|Published:||Jul 13, 2010 11:53 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 13, 2010 8:54 AM EDT|
CAMANO ISLAND, Wash. (AP) - Residents of the rural island where
the "Barefoot Bandit" first learned to dodge police through thick
ferns and cedar trees are lashing out at the teen's mother, saying
it wouldn't be right for her to profit off a two-year crime spree
that has finally landed him in a Bahamian jail.
Authorities and victims of Colton Harris-Moore, 19, have long
suggested that his mother is at least partly to blame for his
alleged behavior - breaking into unoccupied vacation homes and
using credit cards that weren't his, stealing cash, cars, boats and
even five airplanes. His first conviction for stolen property came
at age 12.
But recent word that she has hired a well-known Seattle
entertainment and intellectual property lawyer who has represented
the likes of Courtney Love and the father of Jimi Hendrix drew
widespread derision here. Many residents assume she's trying to
profit from her son's crimes through movies or books.
"Of course she wants the money. She doesn't work," said Joshua
Flickner, whose family owns a grocery store on Camano Island.
"What makes me more angry than the fact that she's trying to
profit off this is that there's any profit to be had. There
shouldn't be a profit - he's a criminal. He's damaged people -
average people, middle-class people."
Harris-Moore was due in court Tuesday in Nassau on suspicion of
illegal weapons possession and what officials described as a
"litany" of other charges stemming from his week in the Bahamas.
Having apparently made his way across the U.S. in a series of
stolen vehicles, he arrived in the Bahamas on July 4 in a plane
taken from an Indiana airport. He was captured early Sunday after a
high-speed boat chase during which police shot out his motor.
Prosecutors in the U.S. are also preparing cases against him. He
is suspected in about 70 property crimes across eight states and
British Columbia, many of them in the bucolic islands of Washington
Harris-Moore's mother, Pam Kohler, lives in the trailer where
she raised him on Camano Island. It sits deep in thick woods, down
a long gravel drive past a spraypainted sign warning trespassers
that they'll be shot. She did not return a call seeking comment,
but issued a statement through her lawyer.
"I am very relieved that Colt is now safe and that no one was
hurt during his capture," it said. "I have not yet been able to
speak to him. It has been over two-and-a-half years since I have
seen him, and I miss him terribly."
Harris-Moore spent Monday being questioned by investigators.
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade described him as eloquent,
calm, cooperative and "obviously a very intelligent young man,"
but declined to say whether he made any confession.
Greenslade said the defendant could be extradited to the U.S.
relatively quickly, but declined to comment further on the handling
of the case.
Kohler spent several hours Monday meeting with her attorney, O.
Yale Lewis, who downplayed any profit motive his new client might
have. He said she contacted him for advice after being inundated by
requests from news reporters as well as inquiries about book and
"Her feelings are relief and exhaustion," Lewis said.
"Obviously, there is enormous interest in this story, and she
wants to be careful about how to proceed. But her first concern has
been to make sure her son is safe, and I think she hasn't given
much thought beyond that."
Kohler's older sister, Sandra Puttmann, of Arlington, was the
first relative to hear from Harris-Moore after his arrest Sunday.
She said he's "holding up" but scared now that he's in custody
for the first time since he walked away from a halfway house south
of Seattle and began his two-year theft spree. Harris-Moore didn't
have his mother's phone number, she said.
She gave it to him, but as of Monday night, he still had not
spoken with Kohler.
"I'm so glad he got through to me," Puttmann said. "At least
he heard a friendly voice. We cried together."
Puttmann declined to divulge further details of what she
described as their brief phone conversation Sunday. But she angrily
criticized news stories about her nephew, saying reporters
typically gloss over his difficult upbringing.
Police routinely accused him of stealing even when he hadn't and
school officials didn't give him a chance, she alleged - something
police and school officials have adamantly denied.
Harris-Moore told a psychologist in 2008 that his mother was
abusive when she'd been drinking, according to a court document
cited Monday by The Herald newspaper of Everett. His father left
when he was a toddler, and his stepfather died when he was 7,
Kohler has said.
"The boy needs help, and he's still just a boy - even if he's
19," Puttmann said. "You have to assume something made him go
bad. ... Why don't you go into detail on that?"
Other Camano residents had little sympathy.
"There's a lot of relief throughout the community," said real
estate agent Mark Williams. "I think the man's luck just wore out.
You run through the woods long enough, you're going to trip over a
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