Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I’ve gotten a few pings lately asking if I’m still here. Sorry for going silent for a few weeks, but the good folks over at Hyperion are hoping to get this book to you sooner than scheduled so I’ve been working every hour available, writing and researching.

Normally, all the research for a book happens before the actual writing begins. This ain’t normally. The research — uncovering new sources and secrets — is the fun part. (The actual writing part, for me at least, is occasionally about as enjoyable as having dental work). So it’s good, in one way, that every week I’m still digging up new pieces of information and finding new insight into this fascinating story. The bad part is that every moment spent interviewing new witnesses or acquaintances of Colt, or poking through the woods to discover one of his hideouts is time where I’m not here duct-taped to my laptop.

And to complicate matters, the story continues to unfold…

Everyone is most interested in what’s going on with Colt right now. He remains locked up in SeaTac Federal Detention Center. He’s doing about as well as can be expected. Sources in the system say that he’s still being held in solitary confinement. That’s not as punishment, but as a form of protective custody. Remember that he hasn’t been sentenced to any federal crimes, so he’s simply being held without bail, and the authorities believe it wouldn’t look good to have him roughed up in prison before he might be convicted. He’s getting lots of mail, corresponding with some old friends, and reportedly keeping a positive attitude. He, naturally, wishes he was someplace else.

A federal judge gave prosecutors until November 15 to present their indictments against Colton. Remember I’m not a lawyer so this is just for discussion purposes, but doing a quick look at the timeline I’ve created that includes criminal activity where there appears to be evidence, I’d guess the feds will present at least five or six interstate charges for planes, a boat and vehicles, each of which could carry a 10-year sentence. There could also be a federal charge for a bank break-in, maybe for assault and battery on an ATM, and possibly other sundry charges if they feel they can prove firearm violations.

State and local charges present a whole ‘nother issue. The million-dollar and many-years-behind-bars question is about consolidation. Conceivably, Colton could face federal charges, be found guilty, and get sentenced to x-number of 10-year sentences to be served concurrently — meaning he might do seven years. If all the various states and counties where prosecutors are also busy preparing cases can’t agree to come together and consolidate, then Colton risks a travelling road show where at any stop he could get a touchy local judge that slaps him with an additional 20.

A layman’s look at the potential local charges shows that some appear to be slam-dunks based on evidence, while others smell like polished dung due to lack of evidence. With a lot of suspected crimes to choose from, though, prosecutors may come to the negotiating table with a bulging box of charges but then, when it comes down to thinking they might have to actually try the case, winnow it down to just their strongest. However, just cherry picking cases could leave Colt in a lot of jeopardy if they’re tried one-by-one.

In our justice system, the defendant must agree to consolidating charges in one venue. On Colt’s side, you have the probability that he’d get a lesser sentence under a consolidation deal. On the prosecution side, you have the benefit of saving money by not having to prosecute and potentially incarcerate him in all the various jurisdictions. Add in, though, the political issues where local residents want to see Colt sentenced in the place where he did damage, and where local victims demand a shot at restitution, and you’ve got some very interesting dealings going on in the coming months.

Back to the dental work… Thank you to those hanging in there — I promise to post more frequently.


  1. Thanks for the update, Bob, and lots of encouragement on the writing from all us blog readers! We patiently but anxiously (is that possible?) await the results.

    Can you give us more of an idea of what life is like for Colton in solitary confinement? Does he get to interact with anyone at all? Is he allowed out of his cell for meals? Does he participate in prison activities? Does he receive visitors?

  2. Inmates in SeaTac FDC's Segregated Housing Unit (solitary) have reported 24-hour lockdown and all meals served in the cell. I don't know at this point if those are the exact conditions for Colt as well.

    Colt is allowed visitation only from his legal team and immediate family members.

  3. It's certanly very hard for him to be locked in one room, he used to live freely with no limits.
    It's realy sad...

  4. Has Colton had a chance to see his dog Mellenie?

  5. Colt may have seen Melanie not too long ago during his run (I'll discuss that in the book), and he's seen a relatively recent photo of her that I posted on this site, but no: The prison system does not allow pets to visit -- even immediate family like Melanie.

  6. Thank you so much for the update, Bob! And good luck for the long work days ahead…

    I can understand the need for protective custody, but I sure do hope that his current conditions are not as bad as the typical solitary confinement conditions. Unfortunately, I doubt that pretrial detainees are treated much differently than other inmates. I was reading the blog (kept by his wife) of marijuana activist Marc Emery, who's imprisoned at SeaTac like Colt and spent a couple of weeks in solitary confinement.

    Quote : "He explained that it was very, very bad in SHU, "just like solitary confinement in the movies, truly that horrible". He's completely deprived of any human contact or fresh air or space. He has never been allowed out of his cell. Food is delivered through a slot in the door three times a day, take it or leave it (and Marc eats whatever they give; you have nothing else). Guards don't even open the doors for check-up; they just look through a tiny window in the door. It's 24-hour lockdown in a tiny little room with nothing but non-stop screaming and yelling from the other SHU inmates."

    Even if it's not as bad as this for Colton, I am still worried. He must be going crazy from the lack of human contact, sunshine and fresh air.

  7. Why would the so-called "justice" system keep a non-violent 19-year-old caged up in such appallingly inhumane conditions?
    What the system is doing to Colton is far worse than anything Colton is alleged to have done.
    He hasn't been convicted yet of any wrongdoing as an adult. I understand that the authorities want to keep him in custody, because he has escaped from juvenile facilities, but there's got to be a better way than his current conditions of confinement.
    Possibly leaders from the National Center for Institutions and Alternatives could help bring about a better situation for Colton as he awaits trial. They've done a whole lot of good work for inmates and families for more than 30 years.
    Lindsay Hayes and Meredith Patti are NCIA attorneys whose experience could help Colton with his conditions of confinement, and also with his trial and sentencing. Mr. Hayes has been in Seattle recently to try to improve conditions at the King County jails.
    I hope Colton's lawyers will contact them and that Colton will be able to benefit from their expertise as well as from his own excellent attorneys, Mr. Browne and Ms. Scanlan.
    If Colton had been born into a better family and community situation, I think he would likely be a college student now, like other young guys his age, possibly in Boston or Chapel Hill or South Bend or Austin or Palo Alto, looking forward to a bright future...

  8. We visited the Woodland Park Zoo last week. The animals there have much better living conditions than Colton does.
    What can we do to help Colton?

  9. I think the best escape plan for Colton these days is through books and letters. You can write to him, let him know you're out there and that you're concerned for him as a person (as opposed to being interested in him as a former headline fugitive). The best thing for him at this point is that he keep a positive attitude while he faces a whole lot of uncertainty.

    You can also send him books that he can use to transport himself out of prison.

    On the practical side: Remember that no mail will get to him without his federal number:
    SeaTac FDC
    PO Box 13900
    Seattle, WA 98198

    You cannot send him stamps. It's safest just to send a plain letter. Everything is opened and searched before being given to him.

    To send books, do not send it yourself or it will not get to him. You need to send it through a publisher or bookstore. Your local bookstore can package it up for you and mail it, or you can order it sent to him direct through Amazon or B&N.

  10. I live in Canada, not sure I can send something, but if I could, it would be a creative writing course. Great way to get your head figured out, writing about what's happened. Time passes very quickly when you're writing and this is one course that will make up for much of the school he's missed. Good prep for future college courses too.

  11. Please let us know if Colton is allowed to receive postcards.

  12. Hi Bob, just ran across your blog today while trying to find an update on Colt. Thank you for posting updates, I'm very intrigued by this brilliant young man, but I MUST say that I DON'T Support what he did!

  13. I went to www.bop.gov and typed in his Fed. Reg # and it said inmate can not be found?

  14. Hi what you have written is helpful. I wanted to ask how you got the number. I plugged this into the
    federal Prison Locator, but it came up with no match. I also looked on SeaTac at Wikipedia under notorious inmates, but for him there is no number listed although other prisoners have one.
    Also each jail has different procedures for mailing books and these vary widely. Will SeaTac allow books from Amazon? This is not a given as jails in many states will not.

  15. I got the number direct from the Federal authorities. His name, that ID number I've posted, and the address of FDC Seatac will get mail to Colton. FDC regs state that they will allow books mailed directly from publishers or book stores -- brick and mortar or online retailers such as Amazon.

  16. Thanks for your help and updates. I'm all fixed up with the number. I put some money on his account for snacks and stuff he needs. I sent him a book about how to fly helicopters. I hope this and a little letter will bring a little comfort. It is very distressing to be placed in solitary confinement. I hope his bed is long enough for his height so he can stretch out. I am praying for the young man.