Monday, July 26, 2010



The Seattle Times is the first I know of to put up video interviews with some of the people involved in Colton’s chase and capture in the Bahamas. At least one TV newsmagazine and a documentarian also taped interviews with the players in the days after the arrest, so expect to see those in time.

Since I was working on the book and didn’t want to seem like the vanguard of a media invasion when I got there the morning of Colt’s capture, I didn’t whip out my video camera. So this is definitely worth a look, especially to see Kenneth Strachan — a real good guy — tell his story. “Oh, that’s Bandit!”

I don't think Kenneth had slept a wink between the 3 a.m. capture and when I saw him several hours later, he was so excited. He's the man most responsible for "Bandit"s arrest, but listen to him talk about 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore at the end of the interview.

Seattle Times Colt Capture Video Interviews

P.S.: There are now a couple versions of exactly when Colton put the gun to his head -- right away or after the police firing -- but I’ll have that fact straightened in upcoming interviews.


  1. That guy was real cool! I like what he said at the end of the interview about Colt. I am not so sure Colton said, "shoot me now, I don't wanna go back", as the other person had suggested. Oh, if all the Bahamian peep are like Kenneth, I may have to pay a visit.

  2. Go to the Bahamian Out Islands -- many of the friendliest, most welcoming people you'll ever meet. Eleuthera (including Harbour Island), the Abacos, Andros, Cat Island, Long Island, Exumas... all wonderful.

  3. That was an interesting clip and I like what Kenneth said at the end.

    Wow, what a beautiful place. Hope Colton got a few hours relaxing under a coconut tree on the beach before it all came to an end.

  4. Where Colton landed on Eleuthera (after leaving the Abacos) is an absolutely stunning white beach with incredible aquamarine water. He was in that area for a few days.
    I don't think I have that particular beach on my photo site (I'll post a shot when I get a chance), but if you go to and just let the initial slideshow play on the home page, you'll see probably a dozen shots that come from the Abacos and Eleuthera. There is also a Bahamas Out Island Gallery that has many Abacos and Eleuthera shots.

  5. From this video—and the article that went along with it in the Seattle Times—it’s interesting to hear some things Colton purportedly said the night he was caught…

    At one point he says he’s bored and wants the police to come after him in the boat? All along I’ve been visualizing him as a scared kid running from a scary past in hopes that he could find a place to forget it all and start over, just as Strachan saw that he isn’t a bad guy. Despite the reports that police could hear him laughing at them as he ran, despite the chalk footprints at the store on Orcas Island, he mostly seemed focused on surviving and ultimately getting away from the Pacific Northwest area as it closed in on him. Was he really just doing all of this for the thrill of it?

    On the other hand, his comment that he didn’t want to go back to jail and that the police should have just killed him suggest that he was serious. I’ve been thinking about how Colton is feeling as he sits in his cell. Maybe he’s relieved that he doesn’t have to run any more but I’ve also got to believe that things look pretty gloomy at the moment. For someone who’s been roaming free—more or less—and setting his own schedule for years, the confinement must be suffocating.

    I can’t imagine that Colt’s anything less than terrified about his future. For a kid, especially a kid who seems to have trouble relating the present to the future, even a few years in prison must seem almost impossible to survive. I read in the FDC SeaTac ‘instruction manual’ for prisoners that anyone doing time there who has not yet got a high school diploma is required to work toward a GED while in jail. If that happens, maybe it’ll help motivate him but he doesn’t seem like a book learner so much as a hands-on project guy. Hopefully he’ll end up with a sentence short enough not to beat him down completely.

  6. Anyone interested enough in the truth of this story to read the book I'm working on is going to have to come on a journey... or maybe better, a roller coaster. Try to pigeonhole Colton because of one episode or comment and he'll totally surprise you with the next.

    I just listened to the tape I made the morning of his capture, and in talking to all the eyewitnesses, I can hear myself going "okay, that sounds like Colt" to some things/events/quotes, and reacting with a "What?!!!" to others. And this was after I thought I'd heard more than enough surprising Colton quotes and anecdotes to fill a book.

    What I can say right now is that there is even more to all those Harbour Island stories that will surprise you.

    And re Colton in prison: He's proven again and again that he is nothing if not resilient and resourceful. I do fervently hope that he takes every opportunity available to help himself, including education.

    And re the book learnin': You'll be surprised about that as well. Colt seems to do very well in what he chooses to learn via books (and I'm not talking about flying).

  7. To Anonymous (July 28 10:51), you raise some very interesting questions. It is true that some reports makes one wonder, "Was he really just doing all of this for the thrill of it?"

    Personally, I tend to believe that while he was on the run, fear and loneliness were the main emotions he felt; but I also believe there were some fleeting moments of true elation – upon taking flight, of course, and upon every escape, every close call. He said he was very confused about his fame, but I mean, he's 19 years old. People wear t-shirts with his face on it. How could he not laugh, feel some kind of pride through the shame. I don't know. But I don't think he did it just for "the thrill of the chase", though it probably played some part – giving him a jolt of energy when exhaustion kicked in, or something like that - and in a strange way, this thought comforts me.

    I still condemn what he has done, of course it is wrong to steal. But at this point, I have stopped asking myself why I feel so heartbroken by Colton's story; I simply am. I too have read the SeaTac instruction manual, and can't help imagining how suffocating it must feel in there, for him and for thousands of young people like him. But so far, he has indeed shown remarkable resilience.

    I'm looking forward to read your book, Mr. Friel! Is it too soon to give us a ballpark idea of the release date?

  8. I was reading on line that Colton's attorney said that Colt was not interested in telling his story for the intents of making a movie or getting a book deal. That in itself tells me alot about the kid. Although Colton would probably never recieve any proceeds anyhow. Bob, I posted earlier on this particular blog about visting the Bahamas and you suggestedthe out islands. I think I am going to spend February there at the island of Abacos. Tell me, are there plentiful spots for libations and I also a great boat enthusiast, thanks......

  9. Take everything any lawyer says in the context of his client's entire situation. This, again, is all very complex. Again, though, Colton has maintained (independent of this situation) that he would not tell his story.

    The Abacos are one of the top three boating destination in the entire Caribbean (and yes, for all the geography majors, I know that the Bahamas are not actually in the Caribbean, but in spirit they are). Island-hoppers paradise, with Elbow (site of Hope Town), Guana (site of Nippers, one of the worlds great beach bars), Green Turtle Cay, etc, etc. Great diving, great boating, great fishing...

    Great Abaco is the main island and has resorts, marinas, terrific restaurants like Curly Tails, and awesome bonefishing on the west side of the island.

    Go to and read Blood, Sweat and Beers. Somewhere on the site is also an older story about chartering a powerboat around the Abacos.

  10. I absolutely love your blog...must say that first and foremost. And I can't wait for the book! Just curious, he says he doesnt like the attention and all. I'm wondering what he thinks of his "fan" mail. I'm actually wondering if I should write. Not as a fan. I guess I just feel for the kid. He's the same age as my brothers and kind of reminds me of them in some ways.

  11. Thank you.

    The closest things to fan mail that Colton received before now were the postings on his two Facebook pages. He did read those and, according to people he spoke to at the time, reacted differently -- some he thought were funny, others ridiculous. But he kept reading them.

    I think well-reasoned letters showing some empathy for him as a teenager (not blind "Hey Colt, break out of prison!" fan mail to a criminal) might help him as he faces an uncertain future. I don't know at this point what kind of volume of mail he's getting, but i'm sure he's reading as much of it as he can.

  12. awww i love how your responses in the comments section are about as long as your posts! and i loved your article in outside magazine. anyways, do you know if colt's mom or aunt has gone to visit him? or if anyone has besides his lawyer?

  13. Yes, I guess I'm not too good at that whole "generating traffic" thing since a lot of my responses could be entire posts.

    From what I have heard, as of yesterday Colt's mom had not yet visited the detention center. I don't know about other family members.

  14. It is sad to hear that the mom that seemed to be encouraging him to run can't take the time to see him. It just goes to show you a little insight on his up bringing. He was probably out there doing some of what he did to please his mother in some way. Truley, I feel for the boy. If he had been raised differently I don't think he would have done these things. In past interviews of fellow class mates they said he was a bully. It's the ones that get bullied that become the bullys.

    Bob, I too look forward to your book.

  15. Just to be absolutely fair to everyone involved: I do not know if Colton's mom has, in fact, been cleared yet to visit him. There is a Federal process, forms, approvals, etc. There are also specific visiting days and hours depending on where in the prison an inmate is being held and/or his inmate number (odd and even days).

    It was sad, though, to hear that she somehow missed the ride Colton's lawyer had offered her to his first court appearance in Seattle.

    The psychology of childhood development is infinitely fascinating (as I'm finding out more and more each day as I delve deeper into it). We are both fragile and yet amazingly resilient.

    I'll have quite a bit in the book on the bullied versus bullying as it relates to Colt.

  16. If anyone would like to mail Colton. Here is his mailing address...

    SeaTac FDC
    Colton Harris-Moore
    # 83421-004
    PO Box 13900
    Seattle, WA. 98198

  17. Does anyone know the quality of the facility Colton is staying at, or what the other inmates have been convicted for? Kenneth and many others have mentioned how Colton is not violent, but really just misguided. It would seem to me that rehabilitating him among other individuals who have been convicted for far more serious crimes is counter-intuitive. Also, is Colton able to respond to people who write to him, or is there some kind of limit on outside communication?
    I Look forward to reading your book, Bob. I trust that this is more than just a passing story to you and will influence the truth of what Colton has been through. I hope that through such a hard time, his story can help others in similar position, or even become an inspiration to them. Would you say that is some of the passion behind your wanting to tell this story?

  18. I haven't been inside FDC Seatac, but I've been inside detention centers in other states. They're certainly not the Ritz, but in general they're considered better than State prisons. I believe that up until now Colton has been kept in protective custody, so he's been safe. That does limit his access to the telephone and recreation time, though.

    These days with the States all in deep budget problems, it would probably be in Colton's best interest -- if he's found guilty -- to be sentenced to a Federal prison. (Remember he hasn't been sentenced to anything yet -- other than the time remaining on his juvenile charges in WA).

    The prison systems segregate prisoners by security level, but that doesn't mean Colton won't wind up being surrounded by "hardened" career criminals. His defense attorney would certainly make a try for the lowest level of security prison part of any plea deal.

    The so-called "country club" prisons are minimum security Federal facilities that primarily hold white-collar criminals. Good libraries and other opportunities. Colton's non-violence is in his favor; his long list of suspected felony burglaries and interstate crime is not.

    No, this is not just a passing story. Early on Colton became, to me, emblematic of his generation of America's "lost boys," kids who through various reasons become lost to society, or let's say lost as productive members of society.

    The more I learned about him and everything surrounding his case, the more I realized that, yes, this is a very instructive story. There are many many Coltons out there and, just on a practical nuts-and-bolts level, it does society no good to let them get to the point where they're burning up so many resources and causing so much trouble. Studies show that it is much cheaper (and obviously much better for the kids and for our communities) to reach out to them when their energies can be channelled into non-destructive ways.

    Hopefully people will see what a waste it is and a tragedy for a bright (and from so many accounts, "good-hearted" kid) to wind up where Colton is now. I'm looking at stories where one person comes into a rough life like this -- be it a relative, a coach, a social worker, a mentor -- and totally changes the outcome of that young person's life.

    It's tough to use the word "inspiring" in this case at this moment. Colt did turn out to be a criminal and do quite a bit of damage, and that's not the inspiration I want young people to see. His resilience is inspiring, though, and the best of all outcomes would be to see him serve his debt and then become a true inspiration by rising above everything and having a great life.

  19. "it does society no good to let them get to the point where they're burning up so many resources and causing so much trouble. Studies show that it is much cheaper (and obviously much better for the kids and for our communities) to reach out to them when their energies can be channelled (sic)into non-destructive ways."

    Well what more can society do Bob? We are already bankrupting our country with countless social programs and bureaucracy. I don't think Colton fell through the cracks. I think his mom and ultra powerful DSHS unions didn't give a hoot. But we can't fire either one of them. Society is fine... People failing to do their jobs is the problem.

  20. Since we pay taxes to support our various social systems, we need to make sure we're getting what we pay for: that they work efficiently -- and work period. If they don't, we need to wake somebody up by calling attention to it.

    Potential cracks in any one system are just a small part of this story, though I'm finding there are many lessons to be learned along the way by tracing Colton's life. You mention "people failing to do their jobs," and absolutely much of this comes down to individual responsibility.

    And, actually, yes: As part of our social system we have indeed given the government (us) the power to "fire" parents.

  21. I hope for Coltons sake (and mental health) he does "fire" his mom. MY mom has offered to adopt him. If he accepts--i hope he likes eating! Big Italian family...he kept in contact with his mom while he was on the run, but I'm wondering why? If things were so bad growing up, why not just cut her out of his life? Or is it just the fact that she's really the only family that was a constant in his life?

  22. He does LOVE pizza... so I'm sure he'd like some real Italian food.

  23. Mrs. Kohler may not win awards for Mother of the Year, and it definitely appears that she's been a huge factor in Colton's troubles, but she is still his mom; that's a powerful emotional bond, one most people can't easily break. He seems to have a decent relationship with his aunt but that still may not be enough to allow him to cut his own mother out of his life.

    The natural parent-child bond is something that makes it hard for child welfare agencies to break up families, even when it's obviously a good move. That decision is (or at least should be) very carefully considered...every time.

  24. "Early on Colton became, to me, emblematic of his generation of America's 'lost boys,' kids who through various reasons become lost to society, or let's say lost as productive members of society."

    Bob, I think boys in our society have been becoming 'lost' for years, more than just Colton's generation. Two psychologists you may want to look up for your research, if you haven't already, are William Pollack and James Garbarino. Dr. Pollack is a leading national expert in the psychology of boys in our culture and Dr. Garbarino is an expert in the psychology of criminal behavior in children.

    As an aside, girls are committing crimes at a rate that's catching up to the boys and this should not be overlooked. However, girls and boys respond differently to life stressors and so it is appropriately to address these issues separately.

    Bob, thank you for doing this important work.

  25. Thank you. Yes, I've looked at their work. It's fascinating material that I'll be quoting in the book, and I hope to arrange interviews with them to get direct takes on Colton's case.

    And yes, being "lost" goes way back -- I presume to the beginning of society. I wrote that Colton is emblamatic of his generation's lost boys... not that his is the first generation to have some of its members go off the reservation or get left behind.

  26. I know Colton likes animals. Which ones?
    Does he like cats or dogs better?

  27. Colton grew up taking care of chickens and even a goat, but he seemed to enjoy being around dogs the most. He had a Great Pyrenees named Cody, and now his beagle Melanie.

  28. Hi Bob June here, I also love Animals and anyone who loves animals is a good person, Colton, will be okay I hope he makes up with his mom again, and maybe Dr Phil can have Colton on his show with his mom to help sort out their troubles, I hope he gets his pilots licence, and finds somewhere to live, and earns some money flying, or teaching people to fly Good luck Coulton God loves you to. June