'Barefoot bandit' trail leads FBI to plane crash in the Bahamas

Federal agents have been itching for months to get their hands on a certain Colton Harris-Moore, a 19-year-old fugitive from the law whose home was coastal Washington State near Seattle. That he may have pitched up – or rather crash-landed – in a tourist isle in the Bahamas was not what anyone expected.

The trail of Harris-Moore, sometimes known as the "Barefoot Bandit" for his habit of committing burglaries while shoeless, turned red hot on Sunday when a plane which had earlier been stolen from a small airport in Indiana was discovered nose-down in three-feet of water off the coast of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas.

That the Cessna 400, valued at $650,000 (3427,000), had been commandeered by Harris-Moore seems beyond doubt to the FBI, which on Tuesday announced a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that will lead to his arrest. They also unsealed a federal criminal complaint against him dated last December. It details more than 60 crimes he is thought to have committed since slipping out of a low-security home for juveniles back in 2008.

While the plane has been recovered, the hunt for its alleged pilot is only just beginning and will fan across the Bahamas, better known as a destination for sun-worshippers and fishing enthusiasts. "He's not in custody as yet. We're following some leads and we're working with the community to try and find him. Hopefully we should find him," assistant police commissioner with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Glenn Miller, confirmed. The optimism may be misplaced given the suspect's history of evading capture and teasing the victims of his crimes and the police. Most recently, investigators have been tracking a succession of crimes committed across the Midwest, all of which seem to display his hallmarks, including the occasion when a family in South Dakota returned home to find a nude young man inside. He blinded them with a laser pointer before vanishing.

The complaint unsealed by the FBI covers investigations tied to the suspect dating back to before leaving the Pacific Northwest last month for his apparent cross-country spree. Included, however, is the theft of another Cessna in late September in Idaho and the discovery of its wreckage two days later in Granite Falls, Idaho. The goods described as being stolen by the suspect in the complaint would together be valued at over $3m.

The young man was also thought to be at the controls of another light aircraft stolen during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. The plane skirted along the boundaries of a no-fly area set up as part of the security arrangements for the games and then vanished before anyone could intercept it.

Police say he left the Pacific Northwest on 1 June, slipping across the Columbia River and beginning his odyssey across the country in a variety of stolen vehicles. But now he seems to have pushed the boat out, or rather his latest winged acquisition. Police in the town of Monroe, Indiana, were already dealing with reports of a car that had been stolen in neighbouring Illinois when they received news that a plane had gone missing from the airport.

A relatively recent model, the Cessna in question had a range of a little over 1,200 miles, putting the Bahamas just within its flying reach. It is still a relatively challenging flight plan for a young man who has never, as far as anyone knows, received any pilot's instruction. In southern Florida alone he faced several restricted flying zones around NASA's Cape Canaveral as well as military bases and commercial airports.

Then there was the matter of ditching it in water safely, something he did six miles offshore. When the police arrived, the wreckage was there, but the pilot was gone. "We suspect that maybe the individual is a good swimmer, or the water may not have been that deep," said Mr Miller. It seems both observations were true.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments