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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Barefoot Bandit

The 18-year old Colton Harris-Moore, known as the "Barefoot Bandit", eluded the authorities across North America using his wits and his fleet (sometimes bare) feet. The police said he made makeshift homes in empty houses for days or weeks at a time and somehow taught himself to fly, mastering the art of crash-landing. The boy is suspected of taking at least five planes — including once during the Vancouver Olympics — and crash landing all of them. He walked away each time. The "Barefoot Bandit" was first arrested at age 12 for several crimes, including setting fire to Stanwood Middle School. At about the same age, Mr. Harris-Moore was determined to have several psychiatric conditions, including depression, attention deficit disorder and intermittent explosive disorder, according to a later psychiatric report. He was prescribed antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. A ninth-grade dropout, Mr. Harris-Moore had a volatile childhood and was often in conflict with his mother, Pam Kohler. His father appears to have been absent. According to public documents, child protection officials had been referred to the family at least a dozen times by the time Mr. Harris-Moore was 15. All in all a sad, but not quite unusual story. Only that the incredible ability of the 6-foot-5 Mr. Harris-Moore to fly and crash-land planes has made him an Internet antihero, celebrated by thousands of fans on Facebook.

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