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Christopher Knight: The World-Famous North Pond Hermit

Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Christopher Knight

Christopher Knight

A 20-year-old Christopher Knight left his Massachusetts home in 1986. He drove to the woods in Maine and disappeared. For the next 27 years, he called a tent his home in an impenetrable forest. Knight spent decades living on food and other things he had stolen from nearby cabins. He never had a conversation with another person for decades. Knight had his first conversation after his arrest in 2013 for breaking into a closed summer camp that served special needs children.

Christopher Knight at age 19

Christopher Knight at age 19

Early Years

Christopher Thomas Knight was born on December 7, 1965. His friends and family remember him as always being a loner. This began when he was young. Knight acknowledged to everyone he had good parents. He always found people mysterious and struggled to relate to anyone on more than a basic level. Knight stayed to himself most of the time. He was an outstanding student during his high school years. Knight's grades were so good, he was able to graduate early. Once he was out of high school, Knight attended a technical school in Waltham, MA. There he studied electronics. It was a huge change from his life in Maine. Knight still struggled to make friends. Once he completed the nine-month course, Knight got a good job installing alarms in homes and vehicles. He took out a car loan with the help of his brother. Knight purchased a Subaru that he considered to be hard-earned.

Into The Woods

Over time, Knight grew increasingly dissatisfied with his job. He quit and decided to take his new car on a road trip south to Florida. When he was driving back, Knight drove through Albion, his childhood home in Maine. It is a small place located northeast of Augusta. He drove north from there until he almost ran out of gas on a dirt road. Knight then decided to leave his vehicle and go into the woods. He left his keys inside his Subaru. At this time, Knight had no map of the area and no planned destination. He carried a tent, but Knight had never before spent the night in one.

Choosing A Location

Knight just drifted in the woods and the surrounding areas. He walked south for weeks. When Knight was hungry, he would steal food from any gardens he passed. Eventually, he was able to discover a location he considered to be the ideal site. It was in the middle of a dense forest and shielded by boulders. On either side of this location was a pond. It was also close to dozens of local summer cabins. Knight didn't realize it, but he was approximately 30 miles from his parent's home.

Surviving In The Woods

The winters in Main can be bitterly cold. The temperatures there can go as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter, Knight would wake up when it was the coldest part of the night. He would then begin pacing around his camp to stay warm. Knight wanted to avoid suspicion in case he was spotted. In order to accomplish this, he would regularly have cold sponge baths. Knight would also regularly shave and cut his hair in case someone saw him.

Christopher Knight's camp

Christopher Knight's camp

Avoiding Detection

Knight wanted to do everything possible to keep the location of his camp hidden from the rest of the world. He didn't build smoky fires. Knight would use a propane camp stove for melting snow as well as drinking and cooking. He would transport stolen propane cylinders in canoes he took from empty camps. Knight would paddle along the shoreline in the early hours so his silhouette would not be seen on open water. Upon returning a canoe, he would sprinkle pine needles on them so it appeared they had not been moved. In the summer and fall, he would stockpile supplies. This would make it possible for him to stay in his camp starting in November until March. This way he would not reveal his location by leaving footprints on the snow-covered ground.

Thefts

Knight was able to take advantage of his training and experience with alarms. He knew how to disable surveillance cameras. Knight would watch some homes for days to learn the habits of their owners. He would only steal things on weeknights. This is the time when cabins were most often unoccupied. Once he was inside a cabin, Knight would try to locate a spare key. He would then hide the spare key somewhere outside but near the cabin for future break-ins. Knight would only take a few items. He never tried to take significant amounts of property from any one cabin. Knight often chose items when there was more than one of them or something that seemed old or about to be discarded.

Items stolen by Christopher Knight

Items stolen by Christopher Knight

Stolen Items

A lot of food, a twin-size mattress, radio, handheld video games as well as a miniature Panasonic black-and-white television were some of the items he stole. He would often take batteries, toiletries as well as shoes and clothes. Knight also stole a car battery and used it to run the stolen black-and-white television.

Myth

The actions of Knight were so stealthy, and his stolen items so minor, during the decades he was active, many residents believed the idea of a North Pond hermit was a myth. He spent decades in the same area and didn't know the name of the pond until after he had been arrested. Knight didn't even know the name of the nearest town. He said he considered the moon to be the minute hand of his clock, and the seasons were its hour hand.

Christopher Knight after arrest

Christopher Knight after arrest

Arrest

On April 4, 2013, Christopher Knight was arrested by game warden Sergeant Terry Hughes. At the time of his arrest, Knight had potato chips, marshmallows, and more. He had stolen them from the commissary of a camp for kids with special needs. Knight also had $395 in cash on him. Most of it was singles. He wanted to have it in case of an emergency. Knight never spent any of the dollars. Some of them were so old, they were moldy.

Sentence

When he appeared before a judge after his arrest on October 28, 2013, Christopher Knight was sentenced to spend seven months in jail. At the time, he had served all but a week during the time he was in jail awaiting sentencing. Knight was required to pay $2,000 in restitution to the victims of his crimes. He completed a court program called Co-Occurring Disorders. It was made to help individuals with mental health disorders or substance abuse problems. He then also had to complete three years of probation.

Book by Michael Finkel

Book by Michael Finkel

Book

Michael Finkel is a journalist who wrote a book about Christopher Knight. It is called The Stranger In The Woods. It was published in March 2017. Finkel developed a relationship with Knight by writing to the former hermit when he was in prison. He was eventually able to visit Maine and arrive at the prison unannounced. Knight came into a room with a glass partition. After this, a series of fascinating interviews took place.

Nobody knows why Christopher Knight spent 27 years of his life secluded in the woods. During this time, he only spoke once. In the 1990s, a hiker walked near Knight's camp. He said hello to the hiker who barely acknowledged Knight was there. After being captured, he became a worldwide cult hero. When he got out of jail, Christopher Knight got a job. Those who know him say he now lives in an apartment and leads a quiet life. He continues to value his privacy above all else.

Sources

News Center Maine

BBC

GQ Magazine

CentralMaine.com


© 2020 Readmikenow

Comments

Readmikenow (author) on August 14, 2020:

Nathan, thanks. I agree, he is a unique individual.

Nathan Bernardo from California, United States of America on August 13, 2020:

Fascinating story, what an unusual guy.

Readmikenow (author) on August 13, 2020:

Liz, thanks. I agree. He has become a bit of a folk hero.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 13, 2020:

I hadn't heard this story before. This is a well-researched and fascinating article. In the modern world, it's so hard to completely get away from everyone, but to do this for so long, all be it involving some criminal activity, is quite an achievement.

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