August 27, 2013

North Pond Hermit enters not guilty plea

He makes his first response in court to theft charges, but his fate after jail could delay a resolution.

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

STATUS: Christopher Knight appeared at Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on Tuesday May 28, 2013. Police said that Knight lived in the woods of Rome, Maine for 27 years, allegedly burglarizing nearby camps for food and supplies hundreds of times in order to survive, before being caught and arrested on Thursday, April 4, 2013. The case against Knight, 47, was set to be presented to the grand jury but District Attorney Maeghan Maloney stated last week that his case will be put off until a mental health evaluation is complete. Justice Michaela Murphy directed the district attorney and Knight's attorney to confer about his status.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

The other four indictments accuse him of burglarizing private residences in Rome and Smithfield.

On Tuesday, Knight was arraigned in Kennebec County Superior Court during a 10-minute hearing before Justice Michaela Murphy.

Knight has another hearing set for Oct. 8.

Knight's story of surviving alone so long in the Maine woods and burglarizing camps for supplies has attracted worldwide media attention and some sympathy, but victims of the burglaries have said they feel more secure knowing a suspect is behind bars.

Sheriff's deputies, state police and wardens for decades had sought an elusive burglar who seemed to know when camp owners had stocked up on food and propane and other supplies. His image was caught several times on surveillance cameras, but he was able to elude capture. Knight reportedly told investigators that he had spoken to only one other person in his years in the woods -- a hiker in the 1990s.

Property owners around North Pond, Little North Pond and East Pond believe were frequent victims over the years of a burglar who would take items including food, propane tanks, and batteries from their lakeside cottages.

After his arrest, Knight allegedly told police he had committed more 1,000 burglaries during the 27 years he spent living alone in the woods in the Rome and Smithfield area, which is about 20 miles north of Augusta.

Maloney also said she believes the case has attracted so much interest because Knight lived outside of society for so long.

"There's a part in each of us that wants to escape at certain points and go out and live in the woods," Maloney said. "We all have our days when we think that. He awakens that in us. The reality is that none of us would want to live in the Maine woods in the winter."

Last Thursday, Knight was indicted by a grand jury in Kennebec County on six burglary and five theft charges. Earlier this month, he also was indicted on one burglary and one theft charge by a grand jury in Somerset County.

The charges go back to 2008. The statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from pursuing charges that date farther back.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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