New story at Adirondack Life:
When John Maday and two other investigators from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office came upon the campsite, the first thing they saw was a man’s feet inside his crude lean-to of pine branches, blankets and tarps. The campsite was built on a flat area just below the summit of Park Mountain, at the southern tip of the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Area.
It was late morning on January 10, 2007, and the investigators were returning after having made it to the crest of the adjacent hill the night before, when the setting sun had compelled them to turn around. They’d gotten that far in office clothes—shirtsleeves, ties and street shoes—following a chance tip from the Horicon Town Highway Department that had given them their first lead in months. A town employee had been plowing the roads after a light snowfall when he’d spotted fresh bicycle tracks running for several miles from Brant Lake up to Palisades Road and onto Beaver Pond Road, where the police had found the bicycle hidden under a tarp and tree branches.
But they’d been tracking the suspect much longer than that. For close to two years, the towns of Chester and Horicon and the hamlet of Brant Lake had experienced an unusually high number of petty burglaries at seasonal camps and houses: at least 80 and perhaps as many as 100 break-ins where the thief took food, clothes, alcohol and small items, from batteries to snowshoes, ignoring all electronics or other valuables. In one home, he’d stolen a whole ham; in another, a woman laid out food for that night’s dinner before she went for a walk in the woods, only to find it missing when she returned. In some homes, it appeared that the man had rested overnight. In most it seemed he’d come in through the window, sometimes just before the owners returned.