48 Hours – Harris-Moore

CBS 48 Hours

Tonight’s episode of CBS’ 48 Hours was about Washington’s own Colton Harris-Moore.

There had been little about Harris-Moore in the media lately until he was indicted on five federal charges this week. He’ll be arraigned next Thursday.

I tried to keep an open mind while watching this 48 Hours episode, but it was hard to do so when this guy stole an assault rifle from a deputy’s car a block from my weekend home at the time. It was also unsettling to know that someone with no regard for others’ property was running around in the woods nearby.

At the beginning of 48 Hours, they flashed a few sound bites from unidentified people, one of whom said “that is balls” in regard to crashing planes. “Here we go…” I thought. Another man asked, “who created this kid?” as the show discussed Harris-Moore’s abuse and neglect. The narrator claimed that he had been named after an alcoholic beverage.

While it is necessary to look at the factors that could have played into Harris-Moore’s deviancy, nobody should be making excuses for him. He is an adult who is responsible for his own actions. He knows right from wrong and needs to do hard time.

The show spent more time talking about Harris-Moore’s actions on Orcas Island than they did on Camano Island. I was disappointed that Josh Flickner, manager of the Elger Bay Store on Camano, only got a few sentences in. Flickner knows more about Harris-Moore’s background than most people, having known him since a young age.

Much of the citizen activism to bring Harris-Moore in wasn’t even mentioned– the Catch the Barefoot Bandit website, the alliances forged with Washington’s Most Wanted and Crime Stoppers, the attorney’s monetary reward for surrender, and the many people who’ve spoken out about this. Mike Rocha was just a flash on the screen. The only actual interviews featured with Camano Island residents were former schoolmates who could attest to his rotten childhood.

Evidently Harris-Moore lived in Reno for six months in the middle of his crime spree, lying about his age to work at a casino. Um, background checks, anyone? Do they not require a criminal history check and fingerprints? This knocks another hole in the myth, that he was living in the woods at that time.

One element of this 48 Hours investigation that seemed to be lacking was comments from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors. This may be because the case is active in federal court, and Harris-Moore is still facing charges in several states. But without commentary from the criminal justice system, this show seemed to be missing an important component.

I also noticed that the only time Harris-Moore’s defense attorney was on screen was when he said, “He doesn’t know what’s going on– he’s a 19 year-old kid.” That was just after his arrest. Given that Harris-Moore has been accused of loving the limelight, it would seem that media silence on his attorney’s part since his arrest would serve to enhance their assertion that he doesn’t want the attention.

Yes, what happened to Harris-Moore as a child was terrible, and I’m sorry he went through that. No child deserves the horrors of domestic violence and addicted parents. But there are plenty of people who had hellish home lives that are wonderful, loving, law-abiding, productive members of society. He may have experienced a nightmare, but he still had a choice, and he chose wrong.

Sorry, Barefoot Bandit fans, but this is not “just a kid” who should be pitied because his parents failed him. He is an adult who needs to undergo an evaluation by a qualified forensic psychologist to determine his risk to society. His pattern of behavior is clearly not normal.

It is naive of reporters and others watching the case to assume he’s just a disadvantaged boy who needs to be rehabilitated when the very conditions that marred his childhood may also be the ones that could have permanently scarred his mind. That’s why an appropriate evaluation should happen before his sentencing.

Overall, I wasn’t that impressed with the 48 Hours story. I do appreciate the air time they gave to some of Harris-Moore’s victims. I wish they would have included a wider variety of sources and a more comprehensive overview of the total crimes and damages.


We don’t seem to be able to check crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business? -Will Rogers

©2010 H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninja.wordpress.com.

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