COBURN GORE, MAINE — In a town of 41 people at the U.S.-Canadian border where French and English are spoken, word is spread by snowmobile — then by mailman — that a suspected killer from Michigan could be in the area.
“They said he was big, he was tall and big and like 60 years old, something like that and that he dyed his hair,” Stephan Blais, a clerk at Pipin grocery store said on Friday.
They also said that the fugitive was last seen not far to the south, in the town of Rangeley, where he stayed in a motel.
At the Canadian side of the customs checkpoint, agents have considerably more information — including color photographs of Harold “Butch” Knight, the 66-year-old man suspected of strangling his wife, Sara, before fleeing to Maine.
The crossing is a popular border-crossing point for snowmobilers, the one closest to Rangeley.
“This would be one of the ways, the fastest, I guess,” Blais said.
Knight was last seen Jan. 19 — six days after his wife’s body was discovered — when he checked out of the Town & Lake Motel in Rangeley. Federal agents believe he no longer has a vehicle. If he’s not hiding in one of the many cabins around Rangeley, he could have fled on a snowmobile, they said. Or, they said, he might try to escape that way.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent said agents are searching by snowmobile and are spreading the word — through snowmobile clubs and door-to-door at businesses in Rangeley and in towns to the north.
On Wednesday, U.S. Marshals dropped off photographs of Knight at the Flagstaff General Store in Stratton, Maine.
“Hey, there’s a guy in the area armed and dangerous,” store cook Allison Lemont said they told her. “I think they’re just trying to warn all the businesses on Main Street because they had a list of all the businesses.”
Lemont said she was shocked to recognize the fugitive’s face. He was in a few of her classes several years ago at Central Maine Community College in Turner, Maine, — where he lived before he moved to Michigan, she said.
She described him as a nice man who offered to help her with her classes.
“You would never have guessed, having a conversation with this man, that he would do something like this,” she said.