Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colton Harris-Moore, Tale of a Teenage Outlaw


When police searched Carol Star's Mercedes, they found a stolen digital camera with photos that Colton Harris-Moore had taken of himself. One photo in particular has been called "infamous" and "definitive."

Colton Harris-Moore
Colton Harris-Moore
The photo shows Colton Harris-Moore, a tenth-grade dropout, reclining among ferns, wearing a black Mercedes shirt and iPod headphones. He's smiling just the slightest bit while taking a photo of himself on someone else's camera.

It's like a million other photos teens upload to MySpace or Facebook. The only difference between this photo and those? Colton Harris-Moore was a wanted felon when he took his self-portrait.

Police put the image on wanted posters across Washington State, but they soon discovered a surprising amount of sympathy for the teen fugitive. Before a town meeting, South Camano Island resident said police needed to take it easy on Harris-Moore. "He's just a young, stupid boy," Larry Newton said.

Other local residents seem sympathetic because of Harris-Moore's age and upbringing. According to Time magazine, he would slip into a house just to get a hot bath or steal mint-chip ice cream. Neighbors speculated he was living the fantasy of a happy home life that he never hada "Goldilocks thing."

Just as investigators were rubbing against public sympathy, Colton Harris-Moore became cheekier, leaving a surprising note for police at his mother's house.

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