May 23, 2013

Case delayed for North Pond Hermit

A court-ordered mental health evaluation will be done before Christopher Knight reappears in court.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – Christopher Knight, the man known as the North Pond Hermit, will not be in Kennebec County Superior Court next week as scheduled on charges of burglarizing Pine Tree Camp in Rome.

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight, also known as the North Pond Hermit

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District Game Warden Aaron Cross exits Christopher Knight's camp Tuesday April 9, 2013 in a remote, wooded section of Rome after police inspected the site where Knight is believed to have lived since the 1990s. Police say Knight, who disappeared into the woods near Belgrade in 1986, was a hermit who committed hundreds of burglaries to sustain himself.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

The case against Knight, 47, suspected of more than 1,000 burglaries and thefts over the past 27 years, was set to be presented to the grand jury next week, but District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Wednesday that his case will be put off until a mental health evaluation is complete.

Knight has said he lived alone in the woods in the Rome and Smithfield area for nearly three decades, stealing everything he needed to survive from private camps and from Pine Tree Camp, which serves disabled children and adults.

Maloney and Kinight's attorney Walter McKee both said Wednesday that they agreed on the postponement until the evaluation, which has yet to be scheduled, has been done.

"Normally, we would always indict if someone's in custody," Maloney said.

Knight is being held in Kennebec County jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail that carries a number of special conditions, so he is likely to remain there.

An evaluation of Knight by the State Forensic Service was ordered earlier this month by Justice Michaela Murphy.

McKee agreed to waive speedy trial concerns and wanted to meet with the prosecutor to discuss Knight's case once Knight's evaluation is complete. "Clearly the evaluation will give all sides the information they need to best assess the right resolution of this case," he said via email. Knight told investigators he left his Albion home around 1986 and lived alone in the woods since then.

He was arrested April 4 as he was leaving the dining hall at Pine Tree Camp, which was closed for the season, with a backpack and duffel bag laden with frozen food and tools.

Knight's story about living alone in the woods for so long attracted national attention as well as sympathy for the man the media dubbed the North Pond Hermit.

He'd been rumored to exist for years, and camp owners along North, Little North and East ponds have said they will be much more comfortable on their property this year knowing the elusive hermit is in custody.

So far, Knight is charged with two burglaries and two thefts at the Pine Tree Camp, as well as a break-in last fall at a private camp, also in Rome.

 

Betty Adams can be contacted 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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