The True Crime Story Of The North Pond Hermit – HistoryInOrbit.com

The True Crime Story Of The North Pond Hermit

August 15, 2018 | Ryan


GQ

Over the course of several decades, something was happening all throughout North Pond, Maine, a small town on the edge of one of the Belgrade Lakes. Residents were used to living nice, quiet lives amongst beautiful scenery, enjoying all of the seasons and feeling safe. But everything started to change in the late ’80s when that peace was disturbed by a man who only came out at night. They had no idea how strange his story actually was…

City Data

They began hearing things happening when it was dark outside, but were never able to identify the source. Every once in a while a figure would emerge but he also remained unidentified for years. This all got worse when their belongings started to disappear, a little at first but then more and more stuff as time went on. When the threat got bigger, the residents forgot how comfortable they once were…

Strange Behavior

The Portland Press Herald

The fact that anyone would choose to lurk around in the middle of the night is unusual enough, but this specific individual’s behavior was so odd that it just added to how scared the threatened residents became. The criminal would show up around houses that were empty, but that didn’t mean neighbors weren’t home to hear rumblings and bumps in the night. He was spotted occasionally but never by who he was stealing from at the time…

The robber didn’t take money or valuables, which is another bizarre element to this terrifying story. It would make more sense for people to come home to find their safes stolen or broken into and their jewelry missing. But instead, they couldn’t find random belongings like reading materials, clothes, food and other handheld devices. This only added to the mystery surrounding him, causing to people imagine who exactly was doing this…

Nicknames and Theories

Bangor Daily News

Residents made up their own origin stories and explanations to try to better understand what was happening to them. They gave this weird person nicknames like “stealthy yeti,” “Mountain Man,” “Hungry Man,” “Maine’s Lock Ness monster,” and most notably, “North Pond Hermit.” While they were scared enough of the idea of someone coming into their homes when they weren’t there, they wondered if something much worse was ever going to happen…

After a while, they all began to take extreme precautions. First, the people of North Pond always made sure that doors and windows were locked. Second, they started adding extra security measures to make sure their houses were secure. Then everyone setup cameras, but things were still disappearing when they weren’t there. Eventually, the police got involved, but would they be able to help?

Police Intervention

AIA Maine

Unfortunately, the cops couldn’t do anything without catching the thief in the act. Despite being notified often of this illegal activity, nothing changed. Reports were filed and the authorities were informed of all the legends and nicknames, but almost three decades went by without any actual solution…

Pine Tree Summer Camp

Bangor Daily News

In early 2013, Pine Tree Summer Camp reported loads of stolen goods, similar to the things that were being taken from people’s homes. Unfortunately, for the criminal, Sergeant Terry Hughes was already looking for him, and he also happened to be managing the camp. Now that the thief was on his turf, he was finally able to do something…

The Search Starts

Fox 31 Denver

Sergeant Hughes had known about this case for a long time, even before he became a police officer. So, as a part of it, he was determined to help solve this mystery. Even though he was responsible for the camp, he used all his free time to figure out how to catch the criminal. While the residents had tried to up their security, Hughes had access to much better equipment…

Better Surveillance

New York Times

Hughes helped to arm the camp with similar security devices as the residents, but his were military-grade. And he had a better idea of what the thief was targeting, so the equipment was placed strategically throughout the premises in all of the places that had been hit. Finally, the people of North Pond would get a look at their hermit…

Caught On Camera

Key Words King

Within weeks of the camp being armed with all the upgraded security measures, the criminal was seen. On April 4, 2013, Hughes was notified at his home via the equipment at Pine Tree. He rushed to the camp, along with a state trooper, Officer Diane Perkins-Vance, and apprehended the suspect, who was nothing like he’d imagined. The man didn’t have identification, but he did have a story…

Christopher Thomas Knight

Kennebec Journal

The officers were shocked at how nice and polite he was. He had a name, but no address, job or ID. Knight told them he’d been living in the woods for decades, starting all the way back in 1986. He was born over 20 years earlier, on December 7, 1965, in Albion, Maine. While he grew up in a happy family, he always liked being alone…

College and Work

Familypedia

He was a brilliant kid, so much so that he graduated from high school early and went right to Sylvania Technical School in Waltham, Mass. to study electronics. But he still didn’t really have any friends. He was only there for nine months, but that was enough to land a good job. Interestingly enough, it was installing home and car alarms, a skill he kept with him for a long time…

Away From It All

Direct Expose

Knight was always a loner. Even as a kid, the middle brother of five siblings, he loved going hunting and camping. As he got older, he learned more and more about how to live without the necessities of civilizations, but he would have to acquire one more normal possession, including a tent and a backpack, before leaving everything else behind…

The Subaru

Cartype

He saved up enough at his job to get a car, but not without also taking out a loan with his brother’s help. Knight still hasn’t paid him back. He used his Subaru to leave town, following only the sun to head south until he ran out of gas, then leave the car and his keys on the dash. This is when Knight disappeared into the woods…

Into The Woods

New England Today

Many dream of a life away from society, but few take it as far as Knight, mainly because of how hard it is to survive in the middle of nowhere. While he was able to adjust to life alone in the woods, using all of the knowledge he acquired as a smart kid with plenty of experience, it was only a matter of time before he realized there was one thing he couldn’t live without…

Hunger Pains

Bangor Daily News

After a few weeks, Knight was starving. He spent a lot of his time setting up sights and foraging for food, but there was only so much he could find. The latter was his only option because he forgot to bring any hunting and fishing supplies, things he could’ve used with his prior expertise. At one point, he ate a dead bird, raw. Somehow he survived but…

A Life Of Crime

Northern Outdoors

He started stealing from gardens but wasn’t able to take enough to stay healthy, so he relocated to a different part of the forest. This was when he came across some cabins, one of which was empty. On a stormy night, he decided to break in and sleep inside, this would be the beginning of a pattern that would continue well into the second half of his life…

The Cabins

Direct Expose

Just because the one he broke into was empty, didn’t mean the owners wouldn’t arrive any minute. After his one night indoors, he knew he couldn’t keeping taking this risk, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to continue to use his skills. He now knew he could slip in and out of people’s homes undetected, but vowed to never sleep inside again…

The Right Spot

Trazee Travel

With this new pledge to remain outside forever, Knight had to make sure he ended up in the perfect spot. A lot of people loved to camp in these woods, and he had to find a place where he’d never run into them. He tried a riverbank, but it was too vulnerable, so he went even deeper into the forest looking for a place no normal person would try to get to…

His New Home

The Guardian

He finally found an area that was hidden by heavy overgrowth and big boulders, with barely any light even coming through the trees. It was hard enough for him to get to, let alone someone without his experience or desire to distance themselves from the rest of the world. He picked a part of the place with a hidden passage and set up camp, but then…

Hidden Away

The Portland Press Herald

It wasn’t easy to get in and out of his new territory, but that was exactly the point. As Knight got more and more skilled in regard to surviving in the wilderness, his home became better equipped with things like water-absorbing-magazine floors that kept the place dry and made sure he wouldn’t die of thirst. But even with these additional measure, he still needed…

Desperate For Food

GQ

He had also learned how to come and go undetected, even in the winter when snow presented the risk of footprints leading to and from his secret spot. As he got hungrier, he would use these skills, along with the ones he learned at his last job installing security alarms on homes just like the ones surrounding his new home, to solve his hunger crisis for good…

Criminal Intent

North Pond Vacation Home

Knight was a nice, polite, intelligent man who certainly meant no harm to anyone, but his desire to live independently away from the rest of world forced him into a life of crime. He began studying his surroundings, specifically the cabins and lake homes close enough to where he lived, and took note of when people came and went. After a while, he finally…

One More Thing

Maine Summer Camps

The final step in his precautions saw him messing with the houses’ security systems, just to make sure he could get around them before he actually tried to break in. Once he was positive he could get away with his crimes, he began burglarizing. Knight started small, only taking little things he desperately needed that people wouldn’t even notice were gone, and always when they were away…

Without A Trace

Streetrodder

Because North Pond was primarily a vacation destination, he knew to never attempt any robberies during the weekend when visitors populated the town and stayed in the cabins and homes. His raids always took place in the dark of night throughout the week. Their schedules also helped to hide the fact that items were missing, because how could they remember what they did with little things weeks before…

Additional Measures

The Portland Press Herald

Knight would do everything he could to remain undetected. Sometimes he would come across spare keys and take them with him so that he could go in and out without having to break in every time. Occasionally, he would just borrow certain items and return them in the exact same shape they were in before. One time he even took something that was much bigger than just a simple hand held device…

The Canoe

BSTG

At one point, Knight even borrowed a canoe that he used to get around the entire area, saving the time and energy it took to hike everywhere with the additional steps of making sure he always covered his tracks. When he returned it, he made it look like it had just been swept away by the current so that the owners wouldn’t suspect that a person was responsible…

His Diet

Alchetron

He had always been a smart guy, and this definitely allowed him to pull off these crimes for 27 years. He developed helpful habits like knowing what to take and what to leave. Knight lived off snacks, especially things that could last him a long time and not go bad outside. He also had a taste for sugar, from candy to soda. But this was just a part of his new life…

His Home

Publico

Knight would also take tarps, blankets and outerwear to stay warm and better equip his living quarters. And he not only used the aforementioned magazines to absorb water and stay dry, he would also take books to read and keep himself entertained. Days turned into months turned into years turned into decades and he got used to this kind of existence, but it would only last for so long…

His Raids

Fave Thing

He knew how to deal with most security systems and used his knowledge to avoid breaking windows or locks. Knight was also very respectful of people’s things, and not just because he didn’t want to get caught. He knew that without their stuff he couldn’t survive, so he handled everything with care. But even with these extra precautions, people still started to realize someone was coming into their homes…

Clues

The Portland Press Herald

Beyond his precision, Knight was still a human being, and there was only so much he could do to hide the fact that he was breaking in and taking things. Residents started to notice stuff was missing and occasionally find small markings and evidence of an intruder. Despite the discipline, people caught on and started to get scared. Soon the cops got involved…

Red Handed

The Portland Press Herald

After his capture at the camp, the police were led to his hideout and couldn’t believe what they discovered. Following their investigation, they determined that Knight committed an estimated 1,000 burglaries. Many believe this makes him responsible for the biggest case of this type of crime in the state’s history. And the illegal activity was just a part of what makes his story of survival so unbelievable…

Spring and Summer

Worldwide Elevation Finder

Maine’s springs and summers are beautiful, especially to someone living outside in the middle of nowhere. The warmer months also made it easier to remain hidden, without having to worry about covering his tracks as much. Knight took advantage of the seasons that allowed him to live a more relaxed life. But eventually, fall and winter would come, presenting him with challenges that threatened his health and worse…

Surviving The Elements

Gray Ghost Camps

It’s hard enough for people with all the proper precautions to survive in freezing temperatures during the day, let alone overnight for long periods of time. Knight would try to bundle up and go to bed around 7:30pm so he could wake up at 2am. He couldn’t start fires because he would get caught, so he forced his body to adapt to the cold, which meant dealing with occasional frostbite…

Over Time

Hora 7

The first few years were brutal, adjusting to hunger and illness while staying strong and learning how to live. Once he figured out his routine, decades went by and he seemed to be totally okay with the sacrifices he had to make to remain independent away from the rest of the world. Getting arrested was his worst case scenario. So what happened to Knight?

The Trial

Longreads

Following his arrest, Knight went to court and faced the consequences of his actions. In October of 2013, his trial took place at Kennebec County Superior Court. Knight pled guilty to 13 counts of theft and burglary. He was charged with seven months in jail, and in order to avoid further imprisonment he had to get a job and have weekly meetings with the judge…

Judge Mills

Kennebec Journal

The judge also sentenced him to three years of probation, which meant staying sober, and ordered him to pay $1,500 in restitution and attend a mental health program. She definitely took it easy on him, probably due to how nice and polite he was all throughout his arrest and subsequent detention. Judge Mills truly believed he wouldn’t return to a life of crime. But was she right?

Back To Reality

The Portland Press Herald

Knight agreed to all of his punishments and made sure to follow every rule. He stayed sober, attended his program and meetings, and got a job. And it wasn’t just any job. Knight was finally able to reconnect with his family, who were very happy to see him, and it was actually his brother who provided him with employment opportunities…

While He Was Gone

Kennebec Journal

His family said that despite being gone for 27 long years, they always believed he was still alive. Knight’s parents never even reported him missing. They assumed that he didn’t want to be found and if he ever did he’d come back when he was ready. While that’s not exactly how it worked out, everyone was just relieved to find out they were right and that he was ok…

The Stranger In The Woods

Penguin Random House

Michael Finkel, an American journalist, wrote and released a book about Knight’s life. To do his research, Finkel visited Knight in jail for nine one-hour sessions. In the book, Knight revealed he only said one word to another person over 27 years and that he wasn’t proud of his crimes. Other than greeting a random hiker with a quick, “hi,” he was alone. And he liked it…

Freedom

The New York Times

Knight didn’t even have a mirror and would only see his own reflection occasionally in windows or bodies of water. He truly loved his freedom and this made everything he did to maintain his independence totally worth it, even when it involved breaking the law. He definitely lived up to all of his nicknames and the tales people told about him…

The North Pond Hermit

Maine Vacations

Residents of North Pond and beyond still talk about Christopher Thomas Knight, remembering how scary it was when they had no idea who was breaking into their homes. His story has gained international attention and many compare him to people like Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles de Foucauld, and Thomas Merton. How long do you think you could survive under similar circumstances?

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About the Author:
Ryan is a rabid consumer of content, from movies and television to podcasts and news. He lives in a hole underground with nothing but a computer and a strong internet connection. Ryan spends all of his waking moments online searching for the most interesting stories to share with the rest of the world.