Starting in 2007, a troubled teenager from Camano Island captured the nation’s consideration as a fugitive who managed to elude police by way of a daring collection of escapades involving stolen vehicles, boats, and airplanes. Colton Harris-Moore (b. 1991), popularly often called the “Barefoot Bandit” due to his propensity for committing crimes with out sporting sneakers, grew to become a media sensation and developed a rabid on-line following. Some hailed him as a modern-day people hero; others denounced his crimes, citing the big quantity of property stolen from victims. After two years on the run, Harris-Moore was captured in 2010 after crash-landing a stolen aircraft within the Bahamas.
Early Years on Camano
Colton Harris-Moore was born on the Skagit Valley Hospital on March 22, 1991, to oldsters Pamela Kohler and Gordon Moore. His father, who reportedly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, deserted the household when Colton was a toddler, leaving Kohler with sole custody. She raised her son on Camano Island, the place they struggled financially, residing out a meager existence in a ramshackle single-wide trailer. Kohler struggled with alcoholism, leading to an unstable and sometimes abusive surroundings. Colton started exhibiting behavioral points at an early age.
By the age of seven, he was working away from residence regularly. He would usually spend days at a trip within the close by forests. As a matter of survival, he began breaking into trip houses, the place he would steal meals and numerous tenting provides. His first conviction for stolen property got here on the age of 12, and inside a yr he had begun serving time at juvenile-detention facilities because of much more convictions.
Harris-Moore attended Stanwood Center College, however was ultimately transferred to Lincoln Hill Different College (additionally in Stanwood) because of ongoing disciplinary points. His college expertise at Lincoln Hill went a lot the identical, and by the ninth grade he slowly stopped going to highschool and ultimately dropped out. Throughout this era, Little one Protecting Providers paid a number of visits to the household residence because of suspected neglect or abuse, and Colton was positioned in momentary foster care.
Not tethered to the general public college system, Harris-Moore continued to run afoul of the regulation, and on July 14, 2006, a warrant was issued for his arrest after he did not attend a compulsory courtroom date. Upon studying that he was now needed by the police, Harris-Moore went on the lam. He arrange hidden campsites deep within the Camano Island woods and continued his follow of burglarizing houses for meals and provides. A few of the houses he broke into had computer systems, which he started accessing with a view to educate himself find out how to steal identities. He would order bank cards within the home-owner’s identify, which he would then use to buy meals and high-tech survival gear comparable to night-vision goggles that helped him keep forward of the police.
Harris-Moore was captured and arrested on February 9, 2007. He had been on the run for greater than six months and was now dealing with 23 legal costs, most of which have been because of residential burglaries. He made a take care of prosecutors and pleaded responsible to a few of the crimes, resulting in a three-year sentence at Inexperienced Hill College, a high-security juvenile detention facility in Chehalis.
Catch Me If You Can
Harris-Moore proved to be a mannequin student-inmate at Inexperienced Hill College and was transferred to the Griffin Residence Residential Remedy Heart on February 14, 2008. Situated in Renton, Griffin was a minimum-security midway residence used to transition troubled youths again into society. Many speculated that his exemplary habits was merely a ruse with a view to relocate himself to a spot with higher escape alternatives. Two months later, on April 29, he proved such theories right when he slipped by way of an unlocked window at Griffin Residence. A felony warrant was quickly issued for his arrest.
After breaking out of Griffin Residence, Harris-Moore stole a automotive and returned to Camano Island, the place he resumed his behavior of breaking-and-entering with a view to steal meals and provides. This time, native authorities have been higher ready and mounted an aggressive marketing campaign for his seize. The native media additionally had taken discover, and information tales quickly started showing about this mysterious teenage outlaw.
On July 18, 2008, the protection of his ongoing saga acquired a major media bump when sheriff’s deputies on Camano Island gave chase to a black Mercedes that had been seen driving erratically. Because the police vehicles closed in, the motive force of the Mercedes all of a sudden jumped out and ran off into the woods. When police searched the Mercedes they discovered an assortment of stolen bank cards, cell telephones, and a digital digicam that the motive force had used to take some self-portraits. Harris-Moore was shortly recognized because the particular person within the pictures, together with a picture he took of himself through which he’s seen mendacity on his again in the course of a forest and looking out straight up on the digicam. The now iconic picture was extensively disseminated on-line, leading to a rising fanbase that started following the small print of this ongoing crime saga. By this time, the 17-year-old fugitive had earned a catchy nickname ensuing from his behavior of committing crimes whereas barefoot and typically leaving footprints behind. Amongst his rising legion of followers, he was now turning into often called the Barefoot Bandit.
On account of all of the authorized warmth, Harris-Moore determined to flee from Camano Island and used a stolen boat to relocate himself to Orcas Island. Quickly after his arrival, in August 2008, the San Juan County Sheriff’s Workplace started receiving an growing variety of housebreaking stories, inflicting widespread alarm all through the small island group. Issues reached such a important stage that on October 2, 2008, the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce held a particular assembly to handle the sudden plague of refined break-ins. Police ramped up efforts to catch the particular person accountable, who by now was strongly suspected as being Colton Harris-Moore.
On November 12, 2008, Harris-Moore determined to flee the police dragnet that was now arrange for him on Orcas Island and stole a Cessna 182 – a single-engine airplane – from a hangar. Regardless of having no earlier aviation expertise, he was in a position to efficiently take off from the island and fly 300 miles to the east, the place he crash-landed the plane on the Yakama Indian Reservation and escaped earlier than authorities might arrive. It’s believed that he taught himself to fly from studying plane manuals, watching tutorial DVDs, and the numerous hours he spent taking part in Microsoft Flight Simulator — a favourite of his since he was a younger little one. When police searched the aircraft, a telltale signal of footprints was found contained in the cockpit, confirming Harris-Moore because the possible suspect.
Because it turned out, the stolen Cessna belonged to Bob Rivers, a well-liked radio host on Seattle station KZOK-FM. Rivers discovered of the theft instantly after signing off from his morning radio present. A yr later, when Harris-Moore was nonetheless on the run, Rivers commented in regards to the incident, telling radio listeners, “I don’t purchase this folk-hero stuff … I used to be livid that one thing like this might occur. I really need him caught” (“Radio’s Bob Rivers”).
Following the aircraft heist, Harris-Moore stole a collection of vehicles and stayed on the transfer, touring between such locations as Reno, Sacramento, and Japanese Washington. Whereas on the run, he had 10 costs filed in opposition to him by Island County prosecutors, together with id theft and unlawful flight to keep away from prosecution.
Returning to Camano Island in Could 2009, Harris-Moore resumed his cat-and-mouse video games with the Island County Sheriff’s Division. Within the early morning hours of June 19, 2009, he broke right into a patrol automotive that was parked in entrance of a deputy’s home and stole police gear, together with a cellphone, an official-issue police rifle, and a provide of ammunition. In response, the sheriff’s division ramped up efforts to seize the teenager outlaw, although by this time, Harris-Moore, now 18, had change into fairly calculated, cautious, and meticulous in his actions. He at all times managed to remain a number of steps forward of regulation enforcement.
All through the summer season of 2009, and nicely into the autumn, he continued his sample of island hopping. On September 11, 2009, he stole his second aircraft – a Cirrus SR22 – from the San Juan Island public airport and flew it to Orcas Island, touchdown it on the island’s public airport runway. From there, he stole a ship and sailed to Point Roberts. A path of burglaries then stretched throughout British Columbia, ultimately coming to a cease at Bonners Ferry in northern Idaho.
On September 29, 2009, he broke right into a Bonners Ferry airplane hangar and made off with a Cessna 182, his third stolen aircraft, which he managed to fly 260 miles to the west. Camano Island had been his meant touchdown web site, however the aircraft ran out of gas, forcing a crash-landing close to Granite Falls. Throughout their investigation of the Idaho airplane hangar, police found a telltale set of footprints. Kohler, when requested in regards to the aircraft theft and her son’s involvement, informed reporters, “I’m happy with him. I used to be going to ship him to flight college, however I assume I don’t should” (“On The Path Of …”).
On October 2, 2009, a brand new felony warrant for “compelled entry housebreaking” was issued for Harris-Moore’s arrest, adopted two months later by a federal arrest warrant, ensuing from the theft of the Bonners Ferry airplane. By this time he had change into the prime suspect for about 100 thefts all through Washington, Idaho, and Canada, most of which concerned vehicles, airplanes, and speedboats. Undeterred by the costs piling up in opposition to him, he commandeered yet one more Cirrus SR22 from the Anacortes Airport on February 10, 2010, which he later landed on Orcas Island. The next day, he burglarized a neighborhood retailer, Homegrown Grocery, stealing greater than $1,000 in money. Embracing his nickname, he used chalk to attract a path of cartoonish-looking toes that snaked up and down the aisles of the shop. The footprints ended with a taunting message: “C-Ya.”
At this level, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Division of Homeland Safety (DHS) had additionally change into concerned within the hunt, and a number of other brokers have been deployed to Orcas Island. Coast Guard cutters patrolled the offshore waters, looking out for suspicious watercraft, and a Black Hawk helicopter was flown in to assist with manhunt efforts. Once more, Harris-Moore was in a position to escape the island and make it to close by San Juan Island, the place he then piloted a stolen boat again to his residence terrain on Camano Island. Quickly after, the FBI positioned a $10,000 reward for info resulting in the arrest of the 19-year-old fugitive.
On Could 31, 2010, a handwritten notice and $100 in money was discovered at a veterinary clinic in Raymond. The notice learn, “Drove by, had some further money. Please use this cash for the care of animals — Colton Harris-Moore (AKA: The Barefoot Bandit).”
Captured in The Bahamas
In June 2010, Harris-Moore fled the heavy police presence in Washington and made his approach throughout the nation in a collection of stolen automobiles, making it as far east as Illinois. On July 4, 2010, a Cessna was reported stolen from an airport in Bloomington, Indiana. As was instantly suspected, Harris-Moore was liable for the aircraft’s theft. His meant vacation spot was Cuba, because of its lack of extradition treaties with the U.S. authorities. Harris-Moore used his piloting expertise to make it so far as the Bahamas, the place he was compelled to crash land the aircraft close to Nice Abaco Island. After the jagged touchdown, he discovered his strategy to a close-by fishing village, the place he survived for a number of days by stealing meals from close by shops and eating places.
On July 11, 2010, Harris-Moore was captured simply earlier than daybreak at Harbour Island, Bahamas. Because of a collection of suggestions from native residents, the Bahamian police managed to shut in on the well-known fugitive after he ran a stolen boat onto a sandbar and have become caught only a quick distance from shore. Not taking any possibilities, the police shot out the boat’s engine and ordered him to place his arms within the air. Moore responded by placing a gun to his head and threatening to tug the set off. He was talked out of it and shortly surrendered to authorities.
Two days later, he was extradited from Nassau, Bahamas, to Miami, the place was held till July 21, at which level he was transferred to the Federal Detention Heart in SeaTac. He was held there for the subsequent two years whereas he confronted quite a few costs at county, state, and federal ranges. After being sentenced to seven years of state jail time, and a further six years by the Island County Court docket, he proceeded to Federal District Court docket in Seattle to face federal costs. On January 27, 2012, a U.S. District Court docket decide suggested Harris-Moore that “it was time for a brand new life flight plan” (“Colton Harris-Moore AKA …”) and sentenced him to 6 years in jail. Harris-Moore informed the courtroom that he was genuinely remorseful for his crimes, and that when he obtained out of jail, he deliberate to work to change into an aeronautical engineer. His county, state, and federal jail occasions have been consolidated, and he was transferred to the Stafford Creek Corrections Heart in Aberdeen to start serving a six-year sentence. Quickly after reporting to jail, he bought the rights to his life story to twentieth Century Fox for $1.4 million, all of which went towards restitution per the phrases of his sentencing.
In 2016, his mom Pam was recognized with stage-four lung most cancers. Given her terminal prognosis, Harris-Moore arrange a GoFundMe web page, soliciting funds to have his mom’s physique cryogenically frozen, with the hope that her physique could possibly be later revived and cured of her most cancers when know-how allowed for such issues. “Cryonic preservation is the one resolution to save lots of Pam,” he wrote on his since-deleted GoFundMe web page, the place he sought $230,000 for the process. His mom died on Could 17, 2016. On the time of her loss of life, Harris-Moore had raised solely $2,170. Since he hadn’t met his objective, the cash was refunded to donors.
On September 2, 2016, Colton Harris-Moore, 25, was launched from jail on probation and went to dwell at a midway home close to Seattle. He took a part-time clerical job with John Henry Browne, the Seattle lawyer who had represented him in courtroom.
In December 2016, he began one other GoFundMe web page, hoping to lift greater than $125,000 for flight-school coaching. As he wrote on his web page, “Now I’m 25 years outdated, free, and able to do it (fly) LEGALLY! I really like airplanes, however I’ll by no means steal one or break the regulation once more. I broke the regulation huge league after I was youthful, however now it’s time to give attention to my profession and life within the free world.” Nevertheless, regardless of the $1.4 million he had acquired from twentieth Century Fox (which was used for restitution), he nonetheless owed his victims $129,000. Because of this, he was ordered to halt fundraising efforts till that stability had been paid. His GoFundMe web page had raised $1,600, all of which went to the court-ordered restitution. On his Twitter account, which has since been deleted, Harris-Moore tweeted, “I really feel like my dream has been crushed. What a horrible feeling” (“Feds Shut Down …”)
As of the date of this writing [September 2022], his final public look occurred in Could 2019, when he was interviewed on KTTH 770 in Seattle by conservative radio persona Jason Rantz. In the course of the interview, Harris-Moore mirrored on his life, recalling how his lifelong curiosity in airplanes had resulted in his first memorable flight, again in 2008, when he piloted a stolen Cessna: “It’s this uncontrollable obsession, that’s actually what it’s … It’s one thing that you’ve got dreamt about and waited on your complete life. And out of all the probabilities of that second, it doesn’t matter what state of affairs or state of affairs you can end up in, that one second, you have been precisely the place you have been alleged to be, and I ponder if I’ll ever really feel that once more. It’s a kind of moments that I believe you solely get a few times in your complete life” (“Colton Harris-Moore Hopes …”)
Seeking to his future, Harris-Moore struck a considerably pessimistic tone, “I believe it’s gonna be troublesome to have a standard life. I actually do. Actually, I don’t assume I’m ever going to have a standard life.” Since that interview, he accomplished his probation and has remained reclusive, erasing all traces of himself on any beforehand held social media pages. His present whereabouts are unknown.
Bob Friel, The Barefoot Bandit: The True Story of Colton Harris-Moore (New York: Hyperion, 2012); Diane Brooks, “He’s In The Proper Place Now,” The Seattle Occasions, February 11, 2007, p. B-1; Jennifer Sullivan, “‘Feral’ Teen Fugitive Has Camano Island Seething Once more,” Ibid., July 26, 2008, p. 1; Jack Broom, “Radio’s Bob Rivers Owned Stolen Aircraft,” Ibid., October 9, 2009, p. B-4; Erik Lacitis, “One other Futile Search For The ‘Barefoot Bandit’,” Ibid., March 19, 2010, p. 1; Susan Gilmore, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Leaves $100 At Animal Hospital,” Ibid., June 19, 2010, p. B-1; Carly Flandro, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Now In Nebraska?” Ibid., June 22, 2010, p. B-2; Mike Carter, “Fugitive Charged In Idaho Aircraft Theft,” Ibid., July 7, 2010, p. 1; Jennifer Sullivan and Erik Lacitis, “For ‘Barefoot Bandit,’ Judicial Uncertainties,” Ibid., July 12, 2010, p. 1; Erik Lacitis, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Again In U.S.,” Ibid., July 14, 2010, p. 1; Curt Anderson, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Will Head To Seattle To Face Fees,” Ibid., July 17, 2010, p. B-2; Mike Carter and Jennifer Sullivan, “Bandit’s Life On The Lam Was No Enjoyable, Lawyer Says,” Ibid., July 23, 2010, p. 1; Mike Carter, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Pleads Responsible To 7 Felonies,” Ibid., June 18, 2011, p. B-1; Mike Carter and Christine Clarridge, “A Remorseful Barefoot Bandit Will get 6-1/2 Years And A Warning,” Ibid., January 28, 2012, p. 1; “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Needs To Freeze His Dying Mom,” Ibid., April 17, 2016, p. B-3; Mike Carter, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ To Go Free, Work For His Lawyer,” Ibid., August 4, 2016, p. 1; Evan Bush, “Barefoot Bandit’s Fundraiser Shut Down By The Feds,” Ibid., December 21, 2016, p. 1; “The Camano Child Will get Nationwide Consideration,” Seattle Submit-Intelligencer, December 18, 2009, p. 10; “Sheriff: Search For Colton Harris-Moore Scaled Again,” Ibid., March 19, 2010, p. 48; Vanessa Ho, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Faces New Legal Fees,” Ibid., Could 17, 2011, p. D-1; Ed Pilington, “On The Path Of The Barefoot Bandit,” The Guardian, December 14, 2009, p. 1; Colin Horgan, “Barefoot Bandit is an Antihero for Era Y,” Ibid., July 14, 2010, p. 2; “Feds Shut Down Barefoot Bandit’s Flight College Efforts,” Dec 20, 2016, MyNorthwest.com web site accessed on August 15, 2022 (www.mynorthwest.com/494639/colton-harris-moore-wants-125-5k-for-pilot-lessons); “Colton Harris-Moore Hopes To Depart The ‘Barefoot Bandit’ Moniker Behind,” Could 13, 2019, MyNorthwest.com web site accessed on August 15, 2022 (www.mynorthwest.com/1381710/colton-harris-moore-barefoot-bandit); “Colton Harris-Moore AKA ‘The Barefoot Bandit’ Sentenced,” January 27, 2012, USAO, Western District of Washington web site accessed on August 15, 2022 (www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/29574); Noah Haglund, “‘Barefoot Bandit’ Asks Decide To Shorten His Supervised Launch,” April 24, 2019, the Everett Herald web site accessed on August 15, 2022 (www.heraldnet.co/m/information/colton-harris-moore-asks-judge-to-shorten-supervised-release).
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