Tales of the North Pond Hermit may have sounded like fictional campfire stories to visitors of the woods near Rome, Maine. But after years of mysterious disappearances of food and supplies, police have arrested 47-year-old recluse Christopher Knight.
Knight was caught stealing food from a local camp that serves people with disabilities Thursday, and on Tuesday led police to his campsite. He confessed to committing around 1,000 thefts over the past three decades.
"It's been a myth, or legend, that a hermit was responsible," Maine State Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance told the Kennebec Journal.
Knight told police that he chose to live in the woods 27 years ago, immediately after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Kennebec Journal reports. Since then, Knight told police, he had only spoken to one person, a hiker in the 1990s who crossed his path.
It's unclear to police why Knight chose to live this lifestyle. He said that remembering Chernobyl was merely a way to mark time.
Police say he installed a 30-foot antenna above his campsite, the Journal reports, and listened to Rush Limbaugh's radio show.
"He doesn't hunt," Maine Warden Service Sgt. Terry Hughes told the local publication, explaining Knight's rationale for stealing. "He tried fishing a few times, but it was too much work." Knight also stole books and was a fan of the adventure tale "Robinson Crusoe."
The Bangor Daily News reports that Knight never lit a fire to avoid being caught and "[l]ike many mammals in the Maine wilderness" he "made an effort to put on weight in the fall so he would have to eat less in the winter."
An official from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife told the Daily News he suspected Knight's story was true.
Maine State Trooper Diane Vance told the Fremont Tribune that Knight said he had broken into the camp where he was apprehended Thursday about 50 times.