27-year hermit arrested in thefts

ROME, Maine — A man who lived like a hermit for decades in a makeshift camp in the central Maine woods, who may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries for food and other staples, has been captured, authorities said.

Christopher Knight, 47, was arrested last week when he tripped a surveillance sensor set up by a game warden while stealing food from a youth camp in Rome, state police say in a court affidavit.

Authorities on Tuesday found the campsite where they believed Knight — known as the North Pond Hermit in local lore— has lived for 27 years.

Residents of the town with a year-round population of about 1,000 say they’ve been aware of the hermit for years, often in connection with break-ins that have occurred. Some have spotted him walking along the side of the lake known as Great Pond and others have seen his living quarters, which include a tent covered by tarps suspended between trees, a bed, propane cooking stoves and a battery-run radio.

“Anybody that’s hunted in the woods has seen a pile of rubble but didn’t think anything of it,” Ron Churchill, owner of Bear Spring Camps in Rome, said Wednesday. Employees who maintain his camp’s lakeside cabins have seen the man thought to be the hermit in the past.

Churchill said his business has lost propane containers to thefts, the latest of which were discovered Wednesday.

“I did an inventory this morning and we’re missing two,” Churchill said.

Paul Anderson, a selectman in the town about 20 miles northwest of Augusta, acknowledged local talk about a man living alone in the woods.

“I’ve lived in the town for 32 years and I’ve never, ever met the guy,” said Anderson.

Knight was arrested last Thursday as he left the Pine Tree Camp for children with disabilities with $283 worth of food, state Trooper Diane Vance said in her affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court. Vance said Knight told her he had broken into the camp about 50 times since he began living in the woods in 1986.

An electronic sensor had been set up in the camp by game warden Sgt. Terry Hughes, who had developed an interest in the pattern of burglaries years ago.

Knight was being held at the Kennebec County jail on burglary and theft charges.

More in Local News

Food stuffs for a local chapter of A Simple Gesture at Fitness Evolution, the communal pick-up point, in Arlington on Jan. 12. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
There’s an easier way to donate to food banks

Grab a green bag, fill it gradually with grocery items — and someone will pick it up from your home.

Lake Stevens man shot by deputies reportedly was suicidal

The fatal shooting is the latest incident where someone apparently wanted police to fire.

Man suspected of robbing Rite Aids

Mill Creek police released a sketch Monday evening of the suspect.

Suspect: Marysville church fire ignited by burning shoelaces

The 21-year-old told police it was an accident, but he’s under investigation for second-degree arson.

Police seek witnesses to Marysville hit-and-run

A Seattle man suffered broken bones in the accident.

Tracking device leads police to bank robbery suspect

The man walked into a Wells Fargo around 3:15 Tuesday and told the teller he had a bomb.

Mayor, others break ground on low-barrier housing in Everett

Somers: The complex is expected to save lives and “really shows the heart of this community.”

Volunteers conduct annual count of homeless population

They worked througha standard set of questions to learn why people have ended up where they are.

Former Everett councilman also sued his employer, the county

Ron Gipson says he suffered racial discrimination related to an investigation into sexual harassment.

Most Read