man lived in the woods for 27 years — before being caught stealing food from a campsite last week.And from what he told police, Christopher Knight, 47, is a remarkable person (in addition to being a petty thief who stole from a camp for people with special needs).
“It’s surreal,” Maine State Trooper Diane Vance told reports. “He’s surreal. His campsite is surreal.”
Here are few details from a police press conference, reported by Christopher Cousins of the Bangor Daily News:
- In 1986, not long after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia, Knight decided to vanish.
“He said that he just disappeared one day,” said Vance. “He just decided to take off into the woods. He’s telling us there was no reason for it.”
- His encampment contained a network of ropes holding up tarps, a propane stove, trash barrels, a makeshift landfill, and an overturned plastic bucket where Knight sat all day.
- To conceal his location, he didn’t make fires and didn’t leave the campsite between November and March so he wouldn’t leave tracks in the snow. When he did venture out, always under the cover of darkness. he tried to step on roots, rocks, and stumps so as to not leave footprints.
Maine PoliceFrom “100 feet away you never would have known that a suspect lived there,” Sgt. Terry Hughes Jr. of the Maine Warden Service said. “I was in shock … It was an overwhelming experience. It’s very difficult to articulate.”
- Knight, who said he did not hunt or fish, stockpiled food he stole from nearby camps in the fall and tried to gain weight in order to survive the winter.
- The campsite had no heat besides the stove used for cooking. During the Maine winters — during which temperatures can stay below 10 °F for a week at a time — Knight stayed warm with “lots of sleeping bags.”
- Everything in Knight’s possession, besides a pair of aviators from the 1980s, were items stolen from nearby camps. One of his prized possessions was a small transistor radio with which he listened to a local rock station and conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh.
- Hughes asked him “What do you do all day?” To which Knight replied, “I read books and I meditate.” Hughes then asked, “Well, what types of books do you like to read?” Knight said, “I read whatever books I can steal.”
- Knight’s only verbal contact with another person was in the 1990s when he passed a stranger in the woods, said “Hello,” and kept walking.
- He told police that he’s never been sick or injured and has no health problems that he knows about.
Vance said that Knight, who is being held in jail on burglary charges, is conversing with others but has no interest in reconnecting with family or friends. The officer added that she doesn’t know what Knight will do when he’s released from prison.
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