Monday, March 22, 2010



It’s been 691 days since Colt climbed out a window at the Renton group home where he was serving out the remainder of his sentence for burglary and possession of stolen property. And today is his birthday. How is he celebrating?

Apparently his plan is to spend his special day here on Orcas Island in Washington State’s Puget Sound. It’s a gorgeous day, so far, with brilliant blue skies and a temp near 50 degrees. We’ve had an early spring thanks to El Nino, with many clear, almost summer-like days mixed amid periods of sopping rain and a few near-freezing morning lows. We don’t know if Colt’s been camping in the woods or squatting in vacant homes, sneaking into islander’s sheds, or maybe holed up with an accomplice, but if he’s outside, he’s gone through quite a number of cold, wet nights since he came back.

Twice now law enforcement has put together serious manhunts for Colt, including helicopters, FBI agents and SWAT teams. The most recent was St. Paddy’s night, when just as many of us were headed home from parties at around 2 a.m., the alarm went out, the choppers lifted off and the shit hit the fan. They felt they had Colt cornered here on the west side of Orcas. He had his back to the cold waters of Puget Sound, and the only place he could run was across rugged and ridiculously steep terrain.

The search went on, full-bore, for 14 hours before finally being scaled back. He got away again, and earned another stretch of freedom that looks like it will at least run through his 19th birthday.  

One note to add to previous barefoot speculation: Reportedly there were bare footprints found during this latest chase, evidence that Colt is, indeed, running around the woods barefoot, even in winter.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010



It looks like Colt has purposely put himself back on Orcas Island, 58-square-miles of rolling fir and cedar forests, farmed valleys, and one small town. The only ways off Orcas are by boat or small plane. Is this his ultimate "game"?

Colton Harris-Moore has gone from troubled youth to petty crook, to basically living off the land — stealing food and finding shelter — to stealing whatever he wanted out of homes and businesses, to boosting cars, boats and, allegedly, planes in order to get around. Now, in a troubling escalation, he’s gone from being a cat burglar who always took great pains to avoid notice, to someone who, apparently, is openly taunting local residents and police.

Oddly, whoever drew the goofy foots in Homegrown Market also tried to destroy the security system hard drive… Why go to all the trouble of wrecking a computer video system if you’re also leaving a calling card that’s a big “Here I am and F.U. all!”? Maybe it’s not Colt, just a method-acting copycat. Or maybe he’s not acting alone, but has local help… Who knows at this point. However, if this is Colt, then he’s escalated what he thinks of as a game -- but everyone else involved is taking very seriously -- to all-new dangerous levels.

Hunting Colt here on Orcas are uniformed and undercover police, occasionally Federal agents, and for one long day that got real annoying for locals, a department of Homeland Security Blackhawk circling endlessly trying to spot suspects using its FLIR. But wait, there’s more: Any unusually tall young men who show up on Orcas at night these days have the chance to meet some of our very own vigilantes and get a taser shoved up their asses.

How long does Colt plan to play? Really bad “media” reports speculate that he has nothing to lose and that since he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison, why stop now. His mom says that Colt himself has in his mind that he’s looking at 20 years no matter how this ends. Wrong and wrong. Wrong and only making all this more dangerous for Colt and everyone else.

Here’s some sober speculation, based on interviews with lawyers and law enforcement.

IF Colt gets CAUGHT, the indictments could definitely total a lifetime — but that’s at retail. Nobody ever serves retail. Counties will make deals to clear crimes off their books; a lot of the charges will be from when he was a juvenile and probably get tossed; all the jurisdictions will come together to see who really wants to prosecute him; and it’s standard for a lot of sentences to be served concurrently, i.e. three three-year sentences for felony burglary could all be served at the same time.

Yes, everything could still easily add up to 20 years plus a shitload of restitution (Colt’s young: he’ll have a lot of years to pay back the insurance companies for those planes if he’s convicted of stealing and breaking them). And, obviously, that’s only if he gets caught before someone gets physically hurt — by accident or not — or Colt’s caught committing a crime with a gun. If either of those happen, then all bets are off and it’s going to be a long hard time in big boy prison for Colt.

BUT all that’s only if he gets CAUGHT.

IF, however, Colt holes up, gets in touch with someone to arrange a lawyer (Colt, there are lawyers who will work on this for free; get in touch) and make a deal BEFORE they catch him, the calculations change considerably.

Some media and fanboys play up that Colt’s such a bad ass because he took a shot at the cops. Well, no one’s going to be able to prove that, so all this “Dead or Alive” crap is bullshit. (If Colt is playing with guns, however, this is all going to end very badly for him anyway, either dead or in jail for a long time because of minimum sentencing guidelines… so Colt shouldn’t touch any guns.) As for the possibly 100 other crimes he’s suspected of committing while he’s been on the lam: Maybe there’s slam-dunk proof in a dozen or so.

Here’s the amazing thing: After all this worldwide attention and all the games and all the chases, Colt still has a hand to play. None of the jurisdictions want to waste more money chasing him (except the Feds; they’ll chase him forever no matter what it costs). And a judge should certainly look favorably on a negotiated surrender meant to stop the madness and explain the extenuating circumstances.

Right now, in my opinion, Colt could make a pretty sweet deal that would have him out of prison as a very young man and ready to start his career as a bush pilot with Fly Colt Airways.

Yes, I can remember what it feels like to be 18 and on top of the world — invincible. But you’re not. And luck always runs out. I’ve also witnessed what it does to a person to spend years looking over your shoulder wondering if this was the day they found you. Sure, it’s an exciting, challenging game for awhile, but it gets old fast and then starts to twist your mind. It’s easy for those sitting at home to type “Keep running! Never stop!” You’re providing entertainment and vicarious thrills for them. When you die, shot in someone else’s home or broken in a plane crash, or you’re sitting alone in a cell, they’ll just go back to playing their video games.

When it comes down to this simple math: Get caught and do a dozen hard, or make a deal right now and maybe get out at the same age people graduate college and start living their lives… the answer for Colt seems pretty obvious.