Friends With A Murderer

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Catie Cobble, Reporter

 

Walter Kirn spoke at the eighth session of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference on July 20, 2019. Kirn is the author of the award winning book, Blood Will Out. The book provides a vivid description of Kirn’s friendship with deceptive murderer Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter and how their relationship changed when Gerhartsreiter was found guilty of two murders and the custodial kidnapping of his daughter.

“The book was written by an honest man because he had to get honest,” Walter Kirn said when asked about his self-growth while writing his book.

Kirn and Gerhartsreiter first met while Gerhartsreiter was under the alias, Clark Rockefeller. Rockefeller adopted a crippled dog online from Kirn and Kirn was tasked with driving the dog from Montana to New York. Immediately, Kirn spotted red flags. Even though Rockefeller was posing as a member of the elite Rockefeller family, his apartment was completely unfurnished except for a single couch covered in dog hair. Even the kitchen was empty. In an attempt to prove to Kirn that he was capable of taking care of the dog, Rockefeller said that the dog would have a chef that would provide four course meals that would not be repeated within a 30 day period. After their first time meeting, the two stayed in contact with each other and became friends over the course of 15 years.

“He had motives that I didn’t expect at the time,” Kirn said.

Little did Kirn know that by the time they first met, Rockefeller had already committed two murders, lived as five different aliases, and had been previously arrested for the custodial kidnapping of his daughter. Before the two men met, Clark Rockefeller was married to business woman Sandra Boss, and had a daughter, Reigh Boss. After a few years, Sandra filed for a divorce and gained almost full custody of Reigh. On August 2, 2018, Rockefeller was convicted of six days of custodial kidnapping after abducting his daughter while she was visiting him. Kirn did not know any of this at the time because Rockefeller spun an elaborate tale on his family’s tragic back story. He used this story to ease suspicion when he would use different names for hotels and reservations.

“He couldn’t get through a normal day without telling at least three well-fabricated lies,” Kirn said. “It’s a spy game.”

Throughout the 15 years of their friendship, Rockefeller would invite Kirn to extravagant parties and outings. However, most of these outings were also built on lies.

“Next thing you know, you’re in their mansion that you didn’t even know was rented,” Kirn said. “He was a charming guy, you know? If that guy had social media, oh he’d be president of the United States!”

Clark Rockefeller was the last alias Gerhartsreiter used before being arrested for murder. The two victims were husband and wife and had let Rockefeller stay on their property with them. It was during this time that Rockefeller murdered the couple. Only Jonathan Sohus’ body has been found, his wife is still missing. Gerhartsreiter was chased by police for being a suspect of their disappearance.

When asked if when looking back, Kirn ever felt his life was in danger, Kirn responded with, “Yes.”  Though Rockefeller was convicted of two murders, Kirn has the suspicion that there may be other bodies that have not yet been found. Rockefeller asked Kirn many times if he could live and stay on his property. Kirn refused every time and feels as if he dodged a bullet.

“You know I think that if he had come to stay with me, then there definitely would’ve been an accident out there one day.” Kirn said about how he felt about his personal safety after the news of the murders was released.

So how was Gerhartsreiter able to keep up the charade for so long? Many people who have read the book think they would have never been fooled by the con artist.

“Vanity, vanity, vanity.” Rockefeller once told Kirn.

Rockefeller mastered the art of con after years of practice. He was even able to hide his German accent while posing as a Rockefeller.

“The con is the reward,” Kirn said. “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Clark Rockefeller is currently in prison in California serving 27 years to life. Kirn has visited Rockefeller multiple times.

“Hello Walter. How are the children?” Rockefeller asked creepily during their first jail meeting. This statement was taken as more proof that he was a psychopath because of the complete lack of understanding the tension of their encounter.

“I think jail is a very good place for him,” Kirn said. “Not to write a character like this would be literary malpractice.”