Christopher Knight, accused 'Hermit burglar,' arrested after living 27 years in Maine woods

Man says last contact with human in 1990s

A Maine man who had been living as a hermit in the woods of Maine for the last 27 years has been arrested for burglary and theft. 

He is suspected of committing more than 1,000 burglaries over the last 27 years in order to sustain his solitary existence in the wilderness.

Dubbed the North Pond Hermit, Christopher Knight, 47,  was arrested after breaking into the Pine Tree Camp in Rome, Me., and attempting to take meat and other provisions back to his tent in the woods.  The camp was originally created in the 1940s as a retreat for polio patients.

Maine State Police Public Information Officer Stephen McCausland told ABC News that Knight tripped a sophisticated surveillance device provided by the U.S. Border Patrol upon entering the camp and was arrested shortly after by Maine Game Warden Sgt. Terry Hughes.

Knight vanished into the Maine wilderness at age 19, surviving all those years by stealing food, clothing, propane, tarps and other necessities. 

"Everything he owned was stolen except his eyeglasses," said McCausland. 

Knight said that the only human contact he had in his 27 years in the woods was with a hiker in the 1990s who waved at him.

"Our kids talked about him in high school," Ron Churchill, owner of Bear Spring Camps in nearby Oakland, told ABC News. "There was some hermit living over there and they were all scared about it."

Churchill also added that his camp is currently missing two propane tanks.

Knight's campsite consisted of a tent under a tarp and not much else, relying on multiple sleeping bags to keep warm. 

"For Maine winters, that's an incredible survival story," McCausland said. "He had propane heaters at the campsite but never had a campfire because he didn’t want any smoke."

He also fashioned a makeshift shower hidden behind some nearby trees and relied on battery-powered radio as his connection to the rest of the world.

"He listened to Rush Limbaugh," said McCausland.

Authorities say Knight said he had been stealing from local camp sites around Rome, which has a population of about a thousand, about 40 times a year, amounting to over a thousand burglaries over the course of 27 years.

Police said Knight is cooperating fully with authorities and has expressed remorse over the alleged thefts and burglaries. 

It is unclear what drove Knight to shun society and take up a hermetic existence.  Local groups say the North Pond Hermit was something of a legend, eluding apprehension despite being caught on surveillance several times in previous years.

"The local lake association has their annual meetings there. Every year it was a topic of discussion as to which camps were broken into, and investigators have been stymied because he was so elusive," McCausland said.

According to Mindy Janeweny of the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office, Knight was charged with theft and burglary and is being held at the Kennebec County jail. 

His next hearing is on May 28.  He does not currently have an attorney and it is not known at the moment if he has entered a plea in this case.

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