How Maine Hermit Survived in Woods for 27 Years

Not by building fires or fishing, apparently

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 11, 2013 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – When news broke yesterday of Christopher Knight's arrest in Maine, two details jumped out as pretty wild: One, he's accused of committing more than one thousand burglaries—and upon his arrest he told police he has encountered just one human in a span of 27 years. The Kennebec Journal digs into how those two facts came to be, and presents a picture of a man who wasn't the woodsman you might expect: He didn't hunt, fish, forage for food, or grow it. In fact, he says he never even built a fire, fearing the smoke would give him away. (He did, however, have a propane stove.)

A former member of Maine's Warden Service says these choices were conscious ones: "He had a very well-thought-out plan, how to survive in extreme conditions, and I think it's extraordinary." In lieu of fires, he likely stayed warm by using a number of sleeping bags, elevated off the ground. Those sleeping bags, along with the propane stove and everything else in his possession, with the exception of his glasses, were stolen from area camps, reports the Bangor Daily News. His camp featured a makeshift landfill, an overturned bucket he used as a chair, and a transistor radio that he used to listen to a rock station and Rush Limbaugh. He didn't venture out from the site between November and March, fearing his footprints in the snow would give away his location; when he did leave, he made an effort to walk on roots and rocks to mask his footsteps.

This photo released Wednesday, April 10, 2013 shows a camp in a remote, section of Rome, Maine, where authorities believe Christopher Knight lived like a hermit for decades.   (AP Photo/Maine Department of Public Safety)
This April 2013 booking photo released by the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office in Augusta, Maine, shows Christopher Knight, arrested Thursday, April 4, 2013.   (AP Photo/Kennebec County Sheriff's Office)
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