April 15, 2013

Bail increased for North Pond Hermit

Authorities say it's for his own protection, citing a long-distance marriage proposal and a stranger who tried to post his bail.

By SUSAN M. COVER Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA - Bail for Christopher T. Knight, the North Pond Hermit, was increased to $250,000 on Sunday as two additional charges were filed against him and fear grew that people from across the country want to exploit him, according to the lead state police investigator.

click image to enlarge

Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance carries a bag of Christopher Knight’s clothing Sunday at the Kennebec County jail, where she filed new charges against him.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Christopher Knight

Courtesy Kennebec County Jail

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Overtures to the burglary suspect include a marriage proposal from a woman living out of state. In addition, a "total stranger" tried to post the previous $5,000 bond for Knight on Saturday, a bail commissioner said.

"My job is to ensure he does appear in court," Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance said, "but there's a lot of people out there trying to exploit him."

Knight made international headlines last week when the Kennebec Journal broke the story that after his 27 years of living in the woods -- and allegedly stealing food, cookware and other items from local camp owners to survive -- police finally had captured the North Pond Hermit. He initially told police he had committed more than 1,000 burglaries over nearly three decades.

Perkins-Vance went to the Kennebec County jail on Sunday afternoon to charge Knight with additional counts of burglary and theft. He is now charged with two counts of each crime.

On Saturday evening, a man claiming to be from New York or New Hampshire showed up at the jail and offered to bail him out, said bail commissioner Wayne Michaud, a retired Augusta police lieutenant.

"This guy was very elusive and made Mr. Knight nervous," Michaud said. "A total stranger shows up and says, 'I want to get you out of jail for $5,000,' and there's no plan and it was not disclosed. It was very odd."

Michaud declined to release the person's name and said the man appeared to be acting on someone else's behalf. Lt. Ryan Reardon of the Kennebec County jail also said he could not disclose the name and declined to release a copy of the arrest affidavit for Knight on Sunday evening, saying he needed to get it approved by the district attorney's office first.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said she needs to review the document before it can be released because she wants to make sure it won't compromise the ongoing investigation.

Perkins-Vance, who met with Knight on Sunday when she filed the additional charges, said he told her that he never intended to leave with the stranger who offered to bail him out. He met with him for "curiosity's sake and to work on his social skills," she said.

And the marriage proposal?

"Someone called the jail from somewhere across the country, trying to propose marriage to him," she said.

Overall, Knight, 47, a 1984 graduate of Lawrence High School in Fairfield, seems to be doing well in jail, she said. Despite his stated preference for solitude -- he claimed to have spoken to only one person in his 27 years in the woods -- he is now in with the general jail population, she said.

"He's smiling, pleasant," she said. "He's a very humble man."

Camp owners in the area said that over the years they got to know Knight's thieving habits, such as his desire for big jars of peanut butter and apparent disdain for tuna. He allegedly stole clothes, but not money. Police also found Nintendo Game Boys and jewelry at his encampment.

Maloney said she hopes Knight gets a chance to meet with his court-appointed attorney soon and said while it is unusual for bail to jump so dramatically, this is an unusual case.

"The first concern is he might be a flight risk," she said. "The second concern is the group of people who are interested in posting bail for Mr. Knight who are not from our state and not members of his family. I will remain concerned for Mr. Knight until he has an attorney helping him to navigate what is a new world to him." 

Susan Cover can be contacted at 621-5643 or at:

scover@mainetoday.com

 

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