Maine hermit, alone for 27 years, sentenced to jail

PORTLAND, ME. -- In the end, Christopher Knight couldn't escape civilization.

After vanishing into the woods near Rome, Maine, in 1986 -- and living without human contact for 27 years -- Knight was sentenced Monday to seven months in prison and an intensive reintegration program after pleading guilty to burglary and theft. To survive, officials say, he committed hundreds of thefts and burglaries from local residents.

Knight, 47, was unmasked as the North Pond hermit in April after a game warden caught him burgling a kitchen at a camp for children with disabilities.

Officials discovered a well-concealed camp where Knight subsisted not by hunting or fishing but by filching essentials from locals, some of whom put supplies out on their back porches so he wouldn't come into their homes.

Knight said he had spoken to a hiker once, in passing, during his 27 years of solitude. He told officials he had not been sick since vanishing into the woods. He sometimes kept up with current events with a radio and knew Barack Obama was president. He remained cleanshaven despite not appearing to have a mirror -- sometimes, he told one official, he caught his own reflection in the water -- and had a pair of glasses.

But on Monday, Knight looked more unkempt after his time in jail than in his original booking photo, arriving at court with a long brown beard and graying hair around a bald crown.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.