April 20, 2013

Filing adds detail to hermit picture

But police still have no idea why the man opted to live most of his adult live in the Maine woods.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

The infamous North Pond Hermit carried no identification when law enforcement officers stopped him April 4 as he left the Pine Tree Camp dining hall in Rome about 1 a.m., laden with food and tools.

click image to enlarge

Game Warden Aaron Cross leaves Christopher T. Knight’s camp April 9 in Rome. Knight is suspected of at least 1,000 camp burglaries in his nearly 30 years of living in the woods.

Andy Molloy/Morning Sentinel

The suspect, who police said later identified himself as Christopher T. Knight, 47, carried a standard Leatherman tool. His wallet contained $395 in bills, some of them old. In a backpack and a gym bag, he had $425.38 worth of items belonging to the camp.

Those fresh details are among many contained in a new police affidavit filed by Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance when she later sought a judge's approval for a search warrant to seize items from Knight's encampment in the woods near North Pond. Knight is suspected of committing more than 1,000 camp burglaries during his nearly three decades of living in the central Maine woods, and his case has attracted worldwide attention.

Knight initially refused to talk when he was caught, but hours later officers learned more about him, including his claim that he lived a hermit-like existence and had only one brief conversation in the 1990s with a passing hiker.

"I had to talk with the male subject for some time to convince him to provide me with his name," Perkins-Vance wrote in the newly released court document. "The reason why he did not want to provide me with his name was because he was ashamed of his actions and did not want his name to appear in the paper."

Meanwhile, Knight's cousin Kevin Nelson of Pittston said he remembered learning of Knight's disappearance in the 1980s when he was at his grandparents', and he recalled his grandmother's concern.

"She worried to death about him," Nelson said. "She said no one's seen Christopher; no one's heard from him. Grammy really worried abut him tremendously over the years."

A records check by police showed no criminal record for Knight, no warrants and no indication he was a missing person. It also showed he had a valid a driver's license that had expired in December 1987.

Ultimately on the day of his arrest, Knight told Perkins-Vance he had no address and lived mostly in the woods: "He said that he did not have a vehicle, did not get mail, did not file a tax return and did not collect any kind of disability."

He told police he left Albion some 27 years ago for the woods. He said he burglarized large and small camps to get everything he needed to survive, including his clothes. The only thing he had that was not stolen was the pair of eyeglasses he wore.

Knight said he had attended Lawrence High School in Fairfield and went to vocational school for computers.

"He did tell me he worked in this field for a year, and it wasn't that he didn't like it, but realized that computers were constantly changing," Perkins-Vance wrote.

Knight didn't want to talk about his family at all, and he told investigators -- who had been seeking an elusive burglar for decades -- that he had been getting into camps since the 1980s and had had no contact with his family after he left his Albion home around 1986. Police said Knight admitted to repeatedly burglarizing Pine Tree Camp, a nonprofit camp for children and adults with disabilities.

"I later learned that he did not even know the name of the town he lived in," Perkins-Vance wrote, though he knew he was in the Belgrade Lakes area between three ponds -- East Pond, North Pond and Little North Pond.

Knight at first denied he had a campsite, but later that morning he led officers to it.

(Continued on page 2)

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