April 16, 2013

New North Pond Hermit charges stem from Rome clothing theft

Clothes Christopher Knight was wearing when arrested stolen from camp in fall, affidavit claims; initial court hearing set for Tuesday

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — The pair of jeans and a brown leather belt that Christopher Knight, the North Pond Hermit, was wearing when he was arrested recently were among the numerous items he is alleged to have stolen as he lived alone in the woods for the last 27 years.

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Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance carries a bag of Christopher Knight's clothing she seized from him Sunday, at the Kennebec County jail. Perkins-Vance arrested Knight, alleged to have committed more than 1,000 burglaries while living in the woods for 27 years, on new charges. Knight's bail was increased to $250,000, from $5,000.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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Christopher T. Knight

Contributed photo

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Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance's affidavit for new burglary charges against Christopher Knight

Those two items resulted in two additional burglary and theft charges filed against Knight on Sunday by Maine State Police, according to an affidavit filed by Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance.

When Perkins-Vance interviewed Knight on Friday at the Kennebec County jail, he told her he was responsible for taking food, a pair of size 38 men's jeans and a brown leather belt between Sept. 30 and Oct. 8, 2012, from a seasonal residence on Maple Ridge Road in Rome.

"Knight told me he remembered this and that he was responsible," Perkins-Vance says in her affidavit, which authorities released Monday. "He believed these two items were at the jail and he had been wearing them at the time of his arrest."

After Knight was arrested April 4, he initially told police he had committed more than 1,000 burglaries, primarily at area camps, over his nearly three decades of living alone in the woods.

Knight's bail also was increased dramatically Sunday, from $5,000 to $250,000.

Perkins-Vance and District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the bail was increased for two reasons: Knight is considered a flight risk and they were concerned that someone who could have posted the earlier $5,000 bail amount could have taken advantage of him.

An unidentified New York man authorities described as elusive offered to post $5,000 bond for Knight on Saturday.

Maloney said the man told authorities he didn't have a plan for Knight, if he had been able to bail him out, or at least he wouldn't disclose his plan.

Perkins-Vance said Knight, whom she visited Sunday, told her he never intended to leave with the stranger who offered to bail him out. She said someone also has called the jail to try to propose marriage to Knight.

Maloney said those instances suggest Knight, who said he has only spoken to one person in the 27 years he's lived in the woods of Rome, could be exploited.

"Bail was set at $250,000 because Knight is a flight risk, there have been unknown (third) party attempts to bail him or assist in his flight and there is a major concern for Mr. Knight's safety," Perkins-Vance wrote in the affidavit.

Maloney noted the bail amount could change, once Knight has legal representation, or if a family member were to express interest in bailing him out.

"We're concerned about him, until he has an attorney, being released without someone to help him navigate this new world," Maloney said Monday. "Once his attorney is appointed, or if his family wants to speak with me, I'm more than happy to sit down and work out a plan that meets the community's needs and Mr. Knight's needs. It's not the case that once bail is set, it's set forever. Things can change."

A hearing before a judge is scheduled for Knight for this afternoon, at which setting bail will be up to a judge, Maloney said.

Maloney anticipates that an attorney will be appointed for Knight this week, perhaps by today.

Maloney said she has received calls from a number of attorneys who want to represent Knight in the case, which has drawn international attention. However, she said appointing an attorney to represent Knight is up to the court, not her.

Perkins-Vance, in her affidavit, says she questioned Knight about cases investigated by Kennebec County Sheriff's Office, state police or the Somerset County Sheriff's Department from 2008 to 2012. She said Knight "admitted his involvement in numerous cases."

In the Maple Ridge Road theft, a kitchen window had been forced open at a seasonal residence. The estimated total value of the stolen items was $40, according to the affidavit.

Perkins-Vance said she photographed the belt and jeans, which she wrote were indeed size 38, and seized those items from Knight at the jail.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
kedwards@centralmaine.com

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