BOSTON – The man she knew as Clark Rockefeller wooed her with his sharp intellect, charisma and stories about his work helping struggling nations.
At first, she had no reason to doubt his accounts of his past, including his Rockefeller name and his claim that he attended Yale at age 14, Sandra Boss testified Monday at his kidnapping trial. But slowly, over their 12-year marriage, she began to doubt he was who he said he was, she testified.
Concerned for her daughter's safety, she asked a judge to grant her full custody in their 2007 divorce. Her husband agreed, but in exchange asked for a large divorce settlement.
As part of the $800,000 settlement, he agreed to have just three supervised visits a year with his daughter, Reigh, she said. But during their first visit, in July 2008, Boss' worst fears were realized: Her ex-husband took the girl and fled.
Rockefeller, whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, is accused of kidnapping their daughter after shoving a social worker who was overseeing the visit to the ground. Father and daughter were found in Baltimore six days later. The girl was unharmed.
His lawyers say he is mentally ill and is not criminally responsible for his actions.
"I was completely traumatized," Boss testified.
"I was hysterical. I was devastated ... there's really no way to describe it. It was horrible," she said.
Boss' testimony was the first time she told her story in public. She remained composed throughout much of her testimony, her voice trembling slightly when she talked about her daughter, nicknamed Snooks.
She did not look at her ex-husband until she was asked to identify him by the prosecutor. She repeatedly referred to him as "the defendant."
Prosecutors say Gerhartsreiter, a German-born man, is a con artist who has used numerous aliases since moving to the United States in 1978.
Boss said that she met the man she knew as Clark Rockefeller in New York in 1993 through her sister, first seeing him at a "Clue" board game-themed party he held. He came as Professor Plum, she as Miss Scarlet.
He was "very intelligent, very polite, could talk about anything," she said. "I mean, really interesting ... also, really very charming."
They started dating when she was in Boston attending Harvard Business School and he was living in New York. He proposed in the spring of 1994, and they got married in a small ceremony on Nantucket in October 1995.
She said she saw an angrier side of him after they were married in 1995, as he became more controlling and critical of her friends. Eventually it became a "stressful" relationship, she said.
The couple first separated for several months in 2000, but Boss said she decided to stay and work on her marriage after learning she was pregnant.
She was working as an executive at a management consulting company in New York City, and he was not contributing any income to the household, she said. After several moves, the family ended up in Cornish, N.H., then in Boston in 2006.
In early 2007, Boss finally filed for divorce. She said she had grown suspicious of her husband's stories about his past and hired a private detective.
"I was asking him to find out who my soon-to-be ex-husband was," she said.
After getting a report from the investigator, she filed an affidavit in probate court asking for full custody of their daughter.
"The point of it was that the defendant was not the person he'd said he was and that was a cause for great concern," she said.
Boss said her husband filed a response in court, but did not provide proof of his identity.
A few days later, she said, his lawyer approached her lawyer and proposed an agreement that would give her full custody of her daughter and limited visitation for her husband, who asked for a $1 million settlement. That amount was negotiated down to $800,000, and he also got two cars, her engagement ring and a dress, which she did not describe.
Boss was scheduled to resume her testimony Tuesday with cross-examination by Gerhartsreiter's lawyers.
Earlier Monday, a livery driver who acted as the getaway driver when Rockefeller snatched his daughter said he was an unwitting accomplice.
Darryl Hopkins said Gerhartsreiter offered him $3,000 to help him "get rid of" a friend. The "friend" was a social worker overseeing a supervised visit between Gerhartsreiter and his daughter.
Hopkins admitted he followed Gerhartsreiter's instructions to drive away, even though the social worker was holding onto the car door. The social worker fell and suffered bruises and a mild concussion.