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Adirondack Bushman Captured After 20 years in the Woods

January 12th, 2007 · 54 Comments · Adirondack Life, News

This story is just breaking and deserves a special mention.

Police identify woodsman

Man tells police he has lived in woods for past 20 years

Modern Adirondack Hobo - Alan G ComoBuried in the thick woods of northern Warren County, 2 miles from the nearest road, was a testament to human adaptability.

A tarp-covered lean-to loaded with clothing, sleeping bags and provisions — items believed to have been stolen from seasonal homes around the Brant Lake region — was his residence, at least for the last several months.

The man police believe endured the elements of the Adirondacks in a pine-branch shelter was Alan G. Como, 56, whose last known address was in Massachusetts, police said. He told police he’d lived in the woods for the past 20 years.

This guy had been breaking in and burglarizing camps for gear – for 20 years!! Seems he started near Chazy Lake and began moving south after he was detected.

Big and muscular with little fat on his body, police said he is in remarkably good shape for someone his age who has apparently lived in the woods for at least several years.

“He’s a pro. He knows what he’s doing,” Cleveland said.

Only items needed for survival — clothes, sleeping bags, food and batteries — were taken during the burglaries, with the thief leaving behind valuables like jewelry and electronics, the sheriff said.


Here’s the best account of his capture:

For over a year, Warren County Sheriffs Deputies and State Police have been looking for a man living in camps in the middle of the woods, stealing items here and there from camps in northern Warren County.

“A lot of people seen him and whatnot, but they just weren’t able to catch up to him,” says Paul Smith, with the Horicon Highway Department.

Until Wednesday, the arrest of 59-year-old Alan Como came on the heels of a Tuesday morning tip from two Horicon snowplow operators who saw something that just did not look right.

“2:30 in the morning, somebody is out on a bicycle and there is two-inches of snow on the road…something is going on,” says Mark Younes, with the Horicon Highway Department.

There was a bike trail in the snow that the plows followed along their route.

“I finally tracked him out on to Pallisades Road, which eventually leaded to Beaver Pond Road,” Younes says. “Then that was the end of my route, and one of the other plow guys picked the track up from there.”

The plow operator followed the tracks in the snow until they went over the snow bank and left the road.

“They sent up some investigators…Mark and I went up to show them where he went over the bank, and they took it from there,” says Smith.

After two days of scouring the woods, on Wednesday, deputies found Como’s latest campsite.

“(It was) about two-miles in, way back in the deep woods…(we) spooked this guy out of his place,” says Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland.

Then, a nearly two-mile foot chase ensued, until Como ran into uniformed officers waiting for him.

Noah John RondeauI don’t know what to make of this. Sort of reminds me of famous Adirondack hermits of the past and even some people I know who live in “houses”.

Noah John Rondeau, Adirondack hermit

Life With Noah: Stories and Adventures of Richard Smith

More:

  • Welcome Boing Boing Readers!
  • Adirondack Bushman Charged With Mischief
    Look, I don’t support what this guy has done, but this story is sounding more like First Blood than a case-study in law-enforcement and prosecution. They are hitting him with a felony count based on the estimated value of a tree.
  • Screwed: Adirondack Beaver Pond Hermit Alan Como
    We’re certainly not condoning a hermit’s theft of minor items from isolated camps. That’s a crime that should be punished. But the Beaver Pond Hermit case is a clear signal that if you choose to live outside the boundaries of mainstream society, you may find yourself a target for the police state.
  • Burglary victim: Mountain man shouldn’t be idolized
    Como’s appearance in Horicon Town Court was brief Wednesday afternoon. Wearing a black-and-white jail jumpsuit and blue denim jacket, his legs and hands were bound with manacles and handcuffs.
  • Warren County Sheriff Has A File On You
    According to Cleveland, his department has access to your tax records, they know who your relatives are, if you hold any licenses, and your prior addresses – all pretty well expected, but they apparently have ANOTHER 20 PAGES of your life stored away somewhere as well.
  • Adirondack Bushman
    “They should let him go!”
  • Police trace the murky trail of a mountain man
    After three years — winters and all — in the rugged southern Adirondacks, Como, 56, has a new indoor home in Cell 21 of Pod C in the Warren County Jail.
  • Alan Como, throwback or futurist? at greenInk
    Here’s hoping Mr. Como will get out of jail soon, lift a good sleeping bag and a tent on his way out of town, and disappear into the woods again.
  • Audio Program about Modern Hoboes
    Gerry talks to some of the dwindling number of modern day hoboes and visits the National Hobo Convention in Iowa. via boingboing.net
  • Man formerly living in Clinton County woods arrested for burglary
    The woodsman … told State Police …he was living deep in the woods near Chazy Lake about two winters ago. … several local residents reported unusual camp break-ins where the thief took only basic household and clothing necessities, leaving behind items of substantial value.
  • Bushman’ lives in Adirondacks for 20 years :: SuperTopo
    “Thoreau was a bum who lived on handouts from neighbors.”
  • Mountain Hermit Caught by Police – ShortNews
    “I had no idea it was open season on Mountain Hermits. Does anyone know what the limit is? And I just have to ask, how do they taste?”
  • Man tells police he has lived in woods for past 20 years – Adirondack Forum
    “It is simple. he’s a thief. Doesn’t make any difference what he did or didn’t steal. the mans a thief, by definition and by law.” “And I’d appreciate it if you’d chill out while replying to my posts, boss!”
  • Bushcraft skills? – Adirondack Forum
    I would like to learn how to identify and prepare edible wild plants, start fires with a bow and make cordage from barks and herbaceous plants. Other skills like building shelter, container fabrication and snare setting would be cool to learn also.
  • Our Father
    I will not lie when I tell you that all my stereotypical images of what a “drop-out” would look like were personified in the incarcerated visage of one Alan G. Como.
  • French Louie’s old camp on Pillsbury? – Adirondack Forum
    Alan Como only had to find the right audience to become a legend like French Louie. Wrong time and place.
  • How much info should be shared – Adirondack Forum
    Modern-day French Louie? Or a homeless guy with skills?
  • A new “hermit”? – ADKHighPeaks Forums
    ADKHighPeaks Forums – Discussion
  • After decades, relatives discover whereabouts of ‘Mountain Man’ – Gee, I wonder where this story came from? Thanks for reading Don.
  • Can You Live Outside Society? – I like to stay on “the fringe”.
  • The Loner – Adirondack Life

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54 Comments so far ↓

  • maxconfus

    I wonder if this person is a criminal or just trying to find a way to live? Yes, he is alleged to be a criminal at this point and it may very well turn out to be that he is guilty but I was wondering if he was living off the land of sorts.

  • Mobo

    I think I could live forever in the woods if I had enough cream-of-wheat.

  • cazart

    “I think I could live forever in the woods if I had enough cream-of-wheat.”

    And TiVo.

  • hakky

    Let him go you bastards.

  • Mike G

    Hey BooBoo!

  • poh

    Yeah let him go, at least he is living clean. Ten times more then us. Should arrest the cops.

  • cameron

    Nice, this reminds me of a fantastic book I read in school called
    My Side of the Mountain

    people are often amazing

  • Pablo

    So, I guess riding your bike thru the snow in the middle of the night is a crime now in this wonderful “land of the free” — kinda like that time I got hauled in (“protective custody,” they call it)for walking home with a chicken sandwich at 2am a few years back…

    With no hard evidence linking this guy to the burglaries, he should get off, maybe with a “modest” fine for trespassing.

    These armed “civil servants” are nothing more than “revenooers”strongarming money out of people under the guise of “law and order”.

    Sad times in the land of the fee and home of the slave…

  • Kyle Armbruster

    You said it, Pablo.

  • Frank

    Bravo to this man.

    Technically, he has committed crimes, stealing food and clothes etc, but really they are not serious ones, he is certainly not a danger to the public, so should not be punished with a custodial sentence. I don’t think they should even record a conviction, just let him go with a warning.

    I’m sure his skills in living off the land could be put to use though, he could take people out to the woods and show them how to rough it and survive, people will pay money for that, and then he can afford to supply his own provisions, so his lifestyle can continue.

  • budsikle

    ““2:30 in the morning, somebody is out on a bicycle and there is two-inches of snow on the road…something is going on,” says Mark Younes, with the Horicon Highway Department.”

    ^^ thats some fukd up shit. oh noes someone is riding a bike at night arrest him he must be criminal!

  • TourPro

    “With no hard evidence linking this guy to the burglaries…”

    I think they caught the guy wearing stolen property. The pants had the name of a burglary victim. Of course, it is possible he found them on one of his nightly hammer sessions.

  • Rob B

    It was probably the IRS wanting back taxes…

  • Just 2 Clarify

    Just to be precise, what spooked them was that the bike tracks went over the edge of the road. Could’ve been someone riding a bike that went over the edge, that’s when/why they called in for assistance from the police. Don’t jump to conclusions.

  • tndal

    Who knows? Maybe he was capturing and frying up baby butts for breakfast. We’ll find out in due time.

    He certainly wasn’t “living off the land” otherwise he wouldn’t need batteries, camp equipment, etc.

    A real dirtbagger would trap animals, wear fur, quietly pass through the woods and carry a copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. In contrast, this guy was wearing jeans and riding a bicycle down a snow-covered road. You need an air pump to fill up bicycle tires! That IMO is hardly “roughing it”.

    He’s an asocial parasite, probably mentally disturbed, but obviously in good physical shape: a 2-mile run in which he outpaced the “dogs of the proletariat” shows what living alone can do for you.

  • wckd

    Our border patrols are being sent to jail for protecting our border from drug trafficking and we’re harassing an old man who seems dangerous because he’s riding a bike in the snow at 2am, yeah, that sounds reasonable.

  • mars

    If the old man’s a theif, then lock his grizzly butt up. Just cos he reminds you hayseeds of grandpa you are all soft on him. who wnta some creepy guy sneaking into my cottage steealing my batteries that I bought with my hard-earned. If he was black you’d be saying theey shouldve shot him and junk. friggin hayseds stick together thick as horseshit.

  • Stan Spire

    Hey, Tour Pro –

    I came across the link to this story at Boing Boing. Good job on covering the story, but I think you have a problem with your lay out. I’ve checked this page on two different computers and with both the headline and the article are separated by a lot of gray space in the middle column. If you don’t scroll way down, you would think the article was missing.

    By the way, a couple of months ago I found a comment that you left at my blogspot site – a comment from June, 2006! In case you were wondering, I wasn’t snubbing you — it’s just that freakin’ blogger never notificed me via email that your comment was waiting in the Comments Moderation bin.

    Best,

    Stan Spire

  • TourPro

    Stan, the Man!

    “…covering the story,” – Yikes, makes me almost sound like a journalist.

    I haven’t seen issues with the blog – anyone else? Send me a note if you find anything. Thanks.

  • snouterhound

    Hey Mars,
    That’s a good Idea! We should lock him up at the cost to taxpayers of only $30,000 a year! Much cheaper than batteries and bicycle parts, eh?
    Oh and by the way – he was in the Adirondacks, which is in fact, “Hayseed Country” so why don’t you save your witty urbanite banter for your homies down at the shelter?

  • Phil

    Cause you know, a guy who breaks the law, breaks into homes, and steals things from them is obviously above the LAW. The cops were just doing their job by investigating a report (that could have been called in because they were worried about the bike person’s safety) and detaining a criminal. And Pablo, who do you call when someone breaks into your house, when someone mugs you?

  • Kylark

    If the civilization we live in hadn’t forcibly separated every human being from their natural livelihood (i.e., living off the land), maybe this man wouldn’t have been forced to live like a criminal.

    I think the people concerned about their “hard-earned” are secretly resentful.

  • Jeff

    If this guy had ANY survival skills he 1. wouldn’t be raiding homes for food and clothing,and 2. wouldn’t have gotten caught. Just a homeless thief.

  • CJ

    You know, I have survival skills, I have spent lots of my “hard earned,” to learn these skills, and years practicing them. The first rule in survival situations, conservation of energy. SO what am I going to do in the middle of winter in the adaroundacks? Search for the perfict tree limb or sapling, spend time harvisting that item, carving it, shaving it, tillering it, and finally after days and possably weeks of hard, carful work, finish the Bow, or spear or whatever, only to have to make a bow string, or spearhead, and possably arrows and arrowheads. And then after all that, hunt down a deer or turkey or bear or whatever and hope that I have done everything right and the weapon dosn’t break so that I can kill the animal quickly and efficently? By that time I am eating tree bark just to say alive! Or am I going to sneak and break into cotages that are used seasonaly by people who have more money than brains,(And I know I am generalizing) and no real respect for the wilderness or they wouldn’t put the buildings their in the first place, and take the things that they leave behind, the things that they don’t care enough about to keep with them, clothing, food, bedding, etc… Ultamitly the secon is the more attractive option, survivalisticly, and I mean get REAL, these things are just possesions, material things that have about as much worth as toilet paper in the long run.

    IS a Sleeping bag, or food, or clothing in any amount worth a mans freedom? I don’t think so. By all means do not condone the theft, but forgive it, and allow the man to make amends if possable, or just allow him to dissapear again. It is not like he was killing people and eating them.
    ~CJ~

  • Hardscrabble

    A note to Mr. Como, You have alternatives to stealing!
    You can obtain food at many churches, cheap gear at yard sales or Salvation Army. Trade, barter but stealing takes away the admiration if not the respect you should have obtained with what you accomplished.
    Good luck and if you are ever in my neck of the woods I won’t miss a few veggies from the garder, just do a little weeding while your there!

  • Living in Collapse (The Anthropik Network)

    […] in the western half of North America where it is difficult to exert control; even in the east, one man was able to live in the Adirondacks for 20 years before he was caught. These spaces will grow as civilization collapses, and that growing alternative will provide one of […]

  • Terry M.

    A note to Mr. Como. Ten times more then us. Should arrest the cops.

  • Wendy

    I remember reading this page when the news hit. I do not understand why people admire the guy. It brought back scary memories of the summer of 1973. I was out hiking the Northville-Lake Placid Trail when Robert Garrow was loose raping and killing nearby. The state police took me and my friend off the trail. After he was captured we hiked end to end.

  • TourPro

    Shhhhhhh…..we don’t talk about Garrow anymore. Some things are best forgotten. Comparing Como to him is a little unfair, but I see your point.

  • patrick frederick

    In his defense, i think he should be released and recieve a written appolige from his arresting officers, he probly owes one to a few home owners also but ……freee himmmm

  • God is all made up

    i wonder what he would do if you put a i-phone in his hands

  • Mark Clark

    Been there, done that, but got over it quicker. Never did the racoon thing…stealing. Though I have eaten out of garbage cans..roadside parks only. Doing it differently at a different pace, different purpose and a better life thanks to freindly helpers who helped me get on disability. I am a service-connected VA certified nut-case but by a virus, not ptsd. I was born with ptsd..no need to go to Nam or Iraq for that. My guess is this guy got his from Nam. Anything about that?
    Let’s face it, in our own ways, we’re all “bushmen.”

  • TourPro

    I totally agree, we are all just a few resources away from fierce competition and ultimately cannibalism. LOL.

  • jenny como

    so, this guy is my uncle…that i have never met. I always heard stories about him and was tolf as i grew up that he had just disapeared off the face of the earth. my dad always told me that he just never wanted to be found….i guess he was right. anyway,this whole matter is rediculous. if this is the way he wants to live let him.maybe he really just didn’t wanna be found.he has that right.

  • jenny como

    oh yea and the i phone thing…hed probably shit himself.

  • TourPro

    Well dang! A relative of “The Bushman”.

    Wonder what’s happening with him now?

    Glad you stopped by here. Post an update if you have any info.

  • jenny como

    well first off,hes not mentally retarded or a “drop out” he’s had normal jobs, he went to college where he studied Psycology.when he lived in mass where he had some kind of job too do with fish.my sister told me he stayed with us for a short amount of time and he always smelt like fish.lol.but he just randomly disapeared one day.i guess he gets out of jail on sept.9.i dont know i just found out he was still alive about 3 hours ago.i just wish i could meet him.my dad said living in hte mountains is just what he does.he used to have a house and he would still live in the mountains in nh.hes just one of those guys who enjoys knowing he can depend on himself.

  • TourPro

    So he gets out in a couple weeks, just in time for Fall Foliage season. (just kidding!)

    What will he do? Will he be on probation? Where will he live? Are you going to meet him? Will he go back to school and finish his degree?

    It would be great to do an “exit” interview w/ him to find out if incarceration has “rehabilitated” him.

  • K.Birch

    To Jenny Como above…Whose your dad? Allan is my Godfather. My mom is his sister. Many of his siblings, and nieces and nephews have been trying to find him now for over 30 years, can someone tell me what jail he’s in and where? So that we can get to him and get him help. He has illnesses that he has had for years. We have been afraid he was no longer alive. Anybody with info please send to me at Arorasky@hotmail.com thank you

  • K.Birch

    I just want to say thank you here to Tourpro for your attempt at reaching someone who is a cousin of mine. So thank you. As for the rest of you positive, negative, indifferent comments about Alan. All I have to say is it is by the Grace of your Creator that what afflicts Alan Como, and our whole family is not happening to you or one of yours. It’s easy to make judgments based on what one reads, it’s harder to stand back and not judge and remember that each of us is human, and each of us makes wrong choices. But what would you do, starving, freezing, scared, confused, and if you were feeling as though you were constantly being followed..& no matter what you did..the following never went away? Easy answer you’d get help right. New Flash…if this were to happen to you or one of your loved ones..you would have NO IDEA that it is coming from an imbalance in your brain. Noone wants to believe that their mind could play those kinds of tricks on them. Alan is a prime example of the only treatments available to someone 20+ years ago for symptoms that he has been suffering from now for going on 30 years! How can I say these things and have them be true..Because he is my Uncle & my Godfather & I knew him long before the illness took him away from us. I also know because on of my own sons now suffers from the same illness. It is genetic. My son was lucky enough to have newer options & better treatments available currently. Alan was not so lucky. Maybe now he can be. Think before you speak, and remember it could be you or one of your own someday.

  • Brion Como

    Kathy.
    Who is this Jenny Como? And if you have questions about Alan, contact Uncle Billy.
    You might want to contact Uncle Ron too.
    Alan gets out on the 9th of September.

  • shawn macmillan

    he is my mothers cosin i was always told he was running from somyhing bad

    shawn macmillan son of jackie “como”
    daughter of melvin como his farthers brother

  • mike

    i’m no defender of abusive authority but has anyone ever considered what might have happened if this guy accidentally broke into an occupied house? it seems people forget he was breaking into houses….anything could have happened….i’m not saying he is a potential murderer but if you’re caught by an owner breaking into their house, anything could happen…someone could have been killed….i don’t want to see the guy thrown in jail but the break ins had to be stopped….the police know how these situations can escalate quite apart from the intentions of the actors involved and were right to track him down and stop him…they possibly saved a life, including como’s…

  • kindle 2 accessories

    Seems sad that a person can’t be left alone. Sure he took what he needed to survive, but he left people alone. Why couldn’t he be left alone if that’s what he wanted. To charge him w/a felony…that’s too severe and over the top for someone that’s been on his own for 20 years. Guess they need to have something to do.

  • cathy

    alan was my brother in law for 26 yrs. jenny is my youngest daugter, she never knew alan ,but was sorry she didnt. her father is his younger brother. he has been missing for some time, we always wondered if he was alive or dead. every one looked for many yrs to find him. thank god for the internet. we just care that he is ok and alive. where will he go from here, i just hope some one in the family will care for him, because he needs to know some one does.
    and yes he was a very smart man had many caring qualties , i hope he will be ok.
    cathy

  • cathy

    my e-mail is *****@yahoo.com.
    i would love to know if alan is ok and taken care of.

    because i care, cathy

  • K.Birch

    this message is for Mike, “i don’t want to see the guy thrown in jail but the break ins had to be stopped….the police know how these situations can escalate quite apart from the intentions of the actors involved and were right to track him down and stop him…they possibly saved a life, including como’s…”

    I agree the break-in’s had to be stopped, and about all the possible “bad” events that could’ve occurred. But unfortunately for Alan, the State of New York, and their justice system didn’t see or even bother to look at all of Alans’ very clear and very visible symptoms of his illness & they didn’t charge him for a SINGLE break-in. INSTEAD they gave him multiple years in prison for CUTTING DOWN TREES to build a SMALL SHELTER/SHACK! THEN after their “bright and just” police work of finding and catching him finally worked, they put him in a REGULAR Prison…THAT WAS NOT EVEN EQUIPT with MEDICAL/PSYCHIATRIC DOCTORS to DEAL with his Illness or to treat him. If it weren’t for this site, and a small handful of Journalists asking lots of questions for our family, he would NOT be receiving ANY help or TREATMENT even NOW about 2.5 years after they put him IN Prison & AFTER they had RELEASED HIM. SOOOO you tell me…what have the police of NEW YORK or their Justice System done to make sure that “another Allan” doesn’t come along and do pretty much the same thing eventually. Did the state of New York or their idea on proper treatment of Mentally Ill Patients in Prisons (meaning- no doctor-no treatment & mixed in with the general population) (Doc TREATMENT, MEDS & safe incarceration for mentally ill patients are protected & REQUIRED under Federal Guidelines) Did they get anything thing from this? I hope so, for all the Alan Como’s that are still out there and the ones who are currently housed in New York systems. Lawsuits have been filed already and won or settled against the state of New York, for already violating these federal laws involving incarcerated mentally ill inmates. But New York apparently didn’t learn anything from those suits either, or Alan’s situation would’ve been much different a long time ago.

  • cathy

    because i care , thankyou KBirch for letting me know alan is safe and ok. i am so glad he has you
    as a niece. you have good resources.
    cathy

  • shawn macmillan

    where is cosin allan now

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