Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This Saturday night, November 13, CBS 48 Hours Mystery will air a full hour on Colton. This CBS crew worked the story a long time, so I’m hoping for a good show. They spent a lot of time here on Orcas and Camano, and sent crews across the country to cover the events during Colt’s run.

I declined to go on camera with them while they were first on Orcas because Colt was still at large and I felt the press attention was escalating the danger for both him and anyone who might get in his way. Once he was captured, I agreed to do an interview and spoke with them at length back in July in the Bahamas and then did a little bit more interview and some B-roll back here on Orcas a few weeks later.

For those on this site who’ve told me they like the behind-the-scenes stuff, most TV interviews you see like this are done in hotel rooms — and that’s what we did in Nassau. B-roll is the name for the background and atmospheric shots you see usually running behind a voice over as a way to segue between main shots. Often they’ll be sort of silly shots of the correspondent walking awkwardly with the interview subject down a beach, or the interview subject awkwardly making a phone call, or talking (awkwardly) with a co-worker. For this show, they took some shots of me kayaking and walking my dog around the island. I know Murphy will be pissed if his footage is left on the cutting room floor. He could care less if he looks awkward — he just wants some screen time.

As for me… It’s an interesting spot to be in. I spoke on-camera for something over three hours. My on-camera answers to Peter Van Sant’s questions were just what anyone who’s read my posts and comments here would expect: overly long and full of context.

So, as someone who’s always been the interviewer, I’m now in the uncomfortable position of interviewee, wondering how they’ll cut all my verbiage down to a couple minutes of airtime. I’ve taken great pains and lots of words here — as I did on camera —to explain how I do indeed feel empathy for Colton and his very painful history while at the same time I sympathize with his victims and understand the lingering pain and the damage to the trusting lifestyle of my own community and the similar one down on Camano. Whether all that comes across to these seven-or-so million viewers as it has to you, we’ll see.

So, on to the stuff you’re actually interested in: What are you going to learn about Colton and his long, often barefoot, run from the law? There are lots of details that, naturally, I’ve been saving for the book, but because these pesky CBS producers know what they’re doing, some of those will be spilled in this show. Problem is, I’m not sure which ones. I assume, though, that you’ll learn some fascinating details about what Colton carried all the way across the country and to the Bahamas. Yes, you know about the Mac laptop and the pistol and maybe some of the other electronics, but he also carried a few personal papers, photos and drawings that are very telling.

There will be some surprises as to where Colton went and spent time when he wasn’t on Camano or Orcas. They may show how he communicated with people while he was on the run. And hopefully you’ll also get to see how beautiful this part of the world is.

On the other side, you’ll probably get to see Marion and Maxine and Kyle and Pat and Kelly and Scott and Jason and some of the many other alleged victims I’ve met along this trail who bring the story of “the kid who could fly” back to earth and show the real effects.

I’ll wait and see what’s in the show before commenting on anything else. And, by the way, I don’t have a television and will be out at an island potluck during air time. It may take a couple of days before I can see a tape of the show and respond to any comments.

TV and movies do some things better than books and other print, while absolutely nothing beats a book for telling the full story. TV is, obviously, a visual medium, and I’m looking forward to great visuals in this program and hoping for a fair treatment of the story.

Also: Next Monday, the 15th, is the deadline for Federal prosecutors to file their charges against Colt. If it happens on time, you’ll see it in the news. I’ll post some highlights as soon as I digest them. And once again, sorry I’ve been AWOL for so long, but I'm working double time on the book.


  1. Good morning, Bob, thank you for the update.

    With regard to Colton and the communities on Orcas Island and Camano Island, there's a whole lot of difference between these communities and the effect Colton had on them and the effect the respective communities had on him.

    When Colton came to Orcas Island, he was 17 years old, on the run, and trying to survive with very little education and no chance of getting a job. The Orcas community hadn't really experienced much in the way of break-ins and theft, and understandably felt blind-sided by all that, especially without knowing Colton's backstory.

    Regarding Camano Island, Colton lived there from infancy and grew up there in really desperate poverty, neglect, and deprivation. The Camano Island "community" did nothing to help him, and they themselves bear most of the responsibility for what happened. If they had tried to lend a helping hand to an innocent and destitute young child, they could have guided his life in a positive direction. I hope this aspect of his story will be considered by the court.

    About the places Colton may have spent time when he wasn't on Orcas or Camano, do you know if he happened to be on San Juan Island last Christmas Eve? We live out of state and were visiting family on San Juan Island. We happened to be in Lime Kiln State Park around lunchtime on Christmas Eve; we saw a tall teenage boy (who resembled pictures of Colton) walking through the park with a backpack. None of us knew anything about Colton at that time, and have only become aware of the story since about last spring.

    Also, I'm wondering how you and CBS News learned about the personal papers, photos, and drawings Colton may have been carrying. Although we heard about the laptop and Ipod, we haven't seen anything in the news about anything else. We hope somehow he will be able to keep some measure of personal privacy, because everyone needs that.

    This coming Thursday, Veterans Day, it will be four months since he was taken into custody. He has so many positive talents to offer the world, and with the right kind of outcome of the court case, he could get a good education, win his freedom, and use his intelligence and abilities to give back to the community and to those who were adversely affected by anything he may have done.


  2. Looking forward to the show! Thanks for the inside scoop.

  3. Thanks Bob for the update. I'm looking forward to watch the CBS show, but I am unsure that it will paint a truly balanced, non-sensationalist portrait. It is 48 Hours Mystery, after all. I can't wait to read the full story in Bob's book.

    Regarding the personal papers that Colton carried, I have read in different news articles that when he threw the contents of his backpack in the water, police recovered a plastic bag with papers inside, including a Boy Scouts of America certificate...

    Such details are very telling and can help us understand better his story, but I do hope that he gets to keep some privacy. He deserves it. Colton is a thief, not a violent sociopath. I still can't imagine how mortifying it must be to see your whole psychiatric report all over the news. And it seems like Colton is a very private person, as most "loners" are. His complete radio silence, ever since he was arrested, speaks volume in that sense.

    Although I look forward to learn more details about Colt's run from the law, I'm mostly anxious to hear news about his sentencing, and how he's doing right now.

    - Sann

  4. Hi Beth,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments and questions. I've been examining all the aspects you mention. You're right about Orcas: We were blindsided, though interestingly, the island had gone through its own periods of homegrown youth in trouble and, in response, local support organizations sprung up, like the Orcas Funhouse, to mentor and challenge kids.

    Not to say everything here is ideal — we still have at-risk youth and we still have periodic little crime outbreaks, but it is different and more impactful when it hits you from outside.

    The Camano community had a much more complex relationship with Colton. At this point I’ll say that there are some great folks down there, some who helped, some who tried, some with regrets.

    Colton was on San Juan Island at least three times, but I don’t know if that included Christmas Eve.

    The personal papers are not of an intimate nature, but they do speak volumes.

  5. Hi Sann,

    Well, TV does play to the dramatic... though Colt created enough drama throughout this that the story doesn't need to be sensationalized.

    I agree that the release of those reports are very tough, but they've also given some sense of what he went through and I'm sure have engendered many sympathetic takes on his story.

  6. Hi Bob, thanks for the update. As have many, I have followed Colt's story from the beginning. I have mailed him several times in Seatac, but so far with no response.

    I will be interested in watching the news story tonight on 48 Hours, and further, your book when it comes out.

    I am sure, that with the amount of publicity Colton has generated, that in due course the courts will take it all into account when sentencing him and can only hope that said sentence is not too crushing for him to enable him some hope for his release in due course.

    Almost any young person who has had a deprived upbringing deserves another chance, and while not forgetting those he victimized, lets not forget that he himself is a victim, of his poor upbringing and environment.

    It must be hard for him to have his whole life dragged through the world media and laid bare. But everything has a positive, and I am a firm believer that some good will eventually come out of it all. Will keep looking forward to your updates Bob.

  7. I haven't heard much about this on the news in my part of the country yet but I see via several online sources based in Seattle that Colt was indicted Wednesday on five federal counts. I may well not have been paying attention but in case anyone else missed it, the charges include:

    Interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft for the September 2009 theft and transportation of a stolen Cessna aircraft from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, to near Granite Falls, Washington.

    Interstate and foreign transportation of a stolen firearm, a .32 caliber pistol. HARRIS-MOORE (allegedly) stole in Canada, and carried with him into Idaho, and on the stolen plane he flew to the Granite Falls area.

    Being a fugitive in possession of a firearm, a .22 caliber pistol while he was a fugitive between October 1, 2009, and May 6, 2010.

    Piloting an aircraft without a valid airman's certificate, specifically a flight he made in a stolen plane from Anacortes to Eastsound, Washington, on February 10, 2010.

    And interstate transportation of a 34 foot boat he stole from Ilwaco, Washington, and sailed to Oregon on May 31, 2010.

    His arraignment apparently is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 18.

    Bob, any thoughts on what this means and what happens next?

  8. Any idea of how someone outside USA could watch it? But I would be happy enough only with your book!

    Bob, can I ask you a question? A long time ago, I read that Colt's mother said his dream was to built a animal shelter or something (I remember they actually used the world 'dream'). There was another one, of a veterinary clinic that received a donation from Colt, with a note. So, that truly happened? Is Colt a animal lover?

    Thank you!

  9. It will be on their website: Go to CBSnews.com and look for 48 Hours Mystery. I don't know how soon they'll post it, but I imagine it will just take a day or two.
    Colt's mom and aunt both say he liked animals from a very early age. The animal shelter stories come from his mom, who says that an animal shelter would be Colt's wish and helping abused or neglected animals is something he cares about.
    When Colt left Orcas Island this spring and started off on his long cross-country run, he stopped by a veterinary clinic on the Olympic Penninsula and left a $100 bill and a note saying it was to help animals. He signed the note, adding: A.K.A. The Barefoot Bandit.

  10. Bob....Do you think the community effort, town meeting, rewards, and the bounty hunters efforts and the media blitz from the 50k and 10k that drove him from the Island or was it other reasons?

    I have lived in the Islands for years and our family was a victim of this kid......Why flee so sudden......I would like to think that we banned togeather and made him feel unwelcomed.....It angers me he was take from his community....

  11. Sorry to hear that your family became victims.

    Things became very hot for Colton here in the islands, both on Orcas and Camano, with the public efforts you mention along with an increasing number of undercover operations and high-tech stakeouts.

    I have no doubt that all of that was a big part of the reason he left the area.

  12. In a comment posted here, Ryan said he has sent mail to Colton several times, but hasn't received a response.
    Is Colton actually receiving mail sent to him, or are prison authorities withholding it from him so he won't know how many people care about him?
    Prisons crush the spirit of an inmate, but mail from people who care can keep that from happening.
    When Colton appears in court on November 18 for the arraignment, caring observers should compare his demeanor that day with his demeanor in his court appearances in July, to see what prison may be doing to him.
    Solitary confinement for the last four months would clearly have negative effects on even the strongest spirit. It's not a normal way for a human being to have to live, without even the chance to see the sun or the sky or talk to a friend.
    We as a society have a moral obligation to provide better living conditions for a non-violent 19-year-old who hasn't been convicted of any adult crime.
    A society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members, and Colton has been one of this country's most vulnerable citizens since he was an infant. He's never has a real chance in life.
    We as Americans owe him a real chance now, by giving him decent living conditions and a truly fair trial, but it's unlikely he will be treated fairly or decently at all or have any chance for real justice.

  13. I watched 48 hours (thanks for the heads up on its airing). I have felt, since the beginning that Colt is just a really troubled (extremely smart) boy who sadly wasn't ever loved. It breaks my heart. I just wanted to say that in my opinion 48 hours did nothing to try and vilify Colt more....I think that if anything, people that sat down to watch it thinking he was a vicious criminal would have come away with a bit of a different perspective.
    I have teen boys and LOVE goes a long way...It's a sad story all around.
    I SO look forward to your book Bob and I love your blog!

  14. I agree with the comment below. Solitary confinement can have devastating effects, even on a very resilient boy like Colton. I sent him a book and a few letters but haven't received any answer either. And judging by the posts on his Facebook fan pages, I don't think any of his supporters have heard from him either. Maybe he's just not in the mood to talk – he certainly wants the "camera out of his face", and is perhaps confused by all the fan mail, media requests, etc. But I do wonder if the prison authorities deliver all his mail.

    Since a pre-trial inmate is only allowed visits from immediate family (mother/father/spouse/siblings), and his mom hasn't visited him yet, I'm pretty certain that the only people that Colton have had contact with in the last 4 months are correctional officers and his lawyers. And I find this to be a very sad and worrying situation.

    On another note, these sketches he carried in his backpack, the ones he made for his imaginary/future airline, Phoenix Aerospace, are pretty amazing.

  15. Bob, nice job on 48 Hours! Do you know why Colton and his mom have not seen each other since the arrest?

  16. As long as the guidelines are followed, Colt gets his mail. Obviously it's up to him to write back or not -- and it's up to him to see his family or not.

  17. So does that mean that he just simply chooses not to see his mom?, Or she just doesn't care enough to go visit him?

  18. Everett Herald reporter Jackson Holtz had a conversation with Colton's mother specifically about this topic and wrote an enlightening piece. You can find it at the Herald's site at: