Surprise! (not)

From KOMO News (–137990673.html):

SEATTLE (AP) — “Barefoot Bandit” Colton Harris-Moore ridiculed police and prosecutors in emails and phone calls from prison recently, undercutting his claims that he’s sorry for his two-year crime spree, the U.S. attorney’s office said in court documents filed Tuesday.

In these emails, KOMO says, Harris-Moore allegedly called police, prosecutors, and reporters swine, vermin, and fools in direct contradiction to his previous “apology.” He bragged about his crime spree and obviously believes, in true narcissistic form, that he is above other people:

“The things I have done as far as flying and airplanes goes, is amazing,” he wrote in one email last August. “Nobody on this planet have done what I have, except for the Wright brothers.”

KOMO also cites a statement he made in his email just after his sentencing:

“When all the acting and spreading of high propaganda on the part of the state was over and my lawyers argued the true facts, the judge gave me a much-appreciated recognition and validation, calling my story a ‘triumph of the human spirit,'” he wrote. “She wasn’t having none of the weak argument the prosecution tried to peddle, and ended up handing down a sentence that was the lowest possible within the range…”

The Herald sheds more light on his mindset (

“It’s all political,” Harris-Moore wrote a couple a weeks later, according to another intercepted email. “I’m thankful for the judge saying what she did, but at the same time her words were greater than her actions — she had the ability as invested in her by the people to create change, and the opportunity to stand up with compassion, but didn’t reach that potential.”

Harris-Moore predicted that he’ll serve half the time imposed.

“I will emerge unscathed, with my plans back on track,” he allegedly wrote. “Just a matter of time no doubt.”

I’ve been blogging about this case for nearly two years now. I’m very familiar with Harris-Moore’s attorney’s playbook and this case was literally hitting too close to home for awhile. All along I’ve doubted that Harris-Moore would have sincere remorse and have discussed the possibilities that he is a narcissist, has antisocial personality disorder, or is a sociopath. It takes an expert to diagnose those and I discussed my reasoning in a blog post last month after his sentencing:

Harris-Moore’s attorneys are predictably saying that these are just snapshots of hundreds and hundreds of pages of emails. They also claim that he has not disrespected his victims in these communications. That lessens the contradictions he’s making how? I’m not sure that serial criminals like him think about their victims much anyway. He has acted “favorably” towards his victims only when it’s in his best interest, like surrendering some profits from his crime spree to go towards restitution.

I don’t want to be rude, but part of me feels like saying, “skeptics, do you believe me now?” I know some people truly want to believe that he’ll be rehabilitated and mature into a productive member of society. We can hope. Given his patterns of behavior, including how they escalated until he was caught, asking if he is capable of that is a valid question. But the circumstances he’s experienced in life thus far, including his rotten childhood, are the very circumstances that can help mold some of the worst criminals among us, especially the self-absorbed ones who feel that they are the victims.

One point I make again and again and again on this blog is that low to no conscience types prey on our sympathy. They, sometimes even instinctively, know how to manipulate people’s emotions through so-called apologies and promises to change. But they’re not sorry. They’re using others to escape consequences and free themselves up to offend again. As uncomfortable as it is to say this, I hope that the last judge who sentenced him realizes that she’s been used. Maybe even his attorneys feel that way.

You can be a child abuse victim and you can be a rapist. You can be a sexual assault survivor and be a serial killer. Realizing what Colton Harris-Moore may really be does not negate what he went through as a child. Clearly he is grandiose, self-absorbed, and feeding off of the attention I hoped so fervently people would not give him. I’m not sure that I ever remember a case in which so many people were so quick to excuse his behavior based on his past, or a case in which people thought he was awesome because he hadn’t caused serious bodily injury to anyone even though he could have killed many people in multiple incidents.

Wake up, people. This guy may not feel real remorse and may not emerge from prison reformed. We have to allow for that possibility and not assume that because he had a bad childhood he’ll turn out okay. He may have also been brain damaged, in utero or via child abuse. The psychological red flags that have popped up throughout his life cause me to believe that he will just hone his skills and network in prison.

Even so, it’s in society’s best interest to keep him locked up as long as possible, which is why his two sentences should run consecutively, not concurrently. Anyone who starts fires, steal cars, boats, and planes, tries to harm law enforcement, breaks into houses– and on the list goes– is a public safety issue. Some guys like him become addicted to the rush. Some only feel alive when they are doing exactly what they shouldn’t be.

I am very glad that the comments Harris-Moore made are being included in the sentencing recommendation because he’s showing his true colors. I’m not surprised. What really concerns me is that this guy has a Manson-like magnetism– supporters have swooned over him as if he’s Robin Hood when he hasn’t tried to benefit anyone but himself. I’ve found this very disturbing.

What if he tries to mobilize his supporters to commit crimes? What if he emerges from prison appearing to be reformed and takes advantage of the well-meaning people who will be waiting there to help him get back on his feet? This personality type, the type seeping through between the lines in his emails, holds power over others because:

1. Despite their criminal acts, people only see them as a victim because of their childhood. He’s not a victim and a dangerous criminal to them, he’s just a victim.

2. They attract the kinds of attorneys who will help them appear remorseful when they might not even be capable of true remorse. Key terms here are spin doctor, smokescreen, shifting the blame, and PR.

3. People rejoice in the ways they hurt others, increasing the likelihood that others will be hurt and empathy and/or restitution for crime victims will be diminished. In other words, the disease spreads.

When you can’t see someone devious for who they really are, you’re liable to get used and get hurt. I hope that more people acknowledge how highly Harris-Moore appears to think of himself. Following this story, there has been red flag after red flag after red flag that tell me something’s truly wrong with this guy that might not be able to be fixed. Sadly, he’ll probably be a model prisoner and be out of prison in short order.

Ultimately, I’m not concerned with trying to rehabilitate this guy. The system should be punishing this guy in meaningful ways. Keeping him out of society is in everyone’s best interest including his own. I want people to understand, given his childhood, antisocial behavior, and flippant arrogance, that this is exactly how some monsters are made.

The characteristics of his life that have brought him so much sympathy are likely the same circumstances that might have twisted him into someone so entrenched in himself that he might never come back out. I really wish the prosecution would have had a qualified forensic psychologist evaluate him, especially because the defense hired their own such expert who made some odd conclusions. Harris-Moore’s life, including the adoration of his fans, has been the perfect environment in which a sociopath can develop and yet not be recognized as such by the masses.


©2012 H. Hiatt/ 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/

Seriously, what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s