We had another special-ops-related post for 1100 in mind, but real work (as in “work is a four-letter word. So is cash”) intrudes, so we’d like to give you a glimpse of the rural Maine equivalent of the Japanese soldiers who stayed off the grid in the Philippines and Guam for ridiculous lengths of time.
Not sure who the enemies in this character’s one-man war were, except for the good citizens whose stuff he survived by stealing — for nearly 30 years.
ROME, Maine (AP) — Authorities say a man who lived like a hermit for decades in the woods of central Maine and may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries has been captured.
Police say 47-year-old Christopher Knight was arrested last week while stealing food from a camp in Rome.
Authorities on Tuesday found the campsite where they believed Knight — known as the North Pond Hermit — has lived for 27 years.
That was the news story that flagged us to the event, but the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald reprints a story from the even smaller Kennebec paper that has a few more details of the man that Mainiacs and Maine vacationers knew as the mythical “Hermit at North Pond.” After fleeing to the woods at about age 20 (!), he spent his days “reading books and meditating;” his nights, committing burglaries. He told the game warden who arrested him that the arresting officer was only the second human he’d spoken to since 1986, and he led the warden to his camouflaged camp — with, the former Marine warden noted, excellent fieldcraft and anti-tracking skills. The State Trooper who interviewed him had what Knight says is his first in-depth conversation since going hermit. His health was good, although at Age 47 he was suffering from vision problems (routine presbyopia?) and slow wound-healing made him worry about diabetes. He would gain weight before winter, like a bear, but in his case it was to reduce foraging trips that would leave telltale tracks. The Press-Herald:
In June 2005, the Morning Sentinel published a story about the “hermit of North Pond,” who, it said, “for the last 15 years has been picking his way through dozens of the 300 or so camps around North Pond.”
“It’s been a myth, or legend, that a hermit was responsible,” Maine State Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance told the Kennebec Journal on Tuesday. “That happens to be the case.”
Why did he do it? Even Knight says he doesn’t really know. He had a lifelong fascination with hermits and loved the book, Robinson Crusoe. (Great book, we agree, but not enough to make it a model for our lives, eh).
The Press-Herald’s (republished) story by Craig Crosby is really, really in-depth and goes into great detail about how Knight lived and avoided capture. It also describes how repeated thefts from the same camp, and one ticked-off game warden who was ready to apply high-tech surveillance tools in a mechanical stakeout of crime scene, brought him to justice. Interestingly, Knight expresses shame about his thefts and does not appear to have been evasive with police (cop readers, how often does that happen?) Quite a remarkable case with a lot of lessons bound up in it. Read the Whole Thing™.
PS. Wonder what Knight hunted? He didn’t, he says. He stole everything he ate for nearly 30 years. Kind of admirable and repellent at the same time, innit?
Update 1700R (EST)
Apparently a whole coven of “homeless” Wealth Distribution Morlocks had gone underground, literally, in Kansas City, and lived through one of the 21st Century’s least prosecuted crimes: scrap-metal theft. Of course, the metal wasn’t scrap until these tunneling rodents ripped it off. Unfortunately for KC’s latter-day Freddie the Freeloaders, the authorities have filled in the Tunnels of Mooch Chi.
In our experience, the “homeless” are not, as one-time Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Dukakis touchingly thought, simply the salt of the earth, priced out of the mortgage market. Our fathers called them “bums,” which was rather more accurate. Most of them are mentally ill, substance abusers, and criminals. (Yes, all three, not “one of the above.”) Where’s Arkham Asylum when you need it? Oh, right, In freakin’ comic books. So Kansas City — and probably, your city — does less to protect its citizens from this scourge than a fictional cartoon city whose police are so pathetic that they need some billionaire in homoerotic tights to catch their criminals.