The ‘North Pond Hermit:’ the Man That Lived Without Human Contact for 28 Years

August 25, 2014

For nearly thirty years, he was only a legend in small towns – a ghost that slunk into homes at night and surviving on whatever food he could steal without being noticed by scared residents. Such a phantom couldn’t possibly live in the nearby forest.

Well, that phantom was finally arrested for stealing last year, and he’s being called the last true hermit.

When he was captured, the hermit was out for a late night raid at the Pine Trees Summer Camp near North Pond in central Maine. While searching through the kitchen for food, he unknowingly set off an alarm that led to his arrest at the hands of Sergeant Terry Hughes, a warden that had become obsessed with capturing the man, known as the North Pond Hermit in the surrounding community.

Hughes, with the help of some Maine state police, apprehended the burglar and asked him his name. He didn’t say a word, and he had no identification on him. He admitted to the state trooper, Diane Perkins-Vance, saying in a broken voice that he was ashamed to ask questions.

His name, the trooper learned, was Christopher Thomas Knight. He was born in 1965, had no address, and had no vehicle. He lived in the woods, alone. He had gone to live in the woods when he was only 20 years old — now, he was 47.

His way of life is truly remarkable. He never lit a fire, as he was afraid of being detected, and moved only at night, sleeping in a tent during the day. When he was captured, he had no idea if his parents were alive, and had lived without money, car, and phone — he’d never even heard anything of the internet. He admitted to committing about 40 break-ins a year to keep himself well-fed.

Before that night — April 4 of last year — Knight had only said one word to another human being in the last 27 years. He said “hi” to a passing hiker.

The man had long been a legend in the nearby town of North Pond, where residents had suffered break-ins for so long. But most claim they didn’t really believe that such a thing could be true — after all, what man could survive in the woods through the freezing cold of a Northeast winter?

Knight, somehow, managed it. Unfortunately, he didn’t keep a journal or snap any photos to document his long time alone. He had pledged, after all, to live his entire life in secret after he went to the forest as a young man, just out of high school.

While, many have tried to contact him since to hear his story, he hasn’t been saying much. A writer over at GQ managed to get a short response letter from Knight, staying in prison, the two of them bonding over a shared love of literature — Knight had stolen many books during his time in the woods.

They exchanged more and more letters, Knight offering his regrets on a life of crime and reflections on the differences between the two ways of life he had led. One fascinating, surprisingly literate, tidbit:

Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.

To learn more of his stunning story, read the long feature article at GQ, which we’ll again link to here. Trust us, the whole piece, though lengthy, is fascinating.

‘North Pond Hermit’ pleads guilty to burglary, theft
Christopher Knight, the man known as the North Pond Hermit, pleaded guilty on Monday and will be entered into a special program. WMTW News 8’s Aly Myles…

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