Person Who Lived In Forest Alone And Only Said One Word For 3 Decades Emerges From Seclusion

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Oct 16, 2023

Local authorities finally apprehended a man who had been stealing from his neighbors for almost 30 years. The man was caught after triggering a sensor in a special-needs home he was trying to steal from. 

He was arrested in the Northeastern state of Maine. His arrest was due to the effort of a game warden, Terry Hughes, who was determined to put a stop to the burglaries in the area.

The Hermit in the Woods

Christopher Thomas Knight lived as a hermit for almost 30 years. He disappeared at the age of 19 and had been nowhere to be found until his arrest in Maine in 2013. 


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According to some residents, they had no idea they had been living with a hermit for years, but some were well aware of his existence and even linked him to the thefts happening in the area. 


The Decision That Spanned 27 Years

Hermits live in solitude, away from civilization, and usually for religious reasons. Christopher stated no reason for his hermit lifestyle. According to him, he was 20 years old when he decided to live as a hermit. 


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He hopped into his car without plans or a map, and he drove as far as his gas would take him. After he ran out of gas, he just kept walking and walking until he found a spot far away from civilization. 

The Hermit Recounts His Last Memory of Civilization

Christopher had no idea how much time had passed since he began life as a hermit. He stopped keeping track of time but could remember the Chornobyl nuclear plant accident just before he moved away from people. 


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This happened in 1986; he was 20 years at the time. Christopher, who was 47 years at the time of arrest, had no address or paid taxes as he lived in isolation.

Confessions of a Hermit

Upon Christopher’s arrest, he did not hesitate to confess his crimes. He felt ashamed of every crime he committed in a bid to fund his hermit lifestyle. 


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He had committed over 40 robberies and thousands of break-ins within the period he lived as a hermit. Christopher admitted that breaking in never came easy for him, and he would always panic before going to rob.

A Hermit’s Nest

The local authorities in Maine found a campsite believed to be Christopher’s. The camp had a tent tied to trees, a cooking gas, and a battery radio he used to keep up with the world he left. 

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His abode also had some supplies he had stolen over the years, mainly food and books, to aid his survival. 


Life as a Hermit Is Not as Easy as It Sounds

Before his life as a petty robber, he would scavenge for food. He picked up roadkill and harvested vegetables from the woods and nearby gardens. 

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When he realized he could not sustain his lifestyle by scavenging alone, he stole from camps around him. Christopher would break in between 1 and 2 am to steal supplies from people’s freezers and make his way back to the woods.  


More Confessions to Local Authorities

Christopher also told local authorities he never broke in when people were in their homes and made a lot of effort to leave without a trace. He would only steal what he needed to survive in the woods- clothes, food, propane for cooking, and reading materials. 

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Everything he owned, except for his glasses, was stolen property. Local authorities marvel at how he got away with the continuous robberies for such a long time. 


Residents In Shock

Some cottage owners were well aware of Christopher and tried to share some living supplies with him, especially during the winter. They mostly did such favors to prevent him from breaking in when it got cold. 

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Other residents around the area were oblivious to the neighbor who lived in the woods. Some residents were even more surprised the hermit had lived longer in the community than they had, without detection.


Looking for Criminal Records

While in detention, the local authorities looked him up in their system and discovered he had no criminal record. Christopher explained he grew up in Albion, Maine. Where he grew up was just an hour away from where he lived as a hermit. 

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The authorities had also learned about Christopher’s high school before his disappearance in 1986. In the school’s yearbook, the eyeglasses he wore was the exact one he wore when he was arrested.


The Last Verbal Contact

During questioning, Christopher admitted that his only verbal contact was years ago when he came in contact with a hiker in the woods. 

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They exchanged “hi’s and hello’s” before hereturned too solitude. This communication happened in 1986 and was the last verbal exchange and human contact he had before his arrest and detention. 


The Trap

Christopher’s favorite target was Pine Tree Camp. This was the camp where game warden Terry Hughes was positioned as security. Hughes’s determination to catch the burglar led him to set up a surveillance camera. 

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The hermit was finally nabbed when he triggered the alarm on his way out with a backpack of food he had stolen from the freezer.


Recovering Stolen Items

According to Ron Churchill, owner of Bear Springs Camp in Rome, their camp had lost a couple of propane to thefts. He also said his employees had recounted seeing a hermit in the past. 

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Some of the missing propane containers were found in Christopher’s camp. He had used the propane containers for cooking purposes only. During periods of harsh winter, he would use multiple sleeping bags to keep warm rather than start a fire.


Advantages of Living as a Hermit

Many people aired their skepticism. They could not believe how Christopher lived without utilizing modern facilities even once. They also wondered how he dealt with wild animals and possible health issues. 

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Christopher said he had had no health issues since living as a hermit.  He said, “You have to be around people to catch something.”


Empathetic Victims

After hearing his story, many victims of his crime had mixed feelings. Quite a number of victims were sympathetic towards him and believed sending him to prison was rather extreme. 

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The court did not know what to do with him as his case was a first, so he remained in detention for months pending the court’s decision. 


Back in Civilization

Six months after his arrest, Christopher was arraigned in court, where he pleaded guilty to 13 counts of burglary and theft. He was sentenced to 7 months in jail, which he had already served, and two years probation. 

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Christopher would appear before the judge every Monday and abstain from liquor during his probation period. He got a job with his brother and lived with his mother during this time, but no one knows what has become of this hermit who just wants to be left alone.