The cops claim Colt has “vaporized,” “vanished,” and “ran like lightning.” When the posse does close in, he allegedly rustles luxury cars, boats, and even planes.
The Latest on Colt
Read breaking news on the search for Colt on Bob Friel's blog, outlawsandoutcasts.
On February 9, 2007, seven months after he'd gone on the run, Island County cops finally corralled Colt when he screwed up and turned on a light in a supposedly vacant home. He surrendered after a short standoff and pled guilty to three of 23 counts of burglary and possession of stolen property. After a year in the max-security Green Hill School, Colt was transferred to the minimum-security Griffin Home, near Seattle, to serve out the rest of his three-year sentence. But around 9 P.M. on April 29, 2008, he decided he'd had enough of confinement and reportedly climbed out a window.
Today, Colt remains at large and getting larger, a suspect in more than 100 crimes, mostly felonies. It's been 20 months since he busted out and began playing Grand Theft Auto: The Reality Version, and he's wanted in five Washington counties Island, Snohomish, San Juan, Whatcom, and Kitsap as well as in Idaho. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police joined the chase when he bolted north of the border this past September, allegedly stealing cars and breaking into homes to scrounge for food. And because they believe he flew across state lines in October in another stolen Cessna, Colt's got the FBI on his tail.
This time, the authorities were chasing a suspect alleged to be the lanky teen near the crash-landing site of a $500,000 Cessna 182 turbo that had been heisted in Idaho, flown back across the Cascades, and somehow set down in one cracked, wracked, and jacked-up piece on a hillside clearing in Granite Falls, Washington. Police marshaled two counties' worth of SWAT in armored personnel carriers, canine units, a sheriff's helicopter, and a Department of Homeland Security Blackhawk. Their search of every outhouse, henhouse, doghouse, and meth house Granite Falls has a rep turned up nothing. Once again, the suspect melted into the Washington woods.
After this latest escape, the media set up all three rings, bringing in the Today show, CNN, CBS, Fox, CBC, and all the Seattle network affiliates and radio talkers to fetishize the fact that Colt had committed some crimes while barefoot, and to sling lazy shorthand references like Catch Me If You Can. The story had already gone viral online, and when it was picked up by print and TV worldwide, the Colton Harris-Moore Fan Club on Facebook was friended from as far away as Ireland, Italy, and Australia. A ballad about Colt showed up on YouTube, and T-shirt sales FLY, COLTON, FLY! and MOMMA TRIED soared.
The law, in particular the sheriff's office of Colt's own Island County, was not, to put it mildly, amused. When he was asked on CBC TV about Colt's Robin Hood hero status, Sheriff Mark Brown's round-and-ruddy face turned a new hue.
"He's certainly not my hero," he said, adding ominously, "I hope that you and I and everybody else, when he does make that fatal mistake, are not responsible for something other than an arrest being made without an incident."
LYING JUST 30 MILES north of Camano and offering some 3,000 ready-to-pluck vacation homes, the San Juan Islands and in particular Orcas, the largest and most heavily wooded of the archipelago became Colt's second-happiest hunting ground. Floating out here in Puget Sound, on America's far western frontier, Orcas collects more than its share of the anti-authority-minded. When about 100 of us gathered around a huge bonfire just before Halloween to drink beer and chow on barbecued venison (called "hillside salmon" when it's out of season), talk naturally turned to Colt. Everyone knew his victims or at least frequented their restaurants and shops. One guy had been hit twice, his store burgled and then his boat allegedly stolen and run aground during another getaway. Between slurred extremes of "I'm glad he's sticking it to the cops" and "Hope he sticks his head in my house, 'cause he'll die of lead poisoning," there was a universal appreciation of Colt's balls and brains.