Maine hermit living in wild for 27 years arrested

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm •  Published: April 10, 2013

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.

During questioning after his arrest, Knight said that the last verbal contact he had with another person was during the 1990s, Vance said.

"He passed somebody on a trail and just exchanged a common greeting of hello and that was the only conversation or human contact he's had since he went into the woods in 1986," Vance said.

The trooper said that the case of the North Pond hermit sometimes seemed a "myth" that might go unsolved and bringing it to a conclusion is "amazing."

"I think it's still sinking in," Vance said. "I don't think I will ever be involved in such an incident or case it this magnitude."

Knight had been charged only with the Pine Tree Camp burglary, in which $238 worth of goods were taken, and was being held at the jail on $5,000 bail on burglary and theft charges.

Knight had attended a high school in Fairfield, about 20 miles away.

Why he decided to disappear in the woods remained a question on Wednesday.