"Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the bald eagles on Camano Island in Washington State's Puget Sound are more likely to see a different bird in the sky: a police chopper skimming the cedar forests in search of an outlaw. Colton Harris-Moore, a gangly 18-year-old with furtive eyes and a dimpled chin, has been on police blotters since he was accused of stealing a bike at the age of 8. Since then, he is suspected of having committed nearly 100 burglaries in Washington, Idaho and Canada. Police allege that he graduated from bikes to cars, then to speedboats. Lately, he is suspected of stealing three small aircraft — all the more impressive given that he has never taken a single flying lesson.
Harris-Moore, 6 ft. 5 in. (1.96 m), has become a legend in the Pacific Northwest — T-shirts bearing his face or the words FLY, COLTON, FLY are big sellers in Seattle — and on the Internet. His Facebook fan club has 8,000 members, and a hokey ballad on YouTube sings his praises. Harris-Moore's supporters see a deeper meaning to his popularity: During hard economic times, they say, why not celebrate a poor boy who robs from the island vacation homes of Seattle's dotcom gazillionaires? But Harris-Moore apparently steals just as often from Camano's ordinary folk as he does from the rich.
He had a rough past. Harris-Moore's abusive father walked out after choking him during an argument at a family barbecue. His mother raised him in a mobile home dragged into the woods on the island's South End, which, as local writer and stained-glass artist Jack Archibald says, has "basically one main road, a two-lane blacktop that loops around like a belt on a skinny fella."
Some locals speculate that Harris-Moore burgles not for the money but to experience the fantasy of the happy home life he never had as a child. According to local sheriffs, he often slips into a house just to soak in a hot bath or steal mint-chip ice cream from the fridge — a "Goldilocks thing," one investigator says. Initially, Harris-Moore seemed to steal only what he needed for life in the woods. "He's a survivalist," says Archibald. The teenager allegedly used one homeowner's computer and credit-card information to order bear mace and a pair of $6,500 night-vision goggles.
His recent alleged crimes have been more brazen. He's been accused of stealing speedboats to travel to nearby islands to plunder empty homes. In November 2008, police suspect that Harris-Moore hot-wired a Cessna that belonged to a local radio DJ — he'd ordered a flying manual on the Internet — and crash-landed it 300 miles (about 480 km) east on an Indian reservation. Since then, he may have stolen two other planes, both of which were later found crashed. He apparently walked away from the wrecks, miraculously unharmed. On Fox News, Harris-Moore's mother Pam Kohler outraged her tut-tutting interviewer by saying, "I hope to hell he stole those planes. I'd be so proud. But next time, I want him to wear a parachute."
So where is he now? When police recently retrieved a stolen Mercedes-Benz on Camano, they discovered a camera with a photo that Harris-Moore had snapped of himself. The manhunt has become more intense. Before slipping away from a police raid on his mother's trailer, Harris-Moore left a note: "Cops wanna play huh!? Well its no lil game.....It's war! & tell them that." Authorities say he then broke into a deputy's car and stole, among other things, an assault rifle. He is now considered armed and dangerous. "He's not evil, but he's not Robin Hood either," says artist Jack Gunter, an island resident. "Unless he's stopped, chances are he'll end up a career criminal — or dead."
That, of course, would only add to his legend. To his young fans, Harris-Moore is known as "the Barefoot Burglar" because he once kicked off his shoes to flee deputies chasing him in the woods...."
— Source: TIME Magazine article by Tim McGirk
"There's a woeful, familiar Hollywood parable about the dark side lurking among the fragrant orange groves and endless sunshine: A young, talented woman seeks fame and fortune, only to find immortality through tragedy. Jean Spangler is one such amaranthine dame, a 1940s aspiring starlet whose unsolved disappearance has more noir twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan adaptation of a James Ellroy novel.
Working her way up as a dancer and an extra, Spangler was intent on making it in Hollywood when she vanished at the age of 27 on Oct. 7, 1949. Her purse, with a torn handle and a cryptic note, was found two days later in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, but Spangler herself was never seen again. In their efforts to find her, police considered every possibility: a botched abortion, an ex-husband battling for custody of their young daughter, the Mafia, one of the world's most famous actors, and — perhaps the most shocking, headline-grabbing option of all — the notorious Black Dahlia killer. More than 70 years later, Spangler's disappearance still haunts the City of Angels. Was she the victim of medical malfeasance, the rage of a jealous lover spurned, the diabolical plot of an ex-spouse to assume full parental control — or a killer far more prolific and sinister?
In fall 1949, Spangler had been eking out a living as a dancer at Hollywood's Florentine Gardens (infamous for its link to 22-year-old murder victim and aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, who was found mutilated Jan. 15, 1947 — a mysterious case that became connected to other unsolved murders of young women, possibly at the hands of the Black Dahlia serial killer) and nabbing bit parts in films such as The Miracle of the Bells and Young Man With a Horn. Only days before her disappearance, Spangler wrapped production on The Petty Girl starring Robert Cummings (Dial M for Murder), whom she'd befriended on set.
While enjoying modest professional success, Spangler was also working through some personal drama that began when she married plastics manufacturer Dexter Benner in 1942 in a whirlwind wartime romance. She filed for divorce just six months later, citing cruelty, but they continued an on-again/off-again relationship, and Spangler gave birth to the couple's daughter, Christine, in April 1944. Benner was originally granted custody of Christine in 1946, and he reportedly denied Spangler the right to see her daughter, leading to what the Los Angeles Times referred to as a "bitter" custody battle, which Spangler ultimately won.
All seemed well enough on the night of Friday, Oct. 7, 1949. At 5:30 p.m. Spangler departed her Park La Brea apartment on Colgate Avenue, leaving 5-year-old Christine with her sister-in-law Sophie for the evening. Spangler's mother, Florence, with whom she shared the apartment, was away visiting relatives in Kentucky.
"She came down the stairs and asked how she looked," Sophie later told reporters. "She smiled at me, and then her little girl, Christine, asked where she was going. 'Going to work,' Jean answered again, but she winked at me when she said it." It was not unusual for Spangler to go to work late in the afternoon, as a bit player involved in night shoots. But — Sophie and dozens of others were left to wonder later — did that wink suggest Spangler was using "work" as a cover for something else?
This theory was further fueled by the fact that the Screen Extras Guild confirmed to investigators that Spangler had no call for work that night (TV studios also had no record of her employment for that date). According to the Los Angeles Times, Spangler called the apartment about two hours after she left, to ask about her daughter and tell Sophie not to expect her home until the next morning because she would be working a full eight-hour shift. When Spangler hadn't returned by Saturday night, Sophie called the police.
On Sunday morning, a Griffith Park worker discovered a handbag police identified as Spangler's in the Fern Dell area of the park. The handle was damaged, and the bag contained a note written by Spangler that read, "Kirk, Can't wait any longer. Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away." Thus began a hunt for Spangler — and the mysterious Kirk and Dr. Scott..."