For immediate release

February 25, 2014

San Gabriel Valley true crime weekend with Esotouric’s Pasadena Confidential tour, Frank Girardot’s LAVA crime lab talk on Clark Rockefeller

EVENT #1: Saturday, March 15, 12-4pm – Esotouric presents “Pasadena Confidential with Crimebo the Clown “ crime bus tour (departs from 1017 South Fair Oaks, South Pasadena, CA 91105, $58/person)

EVENT #2: Sunday, March 16, 12-4pm – Professor Donald Johnson, in association with LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and Esotouric, presents a fundraiser lecture/tour benefiting the CSULA Criminalistics graduate department: “Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery” hosted by Frank Girardot (at The Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center at Cal State L.A., 1800 Paseo Rancho Castilla, Los Angeles, CA 90032, $36.50/person)

CONTACT: Kim, amscrayATgmailDOTcom, 213-373-1947

LOS ANGELES- There’s just something special about the notorious crimes of greater Los Angeles, the way they resonate in the consciousness, and continue to fascinate years after the fact. In March, LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association and Esotouric, L.A.‘s most eclectic bus adventure company, dedicate a weekend to uncovering the reality behind some of the San Gabriel Valley’s most compelling and unusual crime stories.

These two lurid yet educational events — Esotouric’s historic Pasadena Confidential crime bus tour exploring the criminal lore of a grand old neighborhood, and a LAVA crime lab tour and seminar featuring the true stories of crime investigation from longtime San Gabriel Valley reporter Frank Girardot — offer something for anyone seeking an opportunity to get behind the headlines and explore fascinating true crime cases with a depth and seriousness rarely offered to the public. This true crime weekend is a must for intelligent crime aficionados and those with a passion for the untold stories of Los Angeles.

ABOUT ESOTOURIC’S PASADENA CONFIDENTIAL TOUR: The Crown City masquerades as a calm and refined retreat, where well-bred ladies glide around their perfect bungalows and everyone knows what fork to use first. But don’t be fooled by appearances. Dip into the confidential files of old Pasadena and meet assassins and oddballs, kidnappers and slashers, Satanists and all manner of maniac in a delightful little tour you WON’T find recommended by the better class of people! From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination (with a visit to Sirhan Sirhan’s folks’ house), “Eraserhead” star Jack Nance’s strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons’ death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour’s dozens of murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that’s as fascinating as it is creepy. Passengers will tour the old Millionaire’s Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall and discover why people named Judd should think twice before moving to Pasadena. Special guest host: Crimebo the Clown, leading crime bus passengers out onto “Suicide Bridge” for a memorable view of the Arroyo where dozens plunged to their deaths.

ABOUT LAVA’S CRIME LAB EVENT: Frank Girardot, editor of the Pasadena Star-News and author of “Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery” hosts this March 16 fundraiser for the Criminalistics graduate department at Cal State L.A., the latest in a series of events at the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center at Cal State L.A. Since their debut in fall 2010, LAVA’s crime lab seminars have become the a must for true crime aficionados, mystery writers, television producers and offbeat history buffs.

Leave it to LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionaries Association, the creative consortium helmed by Richard Schave and Kim Cooper, the married couple whose Esotouric bus adventures have transformed the guided tour experience, to make a real-life CSI experience accessible to interested laypersons. Working closely with one of LAVA’s most intriguing Visionary members, Professor Donald Johnson, they’ve developed a series of events highlighting the work conducted at Cal State L.A.‘s state-of-the-art Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, presented through tours and in depth lectures from scientist-educators, law enforcement investigators and true crime reporters. Between the presentations, graduate students offer insights into their research and tours of the teaching crime lab.

In Presentation One, Frank Girardot goes in depth on the case of Clark Rockefeller, subject of his recent book. Discover the strange tale of a teenaged German immigrant who remade himself as a scion of one of America’s most distinguished families. In April 2013, “Rockefeller” (real name Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter) was convicted in the 1985 slaying of John Sohus, whose trisected body was found in the backyard of a home in San Marino, and whose young wife Linda vanished, never to be seen again. Frank will take us along on “Rockefeller’s” decades-long career of fraud in high places, culminating in the child kidnapping that would draw international headlines and finally deliver him into police custody. The murder case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence that singularly might not have amounted to a conviction. Taken together the evidence, which included blood, fingerprints, old ID cards and a stolen car, was solid. What resulted in the conviction? Probably a simple light shone on a plastic bag sold in a university bookstore for a very limited period of time. The man once known as Rockefeller is now simply Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, 52, a resident of a medium security prison in the San Joaquin Valley serving out a 25-to-life sentence for killing John Sohus.

In Presentation Two, Frank Girardot will lower his guard, roll up his sleeves, and look back on three decades in the newspaper business reporting on criminal investigations and the law enforcement agencies which conduct them, distilling for us the best and the worst, like how a murderous tagger might as well have signed his name at the crime scene, or the paramedics who left brain matter on a dead man’s driveway for his family to clean up, or a con-man who used Craigslist to bilk dozens of needy would-be renters, and what still keeps him up at night: an unsolved double murder in Monrovia that occurred during a ride-along in the 1990s.

By the afternoon’s conclusion, attendees will have a deeper understanding of the real work that’s done by local crime desk reporters, and the tools and techniques used to interpret crime scenes for the benefit of investigating officers and juries. Come discover the reality, so different from and so much more interesting than what you’ve seen on TV.

ABOUT FRANK GIRARDOT: Frank Girardot is the editor of the Pasadena Star-News. Born in Detroit, Michigan, raised in the Silicon Valley, he got start as a copy boy in the late 1980s. Working as a newspaper reporter and editor in Los Angeles since 1989, he has covered floods, fires, explosions, strikes, plane crashes, rapes, suicides, amnesia victims, political conventions, and the murder trial of OJ Simpson. Favorite pastime is following a good murder, as is evidenced in his new book, “Name Dropper: Investigating the Clark Rockefeller Mystery.”

ABOUT LAVA: Through participation in LAVA, a select group of creative professionals come together to promote cultural programming that speaks to the urban experience while promoting positive public space. LAVA’s creative partners share a love for L.A. and unique ideas for exploring it in their work. Formed by social historians RICHARD SCHAVE and KIM COOPER—proprietors of Esotouric bus adventures and the 1947project time travel blog series (including On Bunker Hill and In SRO Land)—LAVA brings together L.A.‘s most visionary promoters, artists, writers and thinkers. The first crop of Visionaries in the growing curated community includes cultural chronicler ADRIENNE CREW, artist and Eastside historian AL GUERRERO, Cacophony Society co-founder AL RIDENOUR, avant garde fashion maven A. LAURA BRODY, poet/publisher ALEIDA RODRIGUEZ, back-to-nature pioneer ALICIA BAY LAUREL, filmmaker ALLISON ANDERS, writer/curator ALLON SCHOENER, designer/mom of Chicken Boy AMY INOUYE, actor/musician ANDY BEN, custom tours maven ANNE BLOCK, documentarian/radio producer ANTHEA RAYMOND, author/gallerist APRIL DAMMANN, memoirist BARBARA KRAFT, pop culture historian BECKY EBENKAMP, ethnomusicologist BETO GONZALEZ, puppeteer BOB BAKER, tile historian BRIAN KAISER, producer/promoter CHRISTIAN VOLTAIRE MEOLI, cultural events programmer CHRISTINA GALANTE, musician COUNT SMOKULA, performance artist CRIMEBO THE CLOWN, writer/Libros Schmibros proprietor DAVID KIPEN, Novelist DAVID ROCKLIN, forensic educator DEREK PACIFICO, literary curator D.M. COLLINS, sculptor DONALD GIALANELLA, forensic scientist/educator DONALD JOHNSON, author/educator DOROTHY RANDALL GRAY, educator and historic cemetery board member DWAIN CARLO CRUM, artist ELENA MARY SIFF, documentarian ELIJAH DRENNER, conversation curator ERIC VOLLMER, social connector EVONNE HEYNING, musician/performance artist FEATHERBEARD, photographer GARY LEONARD, pop critic/outsider artist GENE SCULATTI, musician/artist GEORGE EARTH, songsmith HARVEY SID FISHER, theater director HOLLY WITHAM, musician/writer IAN WHITCOMB, artist JASON HADLEY, food blogger JAVIER CABRAL, musician JEFF BOYNTON, filmmaker JEREMY KASTEN, musician JIMI CABEZA DE VACA, social historian JOAN RENNER, writer/artist JOE OESTERLE, writer JOHN BUNTIN, filmmaker JON ALLOWAY, documentarian JOHN DULLAGHAN, Musso & Frank co-owner JORDAN JONES, performance artist JULES ROCHIELLE, cemetery historian KARIE BIBLE. curator JULIE RICO, cultural curator and writer KIM OHANNESON, “Kristin’s List” cultural chronicler KRISTIN BEDFORD, songstress/prognosticator MADAME PAMITA, esoteric scholar MAJA D’AOUST, author/broadcaster MANNY PACHECO, writer MARGUERITE DARLINGTON, performer McCRISTOL HARRIS, visual artist MELVIN HALE, journalist MICHAEL LINDER, photographic archivist MICHAEL RISNER, poet/dancer MONA JEAN CEDAR, architectural historian NATHAN MARSAK, writer NEAL POLLOCK, theater director NICHOLAS HOSKING, L.A. Historic Theater Foundation rep NICK MATONAK, music producer NO’A WINTER LAZERUS, musician OCTAVIUS, writer /photographer /musician PAUL KOUDOUNARIS, peace activist PAUL NUGENT of the Aetherius Society, 3-D photography expert RAY 3D ZONE, activist and performer RD PLASSCHAERT, historic ghost seeker RICHARD CARRADINE, artist/musician RICH POLYSORBATE 60, filmmaker/preservationist ROSS LIPMAN, singer-songwriter RUTHANN FRIEDMAN, poet S.A. GRIFFIN, ghost hunter SARAH TROOP, social networking mistress SHAWNA DAWSON, painter/gallerist SUSAN DOBAY, artist/writer/activist SUSANNA DAKIN, Warhol star and writer TERE TEREBA, sculptor TOM WALKER, musical entertainer THE UKULADY, and hat designer YASMIN DIXON.

Applications from prospective LAVA members are being taken at

To learn more about LAVA, please visit

LAVA founders Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, Professor Donald Johnson and most of LAVA’s Visionary members are available for interviews, and a very limited number of journalists on assignment can be accommodated at the seminar and on the crime bus. Contact Kim at amscrayATgmailDOTcom, 213-373-1947.