Shane Houle Miller – Honors Psychology October 27, 2010 The Case of “the Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore was born on March 22, 1991 in Camano Island, Washington. He grew up in a broken home torn apart by substance abuse. His mother, Pamela Kohler, and his father, Gordon Moore, had severe problems with drugs and alcohol and had more than one occasion had to speak with Child Services about her treatment of Colton. His father had left when he was 12, but not before attempting to strangle him at a family barbecue, and his mother constantly fought with him when she was drunk or frustrated. If that wasn’t enough he also had altercations at school as well as at home when he did attend. Colton never placed much into schooling and education, even though he had a high IQ and was a quick learner he never had any motivation, interest, or focus towards long-term goals due to his now self-defeating depression. Even though he was gifted in many ways he was cursed with being born into a home filled with instability and failure. He had not only not ever hurt other people, but he has also never used drugs or alcohol, he just responded rebelliously to authorities like any teenager in his position. Colton then began to gain a new habit of compulsive thievery, mainly consisting of stealing blankets, food, and water and vanishing off into the woods for days. His quickly accumulated thefts and 23 convictions eventually caught up with him when police found a neighbor’s stolen camcorder in his room. His mother commented saying, “Whenever he had anything good, they thought he stole it. What does that do to a kid?” Colton Harris-Moore never having been sentenced to more than a month in a detention center or community service fled a halfway house in Snohomish County in April 2008. Little did he know that his one choice to run would lead into a two year man hunt. For the next six months Colton was hiding out with friends he had met on the road. Mainly relying upon his survival skills from his experiences living in the woods, from when he was seven years old and being afraid to go home, he began to make his way across country. Colton Harris-Moore wasn’t as he seemed though. Even though he didn’t really connect with society he wasn’t a bad guy. He continually proved this by leaving “thank you” notes behind as well as once driving by a veterinary hospital leaving behind one hundred dollars as a contribution for the animals left by “the Barefoot Bandit” as he was beginning to be called by the media. Sometimes while making his way across the country Colton would simply enter a house in order to have a hot bath or a couple scoops of ice cream, of course once or twice he would use a credit card to order bear mace or a pair of much needed night-vision goggles. By late June of 2010 he was suspected for a range of vehicle thefts stretching to Illinois. The police began to track his movements following abandoned vehicles that had been reported and any spree of burglaries that might have occurred in the area. On July 4, 2010 Colton pulled a huge theft of a Cessna-400 single engine plane, reported stolen from the Bloomington, Indiana airport, was found crashed off the shoreline of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. By then he was quickly becoming folk legend having stolen four planes that he had allegedly learned to fly by giving the manuals an once-over and playing flight-simulator video games. People began to hear stories of his exploits and tales of a shoeless cat burglar who left notes of thanks and chalk footprints. Soon, when enough people got wind of it, he had his own band of loyal followers with his face on T-shirts and a Facebook fan page. Colton’s indictment was released from a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Western Washington, which was filed in December 2009. Now there was even a 10,000 dollar reward out for his arrest. After a brash of several reported break-ins, it was assured that the Barefoot Bandit was in the Bahamas, which meant that within the next few days his wanted poster was everywhere. On July 11, 2010, Colton was captured at dawn in Harbour Island in the 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 Island. After a high speed boat chase the police finally managed to shoot out the engine of his boat, but not before he had dumped his laptop into the water and putting a gun to his head. Thankfully, the police talked him out of killing himself, which he comments, “It is scary to think of how easy it is to die…but I wouldn’t want to.” 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 and had hoped that he would flee to a country that did not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Soon following paying the 300 dollar fine for his illegal entry into the Bahamas, he was sent to Miami and from there he was transferred to the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, Washington, courtesy of Con Air. After many hours of psychiatric examination, psychologists determined the route of his destructive habits and that he was, as many described, a good guy. Stemming from long years of intense stressful, unstable, and even abusive home environment he had developed a depressive disorder, compassed around 2000, which at the time he was expressing rebellious and defiant behaviors. He also is diagnosed with a Parental-Child Relational problem (but come on, who doesn’t?). This is arranged in a manner that supports positive growth and precludes any further bad choices. They also bring to light the facts that he had never hurt anyone, never hurt his family, and never touched alcohol and drugs, a feature which sets him apart from most teenagers his age. He would obviously look forward to work in a responsible manner if given the right environment. I feel as though he was a moral standard in the environment he was placed in. To us we may see him as only a thief, when he there is so much good in him. His destructive behaviors should barely even be considered as such, for there is good in him and he is not within a mental state that would betray his own sanity. When people rally around him it is because he does things that an average teen would do if in his situation, maybe not to his extent, but following the same basic outline of rebellion and defiance. He saw the reality of situations and his environment crippled him in many ways but for him to have come so far on so little and with so much potential I feel it would be waste to let such an exemplary person go to rot in some prison for the rest of his life. I feel with proper supervision and some positive constructing people in his life who care about him, and maybe some clinical medication, he would turn out to be so much more than just some Bandit, but a major contributor to the human experience.
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