Kevin Cullen

Stranger than fiction

By Kevin Cullen
Globe Columnist / August 11, 2008

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If we didn't have Clark Rockefeller, we'd have to make him up.

Actually, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter did us the favor, and he has saved the summer of 2008 from being one long infomercial about the Olympics.

How good was that photo of him in the Globe yesterday, looking like the lost member of the Bay City Rollers. This thing just keeps getting better and better and nuttier and nuttier.

I am of the opinion that the Globe, Herald, and all the TV stations in town should pitch in to create a huge slush fund that will pay for Herr Gerhartsreiter's defense.

We can't let this guy just cop a plea. This is better than Sox Appeal. We need a trial. But a trial costs money, and Steve Hrones, Esquire, he doesn't come cheap.

As German psycho trials go, this one will pale in comparison to the prosecution five years ago of Armin Meiwes, the computer technician known as the Rotenburg Cannibal who killed and ate some guy he had met by placing an ad on the Internet, saying he was looking for someone to kill and eat. Meiwes admitted he dismembered and ate the guy. His defense? He said his newfound friend wanted to be eaten.

No, the trial of Herr Gerhartsreiter will be wacky, but not that wacky. Still, think of all the trickle-down benefits to the local economy when the international media descend on Boston. The Germans have already started to arrive, which is terrific.

I've worked with German journalists, in Germany, and in war zones, and they are a brave, fearless lot. But more importantly, in this thing we call a recession, German reporters spend money like, well, like drunken Germans. Let me tell you, those boys know how to pad an expense account. Their idea of a couple of cocktails is, like, 14 beers. (Memo to my colleagues at the Herald and the broadcast media: I have first dibs on lunch with the guy from Stern magazine.)

Now, if you're a normal person, which means you haven't read this far, you would have already concluded that Herr Gerhartsreiter is a little bekloppt, as they say in Bavaria, nutty as a fruitcake, a con man without a conscience, absent any chance of redemption.

And I would be in your camp. We should all be thankful no physical harm came to his young daughter. And we should grieve for the families in California who obviously believe this sociopath killed their loved ones.

His last wife, who married him without really knowing him, must be thinking she got off easy, paying a measly million just to get rid of him.

But, really, do you think it's gonna end like this?

There's some circumstantial evidence tying Herr Gerhartsreiter to the presumed slaying of the guy. Neither the guy's wife nor her remains have ever been found. But slapping a murder rap on the con man from Bavaria is a stretch, at this point.

Still, it would be great to see Herr Whackjob extradited to California, if only because Governor Terminator would have to sign the papers and, perhaps, say his name - Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter - for all the TV cameras. It's a well-known fact that Austrians have impeccable German.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evidence is, like Christopher Chichester's affected English toff accent, pretty weak.

Fear not. Hollywood has picked up the scent. The papers seeking the rights to Herr Loony's story have already been drawn up. Getting them to him in the can is the tricky part. But the agents and treatment writers are circling this circus, like sharks.

No, this is what I see and this is what I fear: Our boy Christian gets done for kidnapping his own kid, does a little time and gets out. The murder case languishes for lack of evidence. And Herr Rockefeller gets to star in his own movie, his own reality TV show, or, at the very least, a radio show.

You heard it here first.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at