and Chris C. Crowe, among others, shared the title of German native-turned impostor-turned-murder defendant with Albrecht Muth, who fabricated connections with the Iraqi military and world leaders to insert himself into elite social circles in Washington, D.C.
Muth, 48, charmed his way into the life of D.C. socialite Viola Drath, a woman 44 years his senior whom he would go on to marry. Dinner parties with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scolia and other influential people, followed.
Drath was 9 when prosecutors say Muth strangled her to death inside their tony Georgetown townhouse in 2011.
Muth denies being inside the home at the time of the murder, and said “the Iranians” were responsible for his wife’s murder in this interview with Martha Raddatz of ABC News. The German impostor claimed he discovered his wife’s dead body after a long night out on the town.
While both Gerhartsreiter and Muth embellished their personal stories to climb the ranks of high society, “Clark Rockefeller” arguably went to greater lengths to fuel the deception. Muth did not use any aliases, although at one point he gave himself the title of “Staff Brigadier General” of the Iraqi Army and wore the army’s uniform and a red beret around D.C.
“I saw him in uniform at the Safeway talking about Sadr,” Roland Flamini, a former Time correspondent, said of Muth in a New York Times Magazine profile from 2012, referring to the Iraqi Islamist political leader.
Muth claimed to have helped train Sadr’s Mahdi Army and boasted of strong ties to the man he referred to as “Mookie.”
Gerhartsreiter claimed to have been a scion of the powerful Rockefeller family -- connections that helped him ease his way into New England’s social elite and marry a wealthy woman.
The ruse abruptly fell apart in 2008, after he kidnapped his then-7-year-old daughter from Boston and took her to Baltimore. After being arrested, authorities determined “Clark Rockefeller” was actually Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter
Gerhartsreiter was a person of interest in the murder of John Sohus, the step-son of his landlady when he was living in San Marino, Calif., 30 years ago.
Sohus disappeared in 1985, but his body was found nine years later when the home’s new owners had excavators dig to install a swimming pool on the property.
Twenty-eight years after Sohus’ murder, Gerhartsreiter was convicted in the murder.
Meanwhile, Muth’s fate has yet to play out; he’s awaiting trial and has stopped eating.
In the ABC News interview, Muth acknowledged that he was a “convenient suspect” in his wife’s murder and admitted to beating her in the past, but denied being responsible for killing her.
When police questioned him in her death, Muth snapped when asked about the age difference between him and Drath, calling their union “a marriage of convenience.”
Muth has maintained that his claims of helping the Iraqi Army are real, despite there being no evidence of them being true, according to the New York Times Magazine piece.
To ABC News, Muth described his marriage the way some may have characterized his embellishments.
“She provided the stage, I the play,” he said.
Howard Koplowitz reports on crime and breaking news events for International Business Times. Howard formerly worked on IBT's continuous news desk, where he covered trending...