September 13, 2013

North Pond Hermit to enter work, counseling program

His attorneys say the man who survived 27 years in the Maine woods has an alcohol problem.

By MICHAEL SHEPHERD Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – The man known as the North Pond Hermit will enter a special court that will allow him to get counseling for an alcohol problem, Kennebec County's district attorney said Friday.

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight, also known as the North Pond Hermit

Andy Malloy / Staff Photographer

The Co-Occurring Disorders Court has voted to accept Christopher Knight into the program, where he will work and get counseling.

Until April, Knight lived in the woods in Rome for 27 years without human contact, and stole from camps to survive.

After he enters the court officially on Wednesday, he will live in the community, supervised by court officials. He will be able to work and will get counseling for alcohol issues, said his attorney, Walter McKee.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney stopped short of saying Knight, 47, is an alcoholic.

At the time of his arrest in April, employees of the Pine Tree Camp said Knight often stole certain types of beer, but not others. For example, he would skip Bud Light and Miller Lite, but take Budweiser.

To get into the Co-Occurring Disorders Court, a person accused of crimes must have a documented substance abuse disorder or mental illness, according to a pamphlet on the court. McKee and Maloney agreed to send Knight to the court.

"Alcohol was stolen at several crime scenes and he has identified alcohol as something that was a part of his life," Maloney said.

In August, Knight pleaded not guilty to seven burglaries and six thefts in two counties. He has been in jail on $25,000 bail since his arrest on April 4.

At the time, Maloney and McKee said they were working on an agreement to avoid a trial, which was set for October.

Maloney said in a news release that part of Knight's sentence will be served with "intense community supervision," and completing a sentence in the program typically takes one to three years. If Knight isn't successful, he will get an automatic prison sentence, she said.

Maloney said that because Knight was cut off from human contact for so long, the court would be especially helpful for him, because it is "committed to helping those who are released from prison to reintegrate into society."

In April, Deborah Baker of Norridgewock, who has a camp on North Pond in Mercer, told the Kennebec Journal that she started losing bags of groceries to a burglar in 1993. Food, sleeping bags, books and even cough drops disappeared.

She tracked the behavior of the thief, whom she called "the hungry man." He would come only before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, only on cloudy nights.

In 2002, she caught the thief on camera, but state police couldn't identify him.

On Friday, Baker said she feels better with Knight in custody, but won't dispute the conditions agreed to by Maloney and McKee.

"I'm not a vindictive person," she said. "I trust the court will do what's right for him."

 

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 621-5632 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

 

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