Former officer testifies in ‘Clark Rockefeller’ trial that she saw victim’s mother become upset as months went by

LOS ANGELES — A former San Marino, Calif., police officer testified today that John Sohus’s mother seemed distraught when the officer visited her months after her son and daughter-in-law had disappeared.

“She was crying. She was upset. ... She just seemed more agitated and upset than I had ever seen her before,” said former officer Lili Hadsell of a visit to Ruth “Didi” Sohus on July 8, 1985, five months after John and Linda Sohus were last seen.

Hadsell said she had visited several times before and, at those times, the mother had seemed confident her son would return.

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Hadsell was one of three fomer officers who testified today during the Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter murder trial in Los Angeles Superior Court about their visits to the mother’s home on Lorian Road to investigate the disappearance of the newlyweds.

Gerhartsreiter, the con man whose multiple identities included playing the role of Clark Rockefeller in Boston, is charged with murdering John Sohus.

A neighbor had testified Thursday that after the disappearances, the mother started drinking heavily, became sullen, and stopped the upkeep on the house and yard, eventually selling it and moving, heartbroken, to a trailer court.

Gerhartsreiter moved to San Marino around 1981 and began renting the guest quarters of the house owned by Didi Sohus. John and Linda Sohus moved into the main house after their marriage in October 1983. John Sohus’s remains were found buried in the house’s back yard in May 1994; Linda Sohus is missing and presumed dead.

Gerhartsreiter left California in 1985 and moved to New York, then New Hampshire, and eventually Boston. He was able to ease into wealthy circles and move among the elite of New England high society, calling himself Clark Rockefeller and passing himself off as a relative of the famous industrialist.

He married Sandra Boss, a Harvard Business School graduate and partner at a consulting firm with a $2 million annual salary, in 1995. They had a daughter, Reigh, in 2001 before they divorced in December 2006.

Gerhartsreiter created an international sensation in 2008 after authorities, prosecuting him for abducting his 7-year-old daughter, exposed his past as mostly a fabrication. By then, he had used about a half-dozen aliases.

Gerhartsreiter received a five-year Massachusetts sentence in the kidnapping, but by that time had caught the attention of California authorities seeking to solve the John Sohus homicide.

The murder trial is expected to last about a month. With one week already complete, 20 witnesses have already testified from a list of 50, and 100 exhibits have been entered as evidence.