April 17, 2013

Restitution fund set up to pay Hermit's victims

Christopher Knight "very much wants to make things right," his lawyer says.

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

The lawyer for the man known as the North Pond Hermit has set up an account for donations to pay restitution to the victims he's accused of burglarizing.

click image to enlarge

Christopher Knight, left, and attorney Walter McKee appear during a court hearing on new burglary and theft charges on Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta. Knight and McKee were appearing on video connection from the nearby Kennebec County jail.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Related headlines

Police say Christopher T. Knight, 47, lived a solitary existence in the woods of central Maine for the past 27 years and committed more than 1,000 burglaries to steal food, supplies and other items.

Knight's lawyer, Walter McKee, said Wednesday that his client wanted to set up a restitution account because "Chris very much wants to make things right."

"Given the extraordinary interest in helping Chris, we have decided to open an account today to help Chris pay what will be the substantial restitution he will owe for what he took," McKee said via email.

News of the fund drew a mixed response from Lillie Cogswell of Wimberley, Texas, whose camp on Little North Pond was burglarized last fall and whose husband's new clothing was stolen.

"I don't know about other people paying off his debt," Cogswell said Wednesday. "The person responsible should feel the consequences and make amends."

She said restitution is less important for her family.

"For us, the monetary issue is not an overriding issue," Cogswell said. "We just did want there to be some consequences for his behavior. The bigger part was all of us feeling uncomfortable and not feeling safe and feeling like someone was watching us in our homes."

Knight's story has drawn worldwide media attention and even unsolicited offers to pay his bail and to marry him. He was arrested April 4 while leaving the Pine Tree Camp in Rome carrying several hundred dollars worth of food, police said.

Investigators say Knight has admitted to committing more than 1,000 burglaries of various camps in the North Pond, Little North Pond and East Pond area during his nearly three decades of living in the woods.

McKee said donations to the restitution account can be sent by check or money order payable to: McKee Billings, LLC, PA, Christopher T. Knight Escrow.

"Any and all monies will be used exclusively for restitution payments to victims," McKee said. "If by chance there are any monies leftover, they will be placed in a trust account for (Knight's) living expenses after he is released from jail. None of these monies will be used for any other purpose."

Cogswell suggested community service for Knight as part of a sentence.

"For someone who has been totally out of the community, that might be a good avenue," she said, "or else he'll become a homeless individual in one of the cities in Maine."

She said the Pine Tree Camp for disabled adults and children, which was burglarized many times, should get repaid for its losses.

"They're taking from a very good program that provides for people who cannot provide for themselves," she said.

Pine Tree Camp officials, who talked with Knight shortly after he was arrested by Maine Warden Service Sgt. Terry Hughes and Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance, have said that Knight apologized to them for stealing items from the camp.

Harvey Chesley, facilities manager at the camp, has said that more than $100,000 worth of food, flashlights, batteries -- including vehicle batteries -- and other items were stolen from the camp over the years.

Knight is being held in the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $25,000 bail on two charges each of burglary and theft.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Tuesday that she expects Knight will be charged in connection with 15 to 20 burglaries that were reported to police in recent years.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at KJonline.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)