LEWISTON — “I don’t know your world,” Christopher Knight, the 47-year-old man who for two decades, lived as a recluse in the woods of North Pond, told GQ writer Michael Finkel.

According to a news release from the magazine, Knight told GQ, “Only my world, and memories of the world before I went into the woods. What life is today? What is proper? I have to figure out how to live.”

Knight, who is being held on robbery charges at the Kennebec County Jail in Augusta, corresponds with Finkel by mail about literature and about how he ended up in jail. Finkel also interviewed him in person.

According to the interview, Knight estimates he committed approximately 40 robberies per year, with a grand total of over 1,000 break-ins.

According to the release, Knight’s account of what drove him into the woods is slim, though he had been there since 1986.

“I drove until I was nearly out of gas,” he said. “I took a small road. Then a small road off that small road. Then a trail off that. I had a backpack and minimal stuff. I had no plans. I had no map. I didn’t know where I was going. I just walked away,” he told the magazine.

Living in the woods, Knight said he was forced to steal in order to survive. “It was usually 1 or 2 a.m. I’d go in, hit the cabinets, the refrigerator. In and out. My heart rate was soaring. It was not a comfortable act. I took no pleasure in it, none at all, and I wanted it over as quickly as possible.”

Knight eluded and frustrated residents and police for 26 years before his arrest on April 4, 2013.

Finkel hiked out to survey Knight’s camp, where Knight finally settled after two years of roving the woods. He had a tent, a box spring and mattress commandeered from a nearby cabin, and a trash pit full of stolen propane tanks.

“I stole. I was a thief. I repeatedly stole over many years. I knew it was wrong. Knew it was wrong, felt guilty about it every time, yet continued to do it.” But he said he kept no record of his time, according to the magazine. “I expected to die out there. Who would read my journal? I’d rather take it to my grave.”

Finkel reported there has been mention made of a possible diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome by an examiner from the county jail, but Knight said he is not taking any medication. He’ll be released at the end of his seven-month sentence, most of which he has already served, with the condition that he must go to school or get a job. He may not go back to the woods.

“Sitting here in jail,” he told Finkel, “I don’t like what I see in the society I’m about to enter. I don’t think I’m going to fit in. It’s too loud. Too colorful. The lack of aesthetics. The crudeness. The inanities. The trivia.”

The September issue of GQ will be available in Maine on Aug. 26.


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