Mom may try to cash in on 'Bandit' son
Pam Kohler, the mother of international outlaw Colton Harris-Moore, has hired a renowned Seattle lawyer to handle her "entertainment" interests. She said a book is in the works detailing the life and times of her 19-year-old son.
Seattle Times staff reporters
Pam Kohler, the mother of international outlaw Colton Harris-Moore, has no intention of letting anyone make a dime off her famously fugitive son without her say in it.
Kohler, 59, has hired a renowned Seattle lawyer — who has represented celebrities the likes of Courtney Love, Dale Chihuly and the family of Jimi Hendrix — to handle her "entertainment" interests.
She said a book is in the works detailing the life and times of her 19-year-old son (but said no one has contacted her about a movie), who made international headlines this week after allegedly fleeing across the country, the law on his heels, and flying from Indiana to the Bahamas in a stolen plane.
Kohler has publicly urged him to keep running from the law and find a country that won't extradite.
Seattle attorney O. Yale Lewis confirmed that Kohler retained his firm "to provide advice" because she is "really overwhelmed by the constant [media] attention."
Lewis' involvement raises questions about whether a person should be able to profit from their crimes.
Washington has a so-called "Son of Sam" law prohibiting criminals and their "representatives" from profiting from crimes. What's not clear is whether Harris-Moore's mother can benefit monetarily from her son's notoriety.
Fearing for his life
After a string of thefts and burglaries in the Northwest — and two years of frustration for the cops unable to catch him — the hunt for Harris-Moore shifted to the sparsely populated Bahamian island of Great Abaco.
Authorities believe Harris-Moore arrived in the Bahamas after he fled the San Juan Islands and made it to Indiana, where he is suspected of stealing a plane and flying more than 1,000 miles before ditching it in shallow water. On Friday, authorities investigated a report that Harris-Moore had fled to Eleuthera, an island about 40 miles south of Abaco, The Associated Press reported.
Harris-Moore has been on the lam since April 2008 after escaping from a Renton halfway house, where he was serving time for burglarizing Camano Island homes. Since then, he has made international headlines for avoiding law enforcement while being blamed for a series of thefts — including boats, airplanes and luxury cars — and breaking into homes and businesses.
Kohler told The Seattle Times on Thursday that she is terrified that police, whether U.S. or in another country, see her son as some sort of prize worth killing in order to capture him. She has hired John Henry Browne, a well-known Seattle defense attorney, to handle her son's criminal case. Harris-Moore is facing a federal charge of interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with a theft of an airplane in Idaho that crashed and was abandoned near Granite Falls, and a slew of charges in Island County Superior Court stemming from a July 2008 crime spree.
"I have things arranged to turn him in," Browne said, declining to go into details about the plan. "I just hope he doesn't get shot."
Over the years, Harris-Moore's notoriety has grown into a cultlike following — a Facebook page dedicated to Harris-Moore has more than 23,000 followers — and this month a "Colton Harris Moore Fan Club" website started taking donations for his legal defense.
He has been nicknamed the "Barefoot Bandit" because surveillance video and crime-scene evidence indicates he often commits crimes in his bare feet.
Kohler said she and her son have spoken about publishing a book, with any leftover proceeds going to start a shelter for abused animals.
She wouldn't say when she talked to him, other than to claim it was a few weeks ago. She otherwise declined to discuss her son's whereabouts or the allegations leveled against him.
"I don't know where he is. He doesn't call me and give me his phone number and his address," Kohler said.
While Washington does have a law that prohibits criminals from profiting from their crimes through books or the sale of memorabilia, similar laws in some other states have been challenged on First Amendment grounds.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or email@example.com
The information in this article, originally published July 9, 2010, was corrected July 10, 2010. The original article reported the state does not have a "Son of Sam" law. Washington does have such a law, designed to keep criminals from profiting through tell-all accounts in books, movies, magazines and other media. The state law applies to criminals and their "representatives." It's unclear whether that would include Harris-Moore's mother, who says a book about him is in the works.