Rockefeller Impostor Ordered to Stand Trial in San Marino Slaying

Mihoko Manabe testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Christian Gerhartsreiter, aka Clark Rockefeller

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    Christian Gerhartsreiter, left, is escorted into the courtroom.

    The ex-girlfriend of a Rockefeller impostor accused in the death of a man in San Marino nearly three decades ago testified Tuesday that he changed his appearance shortly after receiving a call from a detective.

    Mihoko Manabe testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Christian Gerhartsreiter. He posed as a member of the Rockefeller family and used various aliases, but Manabe said she knew him as Christopher Crowe.

    It was in 1988 when she received the call from a detective looking for her boyfriend. She told the court Tuesday that he became panicked, had her dye his hair blonde, grew a beard, exchanged his glasses for contact lenses, and made plans to leave the country.

    "The gist of it was that because he was going to put me through this, he was going to marry me," she said.

    After he lost his job, she supported him and obtained a credit card under the name "Clark Rockefeller," Manabe testified. He later reneged on the marriage proposal, and the two broke up in 1994, Manabe said.

    The seven-year relationship with Manabe is just one part of the mysterious life of Gerhartsreiter, who went by at least five aliases, according to a criminal complaint.

    The preliminary hearing involves the case of John Sohus, who disappeared shortly before Gerhartsreiter moved to Connecticut with the Sohus' truck nearly 30 years ago. John Sohus' bones were found in the backyard of his San Marino home -- Gerhartsreiter rented a cottage on the property -- in 1994.

    His wife, who disappeared at the same time, remains missing.

    The discovery of Sohus' remains by construction workers
    digging a hole for a swimming pool touched off an investigation that led to Gerhartsreiter, already serving a prison term in Massachusetts for kidnapping his own daughter in 2008.

    A judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Tuesday marked the sixth day of testimony in the preliminary phase.

    [UPDATE, Wednesday, 6:26 a.m.] Gerhartsreiter was ordered to stand trial testimony ended Tuesday.

    Gerhartsreiter faces up to 26 years to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

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