May 2, 2013

North Pond Hermit victims can reclaim property

A meeting Saturday in Skowhegan will include a chance to see the items seized from his campsite.

By BETTY ADAMS Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA – People who think they lost property to the North Pond hermit will have a chance to identify and reclaim it Saturday.

click image to enlarge

Staff photo by Andy Molloy 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 believe Knight, who went into the woods near Belgrade in 1986, was a hermit who committed hundreds of burglaries to sustain himself.

The opportunity to retrieve items seized from the campsite of Christopher T. Knight will be part of a public meeting arranged by Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Maloney's office is prosecuting Knight in connection with reported burglaries and thefts in the past six years.

Knight is suspected of committing more than 1,000 burglaries over the past 27 years, while he lived in the woods of central Maine.

Saturday's meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Troop C state police barracks, at 263 West Front St. in Skowhegan.

"There will be an opportunity to ask questions, make comments, and see the items seized from Mr. Knight's tent-site in order to claim any that belong to you," Maloney wrote to camp owners.

She said she sent the letter to people who contacted her in response to the nationwide publicity about Knight's arrest on April 4 as he left the Pine Tree Camp in Rome, his backpack and a gym bag loaded with items from the camp's freezer and kitchen, as well as tools.

The stolen property was valued at $425.38, according to court documents.

At the time, Knight told state police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance and Sgt. Terry Hughes of the Maine Warden Service that he had lived alone in the woods for about 27 years, speaking only once to another person, when he had a brief encounter with a passing hiker in the 1990s.

Knight's tale brought sympathy from some people, including some victims, but others viewed him as a criminal who preyed on their property. He has inspired songs and is the topic of a filmmaking project.

Knight later led investigators to his campsite near Little North Pond. The items police seized there are being kept in an evidence locker at the Skowhegan barracks, Maloney said.

Perkins-Vance will be at Saturday's meeting, Maloney said. Maloney said she contacted camp owners through the various homeowner and road associations in that area.

Camp owners in the Belgrade Lakes area, including North Pond, Little North Pond and East Pond, have talked of repeated break-ins and thefts of food, propane tanks, sleeping bags and other items.

They also have spoken of feeling like they were being watched, since the break-ins occurred just after they had stocked their camps.

Knight told police that he left his home around 1986 and survived in the woods by stealing things from homes and the Pine Tree Camp, a nonprofit camp for disabled children and adults.

Over the years, some home- owners and investigators caught images of the thief, using surveillance cameras, but no suspect was identified until this year.

Items taken from the area of the tent site include medical supplies, jewelry, a wallet, cooking supplies, clothes, boots, electronics, flashlights, a backpack, magazines, books, adult entertainment, food, tents, camping gear, coolers, propane tanks, alcoholic beverages, clothes and camping gear.

Knight remains in the Kennebec County jail, charged with two counts each of burglary and theft at the Pine Tree camp and at a camp in Rome. The charges are pending in Kennebec County Superior Court.

 

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

badams@centralmaine.com

 

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