August 23, 2013

Grand jury brings more indictments in Maine hermit case

A grand jury in Kennebec County adds six more indictments against the North Pond Hermit.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – For the second time this month, the man known as the North Pond Hermit has been indicted on burglary and theft charges.

click image to enlarge

In this May 2013 file photo, Christopher Knight, center, is escorted to Kennebec County Superior Court. Police said that Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit, 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.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

A grand jury in Kennebec County on Thursday handed up six separate indictments against Christopher T. Knight, 47, formerly of Albion. Each charges him with one count of burglary, and five include an additional count of theft.

Earlier this month, Knight was indicted on one burglary and one theft charge by a grand jury in Somerset County.

The charges represent a small portion of the estimated 1,000 or more burglaries Knight told investigators he committed during years living in the woods in the area of North, East and Little North ponds.

The earliest indictment in Kennebec County describes a burglary five years ago. The statute of limitations prevents prosecutors from going back further.

Knight has spent the past four months in the Kennebec County jail. He was arrested April 4 as he left the Pine Tree Camp dining hall in Rome, carrying food and tools.

A judge previously set bail for Knight at $25,000 cash.

That incident accounts for one of the burglary and theft charges; Pine Tree Camp also is listed as the site of two other burglary and theft charges, one on March 13 and the other on April 26, 2012.

The other three indictments in Kennebec County name individual Rome homeowners as victims. The offenses allegedly took place July 14-18, 2008; July 16, 2010, and Sept. 30-Oct. 8, 2012.

Items stolen include food, household supplies, clothing and exterior lighting.

After Knight was arrested, he led officers to a well-camouflaged camp near North Pond, where they found propane tanks, sleeping bags, books, batteries, coolers, food, jewelry, a wallet, camping gear, medical supplies and alcoholic beverages.

The arrest, and Knight's story of life in the woods, captured national and international attention, and provided fodder for at least one documentary.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney, whose district covers both Kennebec and Somerset counties, said Thursday that while she expects the case to end in plea negotiations rather than a trial, the indictments were necessary.

"We needed either to indict him or release him," she said. "This enables the case to be set for a jury trial. I still don't think we're going to have a trial."

"This is really no great surprise and changes little in the case," Knight's attorney, Walter McKee, said Thursday in an email. "A case like this takes time and the DA is under time pressure to bring an indictment. I am still confident we are going to resolve this case in short order."

Three of the burglary charges are class B, which carry maximum prison terms of 10 years. The others are class C, carrying maximum prison terms of five years.

Knight apparently left his family home in Albion around 1986 and disappeared, moving into the woods and avoiding contact with people. When he was arrested, he told investigators the only thing he owned that he had not stolen were glasses he wore.

 

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

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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