The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 10, 2013

Maine hermit living in wild for 27 years arrested

(Continued)

Since vanishing from his Maine home for no apparent reason and setting up camp when he was about 19, Knight sustained himself on food stolen from dozens of cottages, but his favorite target was the Pine Tree Camp, where game warden Sgt. Terry Hughes, who's been trying to nab Knight for years, set up a surveillance alarm, authorities said.

Knight was caught Tuesday as he left the camp's kitchen freezer with a backpack full of food, they said.

"He used us like his local Walmart," said Harvey Chesley, the camp's facilities manager.

Ron Churchill, owner of Bear Spring Camps in Rome, said employees who maintain his camp's lakeside cabins have seen the man thought to be the hermit in the past. Churchill said his business has lost propane containers to thefts, the latest of which were discovered Wednesday.

"I did an inventory this morning, and we're missing two," Churchill said.

Despite Maine's harsh winters, during which temperatures sometimes struggle to get above 10 degrees for a week at a time, Knight stayed at his encampment and avoided making campfires so he wouldn't be detected, and he used propane only for cooking, Hughes said. To stay warm, he would bundle himself in multiple sleeping bags, authorities said.

When arrested, Knight was clean-shaven and his hair was cut short, in contrast to the iconic hermit with a shaggy beard and long hair. He was still using his aviator-style eyeglasses from the 1980s.

"When we went to the site where he has been living, it only took a few minutes looking around and making observations such as ropes that were imbedded in the trees that had grown around them that he used to hold his tarps up, shoes that were under rocks that had been there for years, there was enough indication to me ... that he had been there for a lot of years," said Hughes.

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