Real Names: Jonathan and Linda Sohus
Nicknames: John (Jonathan), Cody (Linda)
Location: San Marino, California
Date: February 8, 1985
Occupation: Computer Programmer (John), Artist (Linda)
Date of Birth: December 20, 1956 (John), September 17, 1956 (Linda)
Height: 5'6 (John), 6'0 (Linda)
Weight: 120 lbs. (John), 200 lbs. (Linda)
Marital Status: Married (to each other)
Characteristics: Caucasian male. Brown hair, brown eyes (John). Caucasian female. Red hair, blue eyes (Linda).
Details: In May 1994, during digging for a pool, the dismembered skeletal remains of a man were found buried in the yard of a home in San Marino, California. Police and family members believe it belongs to John Sohus, but since he was adopted, there is no way to make an identification using his family DNA.
He and his wife, Linda, were living in the home with John's mother, Didi. He worked part-time computer programming jobs while she worked as an artist. On February 8, 1985, the couple disappeared after telling their friends that they had been enlisted by the government to do some top-secret work. Linda had told her friend Sue that the trip would last two weeks. However, the return date came and went. The couple did not return to San Marino. A few weeks later, Linda's sister Kathy received a call from a kennel. She learned that Linda had left her six cats there and paid for a two-week stay. However, she never returned to pick up the cats.
Shortly after they vanished, friends and family started receiving postcards from them in Paris. They did not say why they were in Paris instead of New York, or why they had not returned. John's mother, Didi, was given exclusive information from a man she called her "source" about how they were on a "secret mission". At first, she was reluctant to give police any information about her missing son and daughter-in-law. However, by the summer of 1985, she decided to file a missing persons report on the couple. She also told police that her source was the Sohus' former tenant, Christopher Chichester, and that he had vanished a few months earlier, along with John's pickup truck.
Soon after filing the report, Did sold her house and moved to a trailer park. Three years later, she passed away without knowing what happened to her son. Nine months later, his truck turned up in Greenwich, Connecticut, when a man named Christopher Crowe was selling it to a minister's son. Police later found out that he was actually Christopher Chichester. However, by that time, he had vanished again.
It wouldn't be until May 1994, when the skeleton was found, that the investigation began to start up again. Forensic tests could determine that it was probably John's based on his physical description, but without DNA or dental records, they could not conclusively prove that it was his. Detectives used luminol in the guest house on the Sohus property, which determined that someone was probably murdered in there. However, both John and Linda remain missing.
Suspects: The police would like to track down Christopher Chichester and ask him a few questions. It is unrevealed if Linda is alive after orchestrating her disappearance or likewise murdered with John. Police have since determined that his real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, and that he is from Germany. He was born in 1961, is 5'8", and 150 pounds.
Results: Unresolved. Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter was apprehended in 2008. He was using the alias Clark Rockefeller and was arrested right after he abducted his seven-year-old daughter. Over the years, he had conned friends and even his ex-wife into believing he was a part of the wealthy Rockefeller family. Authorities reopened the investigation of the Sohus case after his parental kidnapping trial concluded. He was sentenced to four-to-five years in state prison on the kidnapping charge, and additional time for an assault charge. He has, however, refused to cooperate with police in their investigation of the Sohus case.
In March 2011, he was charged with John's murder. Investigators finally located John's birth family; DNA testing from his family members confirmed that the remains found in the backyard of the house belonged to him. At the trial, along with the luminol evidence, prosecutors had several witnesses testify against Gerhartsreiter.
Multiple neighbors remembered seeing strange-colored smoke coming from his chimney around the time of the murders. He also had asked friends about places that he could dispose of drums filled with "chemicals" (John's remains were found in a metal drum). Around the time of the murder, he borrowed a chainsaw from a neighbor and tried to sell a bloodstained rug to a friend. Also, around that same time, a friend noticed that the ground near the guest house had been dug up. He claimed that he was having problems; however, the same area was where John's body would later be found. Finally, two bags found with John's remains came from two universities that Gerharstreiter had attended.
On April 10, 2013, Gerhartsreiter was convicted by a Los Angeles jury of first-degree murder for that of John. However, Linda has never been found, but police believe that she is dead.
- John and Linda Sohus on Unsolved.com
- Linda's Case on the Charley Project
- A years-long search in vain
- Radar may yield clues on missing San Marino pair
- Crews finish dig at home
- Mother, sister tell of mysterious disappearance of Linda Sohus, during ‘Clark Rockefeller’ murder trial
- Rockefeller impostor gets 27 years to life in California murder
- People v. Gerhartsreiter