From behind bars, pal tells Colton Harris-Moore to keep running

CAMANO ISLAND — The boy burglars of Camano Island shared a dream.

They’d amass such a fortune they would toss money in the air and let the bills rain down.

Colton Harris-Moore met Harley Davidson Ironwing about five years ago.

Today, Harris-Moore, 18, is a fugitive wanted for crimes in Washington, Idaho and Canada. Police suspect he’s stolen planes, boats and luxury cars, and broken into dozens of homes and businesses.

Ironwing’s link to Harris-Moore resurfaced after the case made international headlines. He is the teenager’s only known accomplice, although they haven’t spoken in two years.

Ironwing, 20, is back behind bars. He is accused of shoplifting and escape while serving a prison sentence for theft.

He’s currently at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton and is facing at least another five months in prison, officials said.

Ironwing agreed to talk about his friendship with Harris-Moore, and how he taught the younger boy how to prowl and quickly find valuable jewelry and electronics, items that could be converted to cash.

“He loves his money like I do,” Ironwing said while he was at the Snohomish County Jail last month. “He wants the same thing, just to have money, to sit on a pile of cash, to throw it up in the air and have it shower down.”

During his interview, Ironwing more than once asked to pass along this message to his friend: “Stay out until help can come to him.”

Pressed for what he meant, Ironwing would only say, “He’ll know.”

He urged Harris-Moore never to give himself up.

“He is good. What’s he’s doing is stupid right now,” Ironwing said. “He needs to quit taking pictures of himself.”

One iconic image from the case is a July 2008 photo Harris-Moore snapped of himself using a stolen digital camera. The camera was left behind in a Mercedes that was stolen from his mother’s neighbor. The photo shows Harris-Moore in the woods, headphones plugged into his ears, wearing a polo shirt featuring the Mercedes logo.

Ironwing believes such photos are Harris-Moore’s trademark, a calling card left at all his crime scenes.

“It’s not his calling card,” Island County sheriff’s detective Ed Wallace said. “He is leaving nothing like that behind.”

Wallace also is familiar with Ironwing, who was convicted of his first felony when he was 14. “I would say that any information he provides would be suspect,” Wallace said.

Since September when news broke that Harris-Moore allegedly has started stealing airplanes, the elusive teen gained attention from news networks and on the Web.

T-shirts were made, featuring Moore’s self-portrait. A Facebook fan page has attracted nearly 8,000 people.

Ironwing’s role in the case, and his unusual name, have contributed to the Internet buzz.

Ironwing said he was given his name by his adopted mother when he was 6. She added the middle name after the famous American motorcycle maker, and gave him her last name.

“She just thought it would be cool,” Ironwing said. “It gets annoying at times. It’s a unique name.”

Still, “I’d prefer not to be on the news,” he said.

Harris-Moore, on the other hand, likely thrives on the publicity, Ironwing said.

“Colton has ambition. He’s smart, and he loves what he’s doing,” he said.

Ironwing said he would never snitch on his friend or violate the thieves’ code.

He’s not cooperated with Snohomish County sheriff’s detectives or investigators with the state Department of Corrections.

“They think I’m full of (expletive) because I won’t tell them anything,” Ironwing said. “They got awfully angry at me.”

Snohomish County sheriff’s spokeswoman Rebecca Hover said detectives recently did try to talk with Ironwing.

“He had absolutely no useful information,” she said.

Ironwing’s solid frame barely fills his jail uniform. He’s 5-foot-2 but says he packs a mean punch.

Everyone in his hometown knows him as the “Stanwood Burglar,” he said.

“I’d break into anywhere I could get money,” he said.

His reputation is likely what drew Harris-Moore to him, Ironwing said.

“Back then I was a troublemaker,” Ironwing said. “He had to come to me. Everyone knows I’m a criminal.”

The two would burglarize so many homes each night, “You would be amazed,” Ironwing said.

When the burglars were at their peak in early 2007 a typical night of crime would begin with a phone call, Ironwing said.

The 6-foot-5-inch Harris-Moore would summon the older boy. Ironwing would hop a bus to Camano Island from Stanwood or Everett, wherever he was living at the time. They’d meet at a rural bus stop, then begin breaking into homes on the island.

In the morning, Ironwing said he’d hop another bus for home, his pockets filled with swag.

Island County sheriff’s deputies brought an end to the break-ins by handing out wanted posters featuring each boy’s mug. Harris-Moore was arrested and two days later Ironwing turned himself in.

Harris-Moore was sentenced to three years behind bars. He escaped from a group home for juvenile offenders in Renton in April 2008.

Ironwing pleaded guilty in March 2007 to first-degree criminal trespassing and second-degree taking a motor vehicle without permission. He was ordered to serve nearly a year in juvenile detention.

Not long after his release, Ironwing was arrested for breaking into a Stanwood church safe during a Sunday prayer service. He was sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

At the end of September, Ironwing was transferred to a work release program in Seattle, officials said. On Oct. 20, Ironwing left for a job interview. He didn’t come back.

Less than a week later Ironwing was caught shoplifting at the Everett Mall.

“Maybe Colt can teach him how to escape and not get caught,” said Pam Kohler, Harris-Moore’s mother. “A favor for a favor.”

Ironwing said he’s looking to change his ways.

“I basically just blew away my whole childhood,” he said. “I’m 20-years-old now. I got to grow up.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

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