AUGUSTA — Christopher T. Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit, pleaded guilty Monday to 13 crimes of burglary and theft, a small fraction of the 1,000 authorities say he committed in his 27 years of hiding in the Maine woods.

Knight, 47, formerly of Albion, was arrested April 4 as he left Pine Tree Camp in Rome, laden with foodstuffs and tools. He has remained in Kennebec County jail since.

As part of his guilty plea in Kennebec County Superior Court, he was admitted to the Co-Occurring Disorders Court, a special intensive supervision program where he will live and work in the community while reporting weekly to a judge. The court is designed to help those with substance abuse and mental health problems.

If he completes the program, which can take one or more years, he will be sentenced to five years in jail, with all but seven months suspended, followed by three years’ probation, according to Justice Nancy Mills.

The judge said a delay in the start of Monday’s hearing resulted from a miscommunication between the state and the defense over the initial period of jail time. Mills said the state had told victims it would be nine months, but defense attorney Walter McKee said the agreement called for seven months.

Mills ultimately decided it would be seven months.


“I can think of no legitimate criminologic goal to require the defendant to remain incarcerated for another two months,” Mills said. She said the goal of the program is to keep incarceration at a minimum and teach participants ways to succeed.

If Knight doesn’t complete the program, he could be sentenced to a maximum of seven years in prison, Mills said.

Knight walked into a courtroom Monday afternoon with his hands behind his back, clutching several papers. His arms and face looked thinner as he stood and spoke in a deep voice. He had a thick dark beard and a balding head, surrounded by curly dark hair.

Knight, who was not handcuffed, repeated “guilty” 13 times as the judge asked him for his pleas to various felony and misdemeanor charges. His voice was deep and almost gruff the few times he spoke in court.

The story of Knight’s life in the woods of central Maine — including his nighttime raids to gather propane and batteries and his highly camouflaged camp — were first reported by the Kennebec Journal. The story brought him national media attention, plus a video, songs and contributions to repay the property owners.

The seven burglary and six theft charges go back as far as six years and cover two counties.


When Knight was first questioned by Maine State Police Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance, he told her he had not had contact with his family since the mid-1980s. He told her that was about the same time he had last purchased anything. Everything he had — except for his eyeglasses — was stolen, he said.

He also showed them items he had stored in plastic totes in a different area in case he had to retreat from his main campsite, Perkins-Vance wrote in an affidavit filed in court.

When Knight was arrested, he was wearing jeans and a belt reported as stolen in the fall of 2012 by a Rome homeowner Lillie Cogswell.

Reached in Wimberley, Texas, after the hearing, Cogswell said she was concerned about where Knight was going to live.

“There are some critical things that need to happen,” Cogswell said. “What’s to say he’s not going to walk out of jail and disappear again? And how is he going to support himself?” She said he could have learned some sort of trade in prison.

“I would have loved to have seen some very specific parameters that he could not be within five miles of North Pond or Little North Pond. Here in Texas we use those types of conditions, very specific. It might make people feel a little more comfortable. He was able to at least survive in the woods. What are we substituting now? Are we going to give him skills so he’s not going to go back there and try that again?”


Knight has rejected repeated requests to speak to reporters, so the reason he dropped out of society about a year after graduating high school remains a mystery.

Knight declined to address the judge during the hearing.

District Attorney Maeghan Maloney had met with burglary victims and the operators of Pine Tree Camp, which hosts programs for disabled children and adults, in order to recommend a sentence to Mills. She detailed for the judge the evidence the state had to prove Knight committed the crimes, and said he was charged with only those crimes that were reported to police prior April 4 or earlier. She also noted that the statute of limitations prevented the state from charging him with burglaries reported more than six years ago.

Homeowners in the Rome area said they had given up reporting break-ins to police. Some even left notes asking the burglar to leave a shopping list for them, and to leave their other belongings alone.

Maloney said attorneys had discussed with the judge what information would be presented at the public hearing.

After the hearing, McKee said there is no fixed date for Knight’s release from jail, although he would like it sooner rather than later. He said details about Knight’s living arrangements were still being ironed out and that his family will be assisting him. Several of Knight’s family members, including his brother Joel, watched the hearing from a bench at the rear of the courtroom.


More than a dozen members of the media were present as well.

McKee said that Knight doesn’t talk or interact with other people a lot, but that no one anticipates any problems once Knight is released. McKee said money people contributed to a fund for Knight would be used to pay the $1,800 restitution estimated so far, and that McKee intended to contribute some of his own money.

Maloney said the sentence has a “restorative justice” component, and outside the courtroom, Margaret Micholichek of the Restorative Justice Institute of Maine, said she would be present at a meeting between Knight and the victims so he could hear the effect the burglaries had on them.

Maloney said such a meeting could include all those who were victims, not just those named in the charges, as well as some of Knight’s family members, therapists and others.

Both McKee and Maloney said Knight was considered a candidate for the specialty court program since he was stealing items, such as peanut butter to survive, not jewelry. “It’s a very unique case, a very unique sentence, and a very unique person,” McKee said.

After his arrest, Knight led police to his campsite near Little North Pond. The site was full of camping gear, clothes, propane tanks, batteries, sleeping bags, and foodstuffs.


Maine State Police collected all the items and allowed those who had reported burglaries in the Little North Pond, North Pond and East Pond areas to retrieve their items.

While a number of property owners turned up to look at the pile of goods, few people reclaimed any items.

However, this summer, many of the seasonal residents said they felt safer knowing the long-time burglar was behind bars.

The judge said Knight was not going to be released from jail on Monday.

She said the sentence would be imposed at the successful completion of co-occurring court, which would be a year at a minimum. If he fails to complete requirements, it could result in an immediate sentencing.

At the hearing, Mills read Knight conditions listed on his bail contract. She said those conditions are designed to be helpful to him and could be added or subtracted.


• Report to the judge and co-occurring disorders court team on Mondays at Kennebec County Superior Court.

• Answer questions truthfully. “Who will decide what is the truth?” Knight asked. “As a last resort, that would be me,” Mills said.

• Follow the follow treatment plan set up by his providers.

• Comply with pharmacy conditions.

• Stay away from alcohol and illegal drugs and non-prescribed drugs, including K-2, Spice and synthetic cannabinoids. He is subject to random testing and must avoid contact with drug users.

• Avoid criminal activity and tell the team members of any contact with law enforcement.


• Get his case manager’s approval to leave the state.

• Live in a court-approved location and adhere to a 8:30 p.m. – 6 a.m. curfew, subject to bail checks.

• Have no contact with the victims of the crimes charged, including Pine Tree Camp.

• He has to seek a job or enroll in school.

Mills said she was happy to sign the paperwork admitting him to the Co-Occurring Disorders Court.

“Hopefully things can settle down and you can get into a routine,” Mills said. She said that’s how people are successful in the program.

As the hearing concluded, Mills introduced him to the people associated with the court, including clerks, case managers and court officers.

Betty Adams — 621-5631badams@centralmaine.comTwitter: @betadams

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