June 25, 2018
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Former property owner had no idea ‘North Pond Hermit’ was living on his land

Maine State Police | BDN
Maine State Police | BDN
Maine State Police photo shows a makeshift camp site of Christopher Knight for 27 years in Rome, Maine taken following his arrest on April 4, 2013.
By Aimee Thibodeau, BDN Staff

Paul Salvas says he never knew there was anyone living on the property he previously owned in the woods of Rome, Maine.

In fact, when asked on Friday morning, he said he hadn’t heard anything about the man who has become known as the “North Woods Hermit,” accused of committing more than 1,000 burglaries in the area in order to survive in the wooded solitude.

Salvas confirmed that he purchased the property where Christopher Knight, 47, is alleged to have lived in the woods of central Maine for 27 years sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, but that he sold it 10 years ago.

When told that Knight allegedly only spoke to one person during his entire time in the woods, Salvas paused.

“If he talked to one person, it sure as a son-of-a-gun wasn’t me,” Salvas said.

Records from the Kennebec County Registry of Deeds show that Salvas purchased the property from Merle Clement, who died two years ago, on Dec. 1, 1993. Salvas said he was living in Massachusetts at the time.

To Salvas, the 219-acre property he bought was a real estate investment that he simply decided to sell to Lisa and Ronald Fitzgerald on July 30, 2003.

“It was just a real estate transaction,” Salvas said. “I just bought it as a business investment.”

The BDN hasn’t been able to contact the Fitzgeralds for comment, but they are listed on the deed as having a post office box in Harpswell, Maine.

Salvas, now 81, was reached in Bradenton, Fla. He was vague about his connection to Maine, and chuckled several times as he listened to Knight’s story.

“I went to the property and I used to ride up and down through there and walk through the woods, but I never saw this guy and I never saw any evidence that there was somebody living there under any conditions,” Salvas said. “Even if I had known he was living there, I doubt if I would have done anything.”

Salvas repeated several times what many others have said since Knight’s tale has begun to unfold — “It’s a crazy story.”

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