March 22, 1991 |
Mount Vernon, Washington, U.S.
|Other names||"Barefoot Bandit"
(aliases) Colton A. Harris, Colton A. Harris-Molton, Colton Harris, Colton Moore, Colton A. Moore, Colton Koehler
|Height||6 ft 5 in (196 cm)|
|Weight||205 lb (93 kg)|
|Criminal charge||Interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, interstate and foreign transport of a stolen gun and interstate transport of a stolen boat, bank burglary, flying a plane without a pilot's license, attempting to elude, being a fugitive in possession of a gun, burglary, identity theft, illegal entry, illegally landing a plane, malicious mischief, motor vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, theft by unlawful taking or disposition|
|Criminal status||Pled guilty to state and federal charges, sentenced in Jan. 2012 to 6 and a half years on federal charges, sentenced in Dec. 2011 to a concurrent term of over seven years for the state charges.|
Pamela A. Kohler (nee Harris)
Colton Harris-Moore (born March 22, 1991) is an American criminal and former fugitive from Camano Island, Washington. He was charged with the thefts or destruction of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and property, including a small aircraft, a boat, and two cars; and the burglaries of at least 100 private residences in various locations around the Pacific Northwest of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada, all committed while still a teenager.
He fled to the Bahamas on July 4, 2010, allegedly in a plane stolen from Bloomington, Indiana. He was indicted on July 6, 2010, by a U.S. Federal Court in Seattle, Washington, on charges of transporting another stolen aircraft in that state. Harris-Moore, still only 19, was arrested in Harbour Island, Bahamas, on July 11, 2010, after police shot out the engine of the boat in which he was attempting to flee. Two days later, he was extradited from Nassau, Bahamas, to Miami, Florida, and transferred on July 21 to the Federal Detention Center, SeaTac in Washington. On December 16, 2011, Harris-Moore was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for dozens of consolidated charges brought against him from three different counties. On January 27, 2012, he was sentenced to six and a half years for related federal crimes.
He became known as the "Barefoot Bandit" by reportedly committing some of his crimes barefoot, once leaving behind 39 chalk footprints and the word "c'ya!". Despite the widely reported nickname, officials said that he more often wore shoes.
Harris-Moore was born in Mount Vernon, Washington and grew up in his mother's house in Camano Island. Neighbors said they made several calls to Child Protective Services, believing he was neglected or abused. His father, Gordon Moore, used drugs and was in prison while Colton was a toddler. When Colton was twelve years old, his abusive father walked out after attempting to strangle him during an argument at a family barbecue. According to his mother, Pamela Kohler, his stepfather died when he was about seven years old, and from the time Colton was in the first grade, she knew there was "something off about him" – "sort of a disconnection". He wouldn't listen to his teachers, started altercations at school, and would sometimes deliberately break things around the house, Kohler said. According to a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, Harris-Moore said that his mother drank and became mean, breaking his possessions.
He started living in the wild at the age of seven, and would break into vacation homes in the area, stealing blankets, food and water before disappearing into the forest for days. His first conviction for stolen property came at age 12, and by the time he was 13, he had three more. He has been diagnosed with depression, attention deficit disorder and intermittent explosive disorder. Each conviction brought a 10-day stay in a detention center, or community service. His mother once said, "Every time he had anything any good, everyone thought he stole it. What does that do to a kid?" In 2003, police found a neighbor's camcorder in his home. Never before sentenced to more than a month, he fled a three-year sentence by walking out of a halfway house in April 2008.
Harris-Moore is suspected of being responsible for approximately 100 thefts in Washington, Idaho, and Canada, including bicycles, automobiles, light aircraft, and speedboats. It is believed that he learned how to fly small planes by reading aircraft manuals, handbooks, watching a "How to fly a small airplane" DVD, and playing flight simulator computer games. One plane he stole was a Cessna 182, FAA registration number N2183P, belonging to KZOK-FM radio personality Bob Rivers, valued at over $250,000. The plane was later recovered from a Yakima Indian Reservation crash site. Though badly damaged, it was rebuilt and eventually offered for sale on eBay in February 2015.
According to local sheriffs, he would often slip into a home just to soak in a hot bath or steal ice cream from the freezer. While his thefts would escalate to increasing value in cash and property, he initially would steal only what he needed for living in the woods as a survivalist. Once, he allegedly used a homeowner's computer and credit card to order bear mace and a pair of $6,500 night vision goggles.
Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals— Colton Harris-Moore, (AKA: "The Barefoot Bandit"), Camano Island, WA.
In late June 2010, Harris-Moore was suspected of vehicle thefts stretching as far east as Illinois. The trail of suspected thefts attributed to him passes through Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Police found a 2008 white Toyota Sequoia in Norfolk, Nebraska, which was reported stolen in Yankton, South Dakota. Later that day, several burglaries were reported at Karl Stefan Memorial Airport, located 1 mile (2 km) south of where the SUV was abandoned. A truck owned by the town of Ottumwa, Iowa, was later recovered in Dallas City, Illinois. On July 4, 2010, a Cessna 400 single-engine plane was reported stolen from the Bloomington, Indiana, airport. It was later found crashed in the shoreline waters of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas, again leading to speculation that Harris-Moore was responsible. Shortly afterward, there were several break-ins reported across the island. The Royal Bahamas Police Force placed wanted posters across the island that featured the teenager. One bartender claimed to have spotted him in a sports bar on Tuesday, July 6, 2010, stating that he drank a beer and left after five minutes. He says that Harris-Moore was wearing a cap over his shaved head and was barefoot.
On July 6, 2010, an indictment was released from a federal judge of the U.S. District Court of Western Washington, which was originally filed in December 2009. This indictment cites Harris-Moore for interstate transport of stolen property/airplane theft, related to a plane stolen from Bonners Ferry, Idaho that crashed outside of Granite Falls, Washington. The FBI placed a $10,000 bounty for information leading to his arrest, and federal agents believed that he was responsible for the recent Indiana theft.
On July 11, 2010, Harris-Moore was captured just before dawn at Harbour Island, Bahamas. Local officers picked up his trail in Eleuthera after recovering a 44-foot (13-meter) power boat stolen from a marina on Great Abaco. A police official said the suspect attempted to flee, but police shot out the engine on his stolen boat. Before being arrested, Harris-Moore threw his portable computer into the water and put a gun to his head, but the police talked him out of killing himself. He told the police that he intended to go to Cuba to throw authorities off his trail and proceed to the Turks and Caicos Islands. His mother had hoped that he would flee to a country that did not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
In March 2011, FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt confirmed the reward fund payout: "The $10,000 bounty money was paid out to people directly involved in (Harris-Moore's) capture." The reward money was split among Jordan Sackett, Capt. Ronald Billiot, Capt. Patrick Young, Capt. Ben Johnson and Kenny Strachan, a security guard at the Romora Bay Resort.
Harris-Moore pleaded guilty on July 13, 2010, to illegal entry to the Bahamas and illegally landing a plane. He was sentenced to three months in jail or a $300 fine. Harris-Moore's mother wired the money to the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, which in turn paid the fine. He was deported the same day via overnight commercial flight, accompanied by Bahamian authorities and United States agents of the FBI to Miami, Florida. On July 14, Harris-Moore appeared before U.S. Magistrate Robert Dube to determine his legal representation, which had been hired on his behalf by his mother.
In a hearing on July 16, 2010, in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida, Judge Dube ruled that Harris-Moore would be sent to Washington state to face charges there first because he was arrested under their warrant. Harris-Moore waived his right to an extradition hearing. He was held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami until July 21, when he was transferred by the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington. He was required to wear handcuffs and leg irons while being transported to Washington. A federal judge at the U.S. District Court of Western Washington in Seattle set a November 15 deadline for prosecutors to have Harris-Moore formally indicted by a federal grand jury. However, Harris-Moore waived his right to a speedy trial, permitting both the defense and the prosecution more time to prepare for the case. On November 18, 2010, Harris-Moore pleaded not guilty in federal court to charges of interstate transportation of a stolen plane, boat and gun, and of being a fugitive in possession of a firearm and of flying a plane without a pilot's license.
On September 30, 2010, Harley Davidson Ironwing, a self-described associate of Harris-Moore's burglaries, pled guilty to assault and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
On June 17, 2011, federal prosecutors recommended that Harris-Moore be sentenced to six years in prison. Harris-Moore pleaded guilty to all seven counts on the federal indictment. The Washington State Court, however, recommended that he be sentenced to 10 years in prison for a break-in and burglary near Granite Falls, Washington.
At sentencing, prosecutors were expected to ask for a term of 9½ years, while Harris-Moore's attorneys, John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan, were expected to ask for a 6 year term, citing psychiatric and mitigation reports describing his bleak childhood.
On December 16, 2011, Harris-Moore was sentenced in Island County court to more than seven years in prison. Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill stated, "This case is a tragedy in many ways, but it's a triumph of the human spirit in other ways." Describing Harris-Moore's childhood as a "mind numbing absence of hope," she stated the 20-year-old was genuinely remorseful for his crimes. Harris-Moore has said that he plans to spend his time in prison studying in preparation for applying to college in order to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering.
On January 27, 2012, Judge Richard Jones of Federal District Court in Seattle sentenced Harris-Moore to six and a half years in prison for his infamous, international crime spree. During sentencing, Harris-Moore addressed the court and U.S. Judge Richard Jones saying that it is "no stretch of the imagination to say that I'm lucky to be alive." His federal sentence will be served jointly with state prison time.
Harris-Moore became known as the "Barefoot Bandit" or as the "Barefoot Burglar", by reportedly committing some of his crimes while barefoot. In Fall 2009, police found footprints at an airport hangar in Bonners Ferry, Idaho; a Cessna 182 stolen from there crash-landed approximately 260 miles (420 km) to the west near Granite Falls, Washington, after a few unsuccessful attempts to land at the small airport there. Police in the San Juan Islands also found cartoonish, chalk outlines of feet drawn upon the floor of a grocery store that was broken into in February 2010. Harris-Moore became an internet sensation with a Facebook fan page drawing about 60,000 members. A local Seattle man started selling T-shirts bearing Harris-Moore's picture with the words "Momma Tried". Local people from Camano Island also attempted to vent their frustrations through a song, as well as a blog which included the sale of merchandise and accepted donations to purchase the services of a bounty hunter.
In April 2010, 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights to the book Taking Flight: The Hunt for a Young Outlaw, based on a proposal by Bob Friel. Harris-Moore's mother has retained celebrity lawyer Yale Lewis to seek control of entertainment interests related to her son. She has also hired John Henry Browne to handle her son's criminal defense. Under a plea deal, Harris-Moore agreed to forfeit any profits from selling publishing rights to his story.
The Barefoot Bandit Documentary (which premiered at Friday Harbor Film Festival on November 7, 2014, filmmaker Carly Bodmer) explores the childhood and time that Harris-Moore spent evading the law. Pam Kohler (Colton's mother), the FBI, lawyer John Henry Browne, and a range of personalities from Harris-Moore's hometown to the Bahamas piece together why he did what he did.
A 2014 Canadian documentary about Harris-Moore called Fly Colt Fly: Legend of the Barefoot Bandit was made by brothers Adam and Andrew Gray, showing how the mythic story evolved in the media and how Harris-Moore became a 21st century outlaw folk hero.
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<ref>tag; name "July_16_hearing" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
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- Letter from Pamela A. Kohler, mother of Colton Harris-Moore – filed with Island County, Washington Court (June 27, 2007) (Archive)
- Letter from Sandra E. Puttnam, aunt of Colton Harris-Moore – filed with Island County, Washington Court (June 27, 2007) (Archive)
- Official site for Fly Colt Fly: Legend of the Barefoot Bandit documentary
- Bob and the Barefoot Bandit - Snap Judgment #518, "Desperate Measures" (Audio story)
- THE BAREFOOT BANDIT: The True Tale of Colton Harris-Moore, New American Outlaw by Bob Friel (Book)