He escaped civilization in 1986 but had to steal from it to survive: packaged food, clothes. Officials said locals in Maine put supplies out on their porches for him so at least the North Pond hermit wouldn't enter their homes.
He always traveled at night so no one would see him. He seemed to fear attention more than the unforgiving Maine winters: He piled on sleeping bags instead of starting fires.
"The only words that he'd spoken to another person in 27 years," said Doug Rafferty, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, "was when he said 'Hi, how are you' to a guy on another trail that he was walking." That was in the 1990s.
That changed last week.
Christopher Knight, 47, was snatched from solitude in the woods near Rome, Maine, and arrested on suspicion of more than 1,000 burglaries.
He was caught raiding a local camp's pantry in the middle of the night, after a game warden set up sensors.
The warden, Terry Hughes, recalled Knight's reaction to being shown a picture of himself snapped four or five years ago by a game camera.
"He turned his head and he looked at the photo, and he stared at it for a while," Hughes told the Morning Sentinel. "And I was watching him, and watching his eyes, and I knew right off that there was more to this. So I asked him, I said, 'When was the last time you have seen a picture of yourself or looked in a mirror?' And he looked at me, and he didn't know what to say.
"And I waited, and then he finally said, 'I've seen my reflection in the water a few times.' "
Hughes said Knight appeared to have taken the exact same steps on the same trails for decades.
"He was adamant that he wouldn't leave his campsite in the winter because he didn't want to be tracked back to his location," Hughes said. Knight said he spent the winter days reading books and meditating.