April 10, 2013

After 27 years of burglaries, 'North Pond Hermit' is arrested

Christopher Knight, 47, says he stole to survive solitary life in the woods of western Maine.

See additional videos below

By Craig Crosby Kennebec Journal

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Game Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes, right, Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance, center, and Somerset County Deputy Sheriff Jeremy Leal on Tuesday inspect Christopher Knight's camp in a remote, wooded section of Rome.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight

Contributed photo

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

This player is used for Central Maine Live Streaming

Maine Warden Service Sgt. Terry Hughes discusses encountering Christopher Knight, the alleged North Pond Hermit, at the Pine Tree Camp on Thursday.

This player is used for Central Maine Live Streaming

Maine Warden Service Sgt. Terry Hughes and Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance discuss Christopher Knight's habits and life in the woods of Rome.

"I don't know how he learned that," Hughes said.

Hughes, who spent eight years in the U.S. Marines and 18 years with the warden service finding and tracking experienced woodsmen, marveled at Knight's meticulousness.

Knight, who led Hughes and Perkins-Vance to his campsite, carefully avoided snow, stepped on rocks when he could and even avoided breaking branches in thick growth. Knight usually put on weight in the fall so he would have to eat less in the winter and thus avoid making treks for food and risk leaving prints in the snow.

"Every step was calculated," Hughes said.

Inside the encampment

Knight often made the trip at night, carrying stolen supplies, using only a pen light.

He draped dark tarps over rope strung between trees, and tarps underneath, to give added protection from rain. One of those ropes has been in place so long that it has grown deep into the tree.

Inside the tent on Tuesday, there was a bed, somehow raised off the ground, surrounded by Rubbermaid totes that he used as nightstands to hold his radio and other supplies.

Outside he had fashioned an antenna to the top of the tree, about 30 feet in the air, with a cable running into his tent. Knight told police he listened to talk radio, such as Rush Limbaugh, and WBLM. For a short time Knight even had a TV but he found it drained his batteries too quickly.

Knight cooked with a pair of propane stoves. A large stockpile of empty tanks was stashed in the makeshift dump he created near his tent.

The campsite is neat and orderly — remarkably civilized for someone who tried so desperately to avoid civilization. Knight even set up mouse traps inside his tents to keep the critters from eating his food.

Knight stole all the food he ate, including meat and other perishables. Wardens were unsure what he did to preserve those items.

"He doesn't hunt," Hughes said. "He tried fishing a few times but it was too much work."

Beer caps and batteries of all sizes dot the ground outside the tent. There also were a number of larger boat batteries and some the Pine Tree Camp had used to power their electric four-wheelers.

Nearby Knight had stashed under a rock a pair of leather boots, weathered badly from exposure.

Clothes hung for drying on rope stretched between trees immediately outside the tent. Nearby, Knight had erected a makeshift shower well hidden behind a small growth of fir trees.

There were no permanent structures — nothing was nailed down. The dirt was worn in the area, but otherwise there were no permanent reminders of a life lived in the space.

Knight said he spent his days at camp reading and meditating.

"I asked him, 'What kind of books do you read?'" Hughes said. "He said, 'Whatever I can steal.'"

Stranger in a photo

Last fall police released to the media a surveillance photo of a man with aviator glasses and a backpack breaking into a camp in Smithfield.

Knight said he heard about the photo on the radio and figured it was him, police said.

"He assumed we were getting close," Perkins-Vance said.

Hughes showed Knight a copy of that photo, which showed Knight's face clearly. She asked him if he could identify the man pictured in the photo. Knight studied the photo for some time, but was unable to identify himself, Perkins-Vance said.

Knight, who shaves without a mirror, said he has caught only glimpses of his reflection in pools of water.

"He hasn't seen himself in the mirror for well over 20 years," Hughes said. "It's a very unusual situation."

(Continued on page 4)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

Somerset County Sheriff's Department Cpl. Gene Cole, left, helps Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance inventory money recovered from Christopher Knight on Tuesday at the Pine Tree Camp in Rome. Knight, a hermit who lived in the woods since April 1986, was apprehended when he broke into the camp, police claim. He was captured carrying a knapsack and bag of tools. Many of bills date from the 1980s and 1990s, Perkins-Vance said, and were never circulated by Knight.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Pine Tree Camp facility manager Harvey Chesley inspects a door that Christopher Knight alleged broke open in the dining lodge at the Rome camp, on Tuesday. Knight, a hermit who lived in the woods since April 1986, was arrested in after allegedly breaking into the lodge on Thursday, according to Warden Service Sgt. Terry Hughes.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Tools recovered in a bag that Christopher Knight was carrying when he was apprehended at Pine Tree Camp in Rome Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight was arrested at Pine Tree Camp in Rome carrying candy, potato chips, a ball cap, poncho and a wristwatch that were all allegedly stolen from the camp.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Game wardens and state police retrieve global positioning coordinates before hiking to Christopher Knight's camp in Rome Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Game wardens, state police and Somerset County sheriff's deputies hike to Christopher Knight's campsite in Rome Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight's campsite, located in a remote stand of woods in Rome, moments before game wardens, state police and Somerset County sheriff's deputies inspected the camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Game Warden Aaron Cross photographs Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

A surveillance photo taken in 2011 allegedly shows Christopher Knight, a hermit police believe engaged in more than 1,000 burglaries to support his lifestyle.

Contributed photo

click image to enlarge

Game Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes, right, and District Warden Dave Ross inspect Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight's camp on Tuesday in a remote, wooded section of Rome.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

A television found at Christopher Knight's camp on Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

District Game Warden Aaron Cross inspects Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday in a remote, wooded section of Rome.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

District Game Warden Aaron Cross exits Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Coffee cups, lights and a clock hang under a tarp in Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight's 1984 Lawrence High School senior photo, taken from the yearbook.

Contributed photo

 


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)