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.
Pam brings out an art project Colt did while in detention. It's a psychologist's wet dream of a collage, packed with luxury brand names and images of Rolexes, cruise ships, smartphones, gold bars, credit cards, and, most prominently, a private jet. One snipped quote reads: MAKE MONEY NOT MISTAKES.
Pam says she was never able to control Colt. "He always did just what he wanted," she says. "Like now with him running from the cops; he's doing it because he likes to see if he can. He thinks it's easy...and he's sure making them look like fools." Pam says Colt calls her from the road and they get along fine now, talking for hours about everything and laughing a lot. "When he was younger, though, we fought about everything...you name it." And after Bill died, she says, everything got worse. I ask her about the medications they put Colt on to manage his behavior. "A psychiatrist had him on something," she says, "then wanted to keep raising the dose and trying different things. One day, Colt came over to me in the yard and sat down and he would hardly ever sit down and he just hung his head. God, he was so depressed. So I said he's not going to be used as a guinea pig, and I took him off the drugs and stopped taking him to that doctor."
Colt grew up with the roar of low-flying jets as a daily event Camano Island lies curled just east of its big sister, Whidbey Island, home to a large naval air station and Pam says he always loved planes. She bought him sheets of balsa wood to make models, and he thumbed through his plane-identification book so much that it fell apart. "From the time he was a little kid," she says, "he could look up at any plane in the sky and tell you what make it was, what engine it had, when it was built, and whether it was a good, safe one."
Colt listed "pilot" as his occupation on his MySpace page, and Pam says she and his aunt promised him flying lessons if he graduated high school. She shrugs. "Evidently he didn't need flight school."
I page through a new book Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide that Colt sent Pam last Christmas. ("He's smart enough not to send things direct; he first sends them east and has them forwarded to me.") She's very interested in which ones he flew. "I'm not saying it's right," she says, "but if he flew those planes, I'm very, very proud of him." She does hope, though, that Colt will take her advice and get himself a parachute before he steals another one.
THE RISK TO COLT GROWS greater each passing day, with each alleged new crime and each additional jurisdiction pulled into the hunt. He can't walk into a Quickie Mart anywhere within 500 miles without being recognized. But still they haven't caught him.
The FBI fields an entire cyber-crime task force using advanced CIPAV spyware to find all kinds of ether-based bad guys and obviously the Bureau has plenty of experience tapping phones and tracking cells. But the FBI remains close-lipped about the ongoing investigation.
At the county level, there's a lot of frustration mixed with embarrassment. The cops try to minimize it, but you can tell they're getting more pissed the longer this drags on. According to his spokesman, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown is "way over" talking about this case. These small departments are in a tough position, hammered by residents on one side for not pulling out all the stops to catch Colt, and on the other for wasting too much of their dwindling budgets chasing what is, at the end of the day, simply a property thief, not a rapist or murderer. The FBI is busy hunting terrorist sleeper cells, and the police in Washington State have had six of their own murdered in the past three months. In the overall law-enforcement scheme, Colt is as several cops have told me just "a giant pain in the ass."