July 31, 2013

Family's summer more restful since arrest of North Pond Hermit

'First of all, we don't have to triple lock all of our windows and doors,' says Garry Hollands, whose family owns a cabin on Little North Pond.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

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click image to enlarge

Garrett Hollands said a shelter, at left, in Rome was discovered in the late 1980s. A wooden framed bunker excavated into the side of a hill contained books, a bed frame, cooking material and propane tanks behind a sliding glass window entrance, according to Hollands. Remnants of glass and metal were still apparent when Holland led his family to the site on July 3.

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

A metal bed frame in the collapsed shelter in Rome that Garrett Hollands was discovered in the late 1980s. Wednesday July 3

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

"When I saw it the first time, it was pretty much intact," Hollands said. "But the window had been broken."

Hollands theorized it was a temporary, rather than a permanent camp.

"He may have built a number he could use if he needed to. I think he had more than one of those to go to. He had to pick up a 20-pound gas can and carry it somewhere in the dark," Hollands said. "You'd have to have way stations."

Across the stream, the base of a propane-fueled grill was upended among the leaves. More of the Charette Gas Grill was closer to the cave. Advertisements for similar grills date to 1976.

"It seemed clear to me that he existed," said David Smith of Wayne, Pa., who went on the 2013 pilgrimage and who has been visiting the Hollands, his in-laws, since 1988. The hike to the site is usually around the Fourth of July holiday.

Trouble from the start

The Hollands' trouble with a burglar began in 1989, as they were building their cabin by lake.

"Once the roof was up, we would bring the family up," Garry Hollands said. They slept in sleeping bags, leaving them at the Rome site while they went back and forth to their Massachusetts home.

Then one day, two of the L.L. Bean down sleeping bags were missing. "We feel we don't have to put all those other locks on windows so I can just open and close them without going through all those different steps," Brenda Hollands said.

She thought at the time that they must have taken them home. But then they weren't at home either. Then a Coleman stove disappeared. Then batteries from a flashlight. Then a set of pots and pans.

Then they talked to Bob Moreau, a longtime Rome resident and selectman. "There's somebody in the woods," he told them.

When the Hollands found sand in their bedroom they realized the intruder was getting in a window.

Brenda Hollands said she initially believed their home was less a target for burglary because of the new construction, with sturdy new windows. But the realization that someone had gotten in easily shook her. So the Hollands put extra screws and locks on all the windows and extra locks on the entry door.

"You just don't want someone coming in the house," Brenda Hollands said. Today, they have an alarm system.

Their boat was vulnerable as well. Four marine batteries were taken over the years, two each time.

A year or so later after some of the thefts, Garry Hollands said he learned hunters found the campsite they believed was being used by the burglar, and they destroyed it. That was when he went to visit it.

"When I first saw it, there were things scattered all over the place," Hollands said.

This year, their sojourns in Maine have a more restful atmosphere.

"First of all, we don't have to triple lock all of our windows and doors," Garry Hollands said. "You don't have that feeling that somebody is sneaking around and you don't know who that person is or what they're up to and whether they're dangerous or not."

Betty Adams -- 621-5631


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Additional Photos

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The overturned lid of a gas grill is covered in leaves in the collapse shelter in Rome that Garrett Hollands said was discovered in the late 1980s. Wednesday July 3

Andy Molloy / Staff Photographer


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