Update on Maine hermit arrested after 27 years' living in the woods

Photo: Reuters

Update: Patrick adds, "Maine crime writer is dubious about the veracity of a great deal of that Maine 'hermit' story."

More of the story has come out about the Maine hermit that David blogged about on Wednesday. When Christopher Knight was 19, he abandoned his plans (documented in his high-school yearbook) to become a "computer technician" and moved to the Maine woods. That was 27 years ago. Since then, he's been living as a hermit in a secret camp supplied by high-end food and camp-gear he burgled from other campsites, cottages, homes, and "Pine Tree Camp, a facility for special needs people." After decades of evading locals, he has finally been arrested and is awaiting trial. One local cottage owner, Dave Proulx, says he experienced "more than a dozen break-ins," he attributes to Knight, and says Knight "was a fussy eater," who "never made off with meat that wasn't in its original packaging," and claims that he once chased Knight to a dock, only to lose Knight in a daring canoe escape.

Authorities filled two pickup trucks on Thursday as they took apart Knight's camp, later displaying what they were calling evidence for local folks to sort through to try to recover their stolen goods. There were several Nintendo Game Boys and a wristwatch, along with shovels, rakes, coolers, cooking gear, a coffee pot and toilet paper.

Authorities said Knight used logs on the ground as a makeshift commode, and at one point attached an antenna to a treetop so he could get reception on a battery-powered TV in his tarp-covered camp.

Christopher Knight: inside the Maine hermit's lair [AP]


  1. As a bespectacled American, I’m surprised he spent the last 27 years, presumably, wearing the same set of eyeglasses.

      1.  I’m more or less getting there..my prescription hasn’t changed since i was in elementary school, i’m 37 now. I wear contacts out of the house, but my glasses are actually from high school!

        1. I wasn’t thinking its because your eyes would change, just that glasses break, frames crack, screws come out, plastic ear pieces rot away, nose pads dry up. They just don’t last that long.

    1. I hear ya, mine can barely go a month before the first scratch.  Those do look like some sucky 80’s glasses, though.  

      What a terrible decade to be stuck wearing glasses.  :(

      1. I’ve had my reading and computer glasses for about five years. How often do you change yours?

        1. The frames I change every 2-3 years.  Normally after about a year they hurt my nose or ears, but most eye insurance plans won’t let me get new frames before 2 years.

  2. In terms of survivalist skills, this guy seems pretty hard-core. Of course he was stealing all his supplies, but winter in Maine is a lot tougher than winter in, say, Tennessee, and 27 years is a long time to go without the services of a doctor or other health professional. Maybe he can get his own Doomsday Preppers-type reality show.

    1.  Also, what’s with the guy in the tent? Did the police decide to Instagram it before arresting him?

  3. “never made off with meat that wasn’t in its original packaging,”

    meat comes with packaging?

    1.  I wonder how many carcasses he made off with, and whether freshness of the kill mattered?

    2. I was amused to read that wanting to eat meat still in the supermarket packaging made Knight “‘a fussy eater”.

      1. What does that make me? I won’t eat pre-packaged meat, only meat from the butcher counter.

        1. I can understand only wanting the freshest meat you can find, and only in quantities that you can consume right away.  

          We have a chest freezer in the garage.  Some kinda fever hits me, in the fall especially, when I need to accelerate the process of putting food away for the winter.  For years every fall, we accepted delivery of a lamb we had ordered in early summer, from a local rancher.  She was vet tech, who took excellent care of her flock, from lambing season through slaughter.  While buying lamb like that directly from the rancher was more expensive than, say, buying in quantity from Costco, I was reasonably confident of the care the animal received and the quality of its (short) life.  

          Then the rancher pulled up stakes and moved to Missouri.

          These days I buy lamb chops from Whole Foods, feeling mildly dissatisfied and suspicious of the purchase.  Once you’ve bought meat directly, it’s hard to accept a source of seemingly less ‘integrity’.  Hope that doesn’t sound too snooty; ’tis a fact.

  4. This guy’s name shouldn’t be “Christopher Knight”, it should be “Lazlo Hollyfeld”.

  5. Another reason why I always tell people who say “Aren’t you afraid of bears?” when I go backpacking that it is the 2 legged animals that worry me the most.  That and the drive to and from the trailhead.

  6. Life has been rough for Peter Brady it seems.   If you had people asking you “Say porkchops and applesauce!” all the time you’d go into hiding too.

    1. I would guess the author is quoting exactly what he wrote in the yearbook, though acknowledging that the meaning of “computer technician” has probably changed considerably since he wrote it.  

  7. I’m not buying it. Did he steal haircuts too? Why would a wilderness recluse bother shaving? Something stinks about this story. I think there’s more going on here. 

    1. I expect that, if he was a hairy mess,  the first thing that the cops did is shave him.

      Otoh, clean shaven is easier to maintain. I visualize a mirror and a disposable razor. Makes sense. Practical.

  8. Meditation, reading, roaming the woods. Sounds like heaven. Modern life is such a distraction machine. 

    I’d like to talk to him about meditation and good books.

    I wonder how he handled the stress of stealing. I mean, it had to be stressful. Morally if nothing else.

    I wonder why he didn’t go to a monastery.

    1. Modern life is such a distraction machine.

      Keep in mind that he stole at least one TV and a bunch of portable gaming systems.

    2. I wonder why he didn’t go to a monastery.

      They’re rather hard to find these days, they tend to require that you be a religious fanatic and they may require you to do hard labor all day every day rather than sit around meditating.

    1.  The part about there being a state named Maine with a lot of isolated wooded areas is a true fact I know from personal experience.

      1. I dunno, sounds made up to me. “Maine”. Like, let’s just take a word and stick an “e” on the end, make it more authentic. They should have called it Ye Olde Maine.

  9. What’s the probability of others living in the woods, away from what we call civilization, living off the land occationally raiding campsites for food and items, not only in Maine, but all over? I would say there are many-others out there.

  10. “There was also an old TV that didn’t work. An antenna for the
    television was 25 to 30 feet up on the top of a tree. Obviously he
    could not climb the tree, she said, but he had cut the tree down,
    attached the antenna to it and then hoisted the tree back up and tied it with rope to another tree.”

    Err, what??

  11. On a sidenote, the user comments at the linked article [Guardian.co.uk] have a completely different tone than user comments at any American newspaper I’ve read. They actually appear to be *discussing* the issue, and no one managed to blame the whole thing on Obama or even David Cameron. Amazing!

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