BOSTON – Citing his "ingenious capacity" for deception, a judge on Thursday reversed an earlier ruling and ordered the German man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller held without bail on a charge of kidnapping his 7-year-old daughter.
Authorities say Rockefeller is really Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who has been living under multiple identities — including a physicist, a ship captain, and a Wall Street trader — since coming to the United States in 1978. He's also a "person of interest" in the 1985 disappearance of a California couple.
"Before me is somebody who by his life appears to have demonstrated a capacity — a very ingenious capacity — to transform himself and to maneuver his way around this country and the world through deception and the exercise of obviously powerful intelligence," said Judge D. Lloyd Macdonald.
Gerhartsreiter had asked for a reduction in the $50 million bail set by a magistrate earlier this week. His lawyer, Stephen Hrones, said authorities could keep track of him by confining him to his home and requiring him to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.
But Macdonald said he could not think of any bail conditions that would ensure Gerhartsreiter would show up for his trial.
Gerhartsreiter, 47, has pleaded not guilty to parental kidnapping, assault and other charges for allegedly snatching his daughter, Reigh Boss, off a Boston street on July 27.
Gerhartsreiter was on a supervised visit with the girl, the first since he and the girl's mother, Sandra Boss, divorced in December. Authorities say he pushed a social worker who was overseeing the visit and jumped into a waiting car. The social worker received minor injuries when he tried to grab onto the car and fell to the ground.
After a massive manhunt, Gerhartsreiter was arrested Aug. 2 in Baltimore, where authorities said he had bought a home and planned to live indefinitely with his daughter.
California authorities have called Gerhartsreiter a "person of interest" in the 1985 disappearance of a San Marino, California, couple, Jonathan and Linda Sohus.
During the bail review hearing, Hrones conceded that Gerhartsreiter "liked to tell tall tales" and used various names over the years, but said that should not affect a decision on his bail.
Hrones downplayed the kidnapping charge, saying he took his daughter after his ex-wife took their daughter to live in London.
"Naturally, he was very upset, so he did take his child," Hrones said.
But Assistant District Attorney David Deakin said Gerhartsreiter had been planning the kidnapping for months. Deakin said that in March, Gerhartsreiter told real estate agents in Baltimore he was a ship captain named Charles "Chip" Smith who was looking to buy a house for him and his daughter, "Muffy."
Deakin told the judge Gerhartsreiter had obtained false birth certificates and used so many different names over the years that it took authorities weeks to figure out his true identity.
Hrones said he will likely appeal the bail ruling to the state Supreme Judicial Court
"He should be given reasonable bail," he said. "The high-profile nature of this case prevents him from being treated as he should."