Authorities: Maine hermit attracts marriage offer
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AUGUSTA, Maine -- The man who spent nearly three decades in the woods of Maine before his high-profile arrest earlier this month has attracted a marriage proposal and a stranger's offer to bail him out, prompting authorities to dramatically increase his bail Sunday amid fears he could be targeted for exploitation.
Christopher Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit to locals, spent 27 years in the woods with virtually no contact with other people. But in the short time since his arrest he's had a lot of people trying to get close to him, officials said.
Someone called the jail where he's being held with a marriage proposal while a man Knight didn't know showed up Saturday night offering to pay his $5,000 bail, The Kennebec Journal reported.
Worried Knight could be the target of someone looking to capitalize on his notoriety, authorities charged him with two additional counts of burglary and theft and increased his bail to $250,000.
"My job is to ensure he does appear in court," Maine State Trooper Diane Perkins-Vance told the newspaper. "But there's a lot of people out there trying to exploit him."
District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said the big bail increase is unusual, but then this is an unusual case.
"The first concern is he might be a flight risk," she said. "The second concern is the group of people who are interested in posting bail for Mr. Knight who are not from our state and not members of his family.
"I will remain concerned for Mr. Knight until he has an attorney helping him to navigate what is a new world to him," she said.
Police said Knight, 47, may have been responsible for as many as 1,000 burglaries over the years, raiding cottages and campsites for food, cooking gear, sleeping bags, tents and other goods to help him survive.
Knight was arrested after authorities said he tripped a surveillance sensor set up by a game warden while stealing food from a camp for people with special needs. Authorities later found the campsite where they said Knight lived: a tent covered by tarps suspended between trees, a bed, propane cooking stoves and a battery-powered radio.
Officials said Knight is in the general jail population and doing well despite his years of isolation.
"He's smiling, pleasant," Perkins-Vance said. "He's a very humble man."
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