Criminal Justice Research Proposal Paper Sample on Colton Harris-Moore

Colton Harris-Moore


The tales of the ‘Barefoot Bandit’ grew in the twenty-first century after numerous incidences of theft and break in the United States. Although at the end the main culprit, Colton Harris-Moore was arrested and sentenced to jail, many questions arise to what was the main drive towards the behaviors exhibited by Colton. Some have argued that Colton was just a mere criminal with a high intelligent quotient. However, this paper shows that Colton criminal behavior can be attributed to a biological disorder passed on during the prenatal phase. This paper discusses the background of Colton Moore and shows how the disorder played the young man sees an important role in some of the activities. The paper relates some of the behaviors exhibited by Colton and to Moffitt’s developmental theory.

Explanation of Case

Colton has been linked to more than a hundred burglaries that took place in Canada, Washington, and Idaho. Colton is famously known for stealing speedboats, bicycles, light aircraft, and automobiles. Colton knew how to drive aircraft by simply reading manuals and playing simulator computer games from a very small age. Although Colton would still plane, they would be finding later in a damaged in a different location. One example is in the case of the plane that belongs to Bob Rivers, which was found in Yakima Indian reservation site after some days after its disappearance. The plane was found in a very bad state (Pilkington, 2009).

Colton engaged in acts that would be considered as unnatural for most criminals. According to some of the local sheriffs, Colton could sneak into people‘s home to have a hot bath or steal ice cream present in the freezer. Later on, such behavior would escalate to the stealing of property and cash. Most people believed that Colton stole only what was needed, a behavior noted by survivalists. For example, Colton allegedly stole a computer and credit card just to order a $6,500-night vision goggles and bear mace. In May 2010, Colton left behind $100 and a note in one of the veterinary clinics in Washington. What the money left behind was supposed to take care of the animals that were present in the clinic (Pilkington, 2009). Colton wrote his name and the alias name and stated specifically where they could locate his position.

            In June of the same year, Colton Moore became the major suspect in a series of vehicle thefts in Illinois (Schmitt, 2012). Colton left behind a trail that could be easily followed by police officers. Additionally, numerous burglary thefts were recorded in this region during this period. One example was a burglary noted in Karl Memorial Hospital and the trace of the SUV vehicle that had been missing for some time. Similarly, another truck that had been recorded to be missing was found in the subsequent days (Schmitt, 2012). A month later a single engine plane that had been reportedly stolen months ago was found crashed in the Bahamas alongside the shores of Great Abaco Island. After this incident, the population in these areas had recorded several burglary incidences though the suspect was never found. The Bahamas police officers placed some poster around town. Only one bartender managed to recognize Colton. The barman stated Colton was seen wearing a cap over the shaved head and was barefoot. An indictment from Washington was later released the same month over the stealing of a plane in Washington. The Federal Bureau of Investigation placed a $10,000 bounty on the head of Colton Moore (Schmitt, 2012).

            Colton criminal notoriety was much based on leaving footprints on the scene of the crime giving him the name ‘Barefoot Burglar’ and ‘Barefoot Bandit’. In the year 2010 police found footprints at an airport after a plane had been stolen. Colton also left a message for the police telling them “c’ya” which is a common phrase suggesting an upcoming encounter. In the scene where the plane crashed, police found chalk outlines of feet that had been drawn on the floor of a grocery store. Colton immediately took over the internet attracting a huge following of about 60,000 people. Later on, several movies and plays showing Colton’s character were produced in cinemas (Colton Harris-Moore, 2016).

            Colton was arrested in July 2010 at dawn in Harbor Island in the Bahamas. Local police officers found a trail of a boat that had been stolen in Great Abaco. Colton had attempted to flee the location of the crime but stopped once the police shot in the air. Before being arrested, Colton threw his computer into the water and placed a gun on his head (Pilkington, 2009). Colton informed the police that his intention was to go to Cuba or any other country which never had an extradition treaty with the United States. In such countries, he would have become safer, and the American police would never follow him. The police managed to talk him out of killing himself and arrested Colton Moore). Colton stated that his mother opted for such a move. The reward money was equally distributed among the people who aided the arrest of Colton Moore.

            On July 13, 2010, Harris Colton Moore pleaded guilty for several offenses one being the illegal entry and landing a plane into the Bahamas without following due procedures and permission. Colton was sentenced to jail for three months with the option of paying a $ 300 fine. The mother paid the money on the same day. Colton was released but immediately taken into custody for the second time. This time, it was to face the criminal charges leveled against him in the United States and more specifically in Washington (,2016).

            On his way to Washington to face the charges leveled against him, Colton was to be placed in handcuffs and leg irons during his transfer to Washington where an arrest warrant had been previously issued. The court set a deadline on which his case was to be heard. However, Colton waived this right allowing more time for both the prosecution as well as for his defense team. In November of the same year, Colton pleaded not guilty on several charges. The charges included being a fugitive of the law, being in the possession of a gun and interstate transportation of a plane without having a professional pilot license. One of Colton associates known as Harley Davidson pleaded guilty of assault and burglaries and was sent to eighteen months in prison. The prosecution team wanted Colton to be sentenced for a total of six years (Pilkington, 2009). However, the court recommended that Colton be sentenced for a total of ten years to include all the other charges that were labeled against him. The defense team had cited psychiatric challenges, especially in his childhood. Colton pleaded guilty of all accounts labeled against him and the court decided to send him to prison for a total of seven years in Island County. In prison, Harry Colton Moore stated that he intended to study aeronautical engineering after his release in prison.

Background of the Offender

Colton Harry Moore was born to Gordon Moore and Pamela Wohler. At twenty months Colton started showing signs of temper tantrums and a lot of acting. The psychiatric examination showed that Colton seems to challenge his father when they came home. The pediatric examination revealed that the Colton was well developed at the infancy stages although he seems to express behaviors associated with developmental delay. At three years Colton speech became a major concern for the mother, and she decides to seek medical intervention. Colton father was never present at all time, seeing them periodically during his growth (Pilkington, 2009). The main reason was that Colton parents were never officially married. However, it is important to note that Colton mother had suffered from domestic violence at the hands of Colton’s father, Gordon Moore. Gordon Moore was in contact with Colton up to the age of twelve to thirteen before his father left them.  Colton’s father was alcoholic and was very rough with them indicating high levels of violence and aggression to members of his family. Colton notes that his father became more aggressive when he drank alcohol.

Hs father had more than twenty arrests for engaging in violent activities. Colton mother remarried when he was only four years. This time, his mother married a heroin addict by the name of William Kohler. Kohler had also been involved in numerous criminal activities, and this would significantly affect the growth and development of Colton. Kohler later died of a drug overdose. The loss of Kohler had a significant effect on the life of Colton, who saw that all important people from his life were quickly dying or abandoning him. After his stepfather death, Colton is noted to have come back home with an injury which he never understood how he got it. Medical records show that Colton had high levels of metabolism and was always hot. He was diagnosed with thyroid hormone, but it was never treated. Colton was severally taken to hospital with different injuries. The parents were noted to be drunk in both cases and had little information on what was going on with their child. The injuries seem to have originated from the parent negligent behavior. At some point in their life neighbors had to call up child services since his father was constantly abusing him. His father even attempted to strangle him during an argument ion one of the barbecues that they had organized (Adler, 2011).

Colton mother revealed the Colton had refused to undergo a brain scan at two years of age. He attributes the bad behavior that has been shown in Colton to bad peer influence from friends whom he spent the most time with. His mother also stated that the death of Colton’s father and his dog severely affected him. Colton’s mother notes that conceiving Colton was not easy as she had failed to in the previous five years. It had taken the intervention of a fertility specialist before she got pregnant. Colton mother was a chronic drinker even during his pregnancy period. In fact, she notes that she continued drinking a total of 2-3 beers on a daily basis. Additionally, she smoked close to four cigarettes. Colton mother notes that Colton has an older brother who he has never met. Colton’s mother notes that the elder son suffers from anger issues as well as difficulty in having difficulties in speech, a condition that is also noted in Colton. Colton never came home with any friends but talked very little of his girlfriends to his mother. Colton developed an interest for planes at a young age.

However, his mother indicates that Colton showed some disconnect in life. He rarely listened to teachers in school, and would constantly altercations. Sometimes, Colton could break things in the house for no reason. In the psychiatric evaluation conducted, Colton notes that he was not the one who broke the items. He noted that his mother was the one who broke the items immediately she came home drunk.  Colton notes that he started leaving in the wild immediately he had turned seven years (Adler, 2011). He would constantly break into people home and stole blankets food and water before deciding to disappear in the forest for a given number of days. By twelve he had already been convicted, three times.  Later on, it was discovered that Colton had once been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, depression, and intermittent explosive behavior. Each of the time that he was arrested and convicted, he stayed for a total of ten days in the nursing centers. However, in 2003, he was sentenced for more than a month for stealing a camcorder. This was the beginning of the rise of the said individual in criminal activities.

Explanation of Theory

                        Terry Moffit’s development theory of crime explains the case of Colton Harris-Moore.  The theory proposes that there are two types of offenders. They are the adolescent-limited offenders and life course persistent offenders (Bruinsma, 2014). The former are associated with criminal behavior during their adolescent stage while the latter are associated with criminal behavior from an initial age. Colton Harris-Moore is classified under life course, persistent offenders. There are several reasons that best explain the causes of lifetime course persistent offenders. The theory associates this behavior with both biological and social factors.  Biological factors include brain injury, brain activity, and minor brain deformities during birth, especially those associated with fetal development. Social factors are associated with abuse, neglect, socioeconomic status and deviant parental behavior (Bruinsma, 2014). All of these features have been seen in Colton Moore Harris. All the biological and social factors are described below.

Colton harries Moore suffers from fetal alcoholic spectrum disorder. Her mother used to take high levels of alcohol before and after she gave birth to him. The disease is passed via the placenta and causes serious neurological damage in children if it left untreated. When children grow up with these effects through adulthood, the symptoms became more pronounced. All children who suffer from this disease will have mental, physical and neurological problems shortly. The effects became worse if the environmental surrounding the children becomes more unfavorable. It is widely known that the behavior of a child will largely depend on genetics and environmental conditions. The alcoholic fetal syndrome is commonly associated with certain traits. They include sleep disorders, higher than normal levels of pain tolerance, mental retardation, poor judgment, little or no room for moral judgment, developmental speech problems, autistic traits and social problems (Abel, 2012). The severity of the condition will vary depending on the level of the disease in the child. Early diagnosis of the disease can help alleviate some of these problems.

The environment has been identified as one factor that has a huge role to play in the manifestation of this disease. Every child is always born with certain predispositions. If they grow up in a better environment, then most of these conditions easily become manageable. Children with parents who show any criminal activity are at a higher level of becoming criminals in the latter years (Abel, 2012). Biological modes of disposition have also identified that the mood of children is revealed throughout their childhood. The children temperament will always grow throughout their childhood. If the child is exposed to harsh tempers, then they are more likely to take up such behaviors. Children born to parents who have been taking alcohol and might have been physically abused showed high signs of engaging in crime. Higher levels of crime are also noted when the parents are discovered to be chronic smokers. Maternal rejection and violence by either party of the parents also increase the chances that one will engage in criminal activities in the future.

Cognitive factors also have an important role to play in children who show signs of engaging in criminal activities. Language deficiencies and antisocial behavior have been associated with high levels of crime or have a direct link to delinquency from a very young age. Language deficiency has been associated with peer rejection especially in school and another environment. There also exists a relationship between intelligent quotient and crime. People with low IQ are more likely to engage in crime. However, the difference in IQ levels helps show how people with different IQ levels will engage in crime. Those showing a higher average IQ will steal or engage in crime in a cleverer manner as compared to other people. Lastly, certain disease conditions associated with depression disposed children to crime. Attention Deficit Hyper Syndrome Disorder commonly abbreviated as ADHD has been associated with high levels of crime. This is because of the different symptoms associated with the condition. The conditions include increased temperament and aggression (Abel, 2012).

Application of Theory

Various symptoms and behaviors associated with Moffit’s theory of development. The first aspect is related to biological factors associated with damage to the brain resulting in fetal alcoholic syndrome. At three years of age, Colton had a speech related problem. The mother notes that she normally took between 2-3 bottles of beer on any given day before she got pregnant. Therefore, there is a very high probability that Colton suffered from this disease since the mother was an alcoholic before she gave birth to him. Additionally, the psychiatric evaluation confirmed that Colton was never diagnosed with the disease from a young age and, therefore, risked developing all symptoms associated with the fetal alcoholic syndrome. Another common symptoms that were shown by Colton from a young age included lack of sleep at a young age. His mother notes that Colton only slept for three to four hours, yet he was only an infant.

Colton also showed high levels of pain tolerance. This can be classified under social factors. By the fact that Colton could steal planes from different areas and drive them across the sky and crash them severally shows signs of an individual who has very high tolerance levels towards pain. It has also been identified that Colton had social problems from a very young age (Adler, 2011). He rarely brought any friends at home and showed very high levels of anti-social behavior.

Additionally, most of his behaviors can be linked to an individual who has no room for moral judgment. For example, he broke into people home to steal ice cream something which he could easily be given if he had walked up to the door.  Furthermore, fewer criminals will be involved in criminal activities and leave behind a message for the police as shown by Colton. Such activities show very low levels of judgment. Additionally, Colton left home at a young age to go and live in the wilderness. This is also another symptom of an individual suffering from poor levels of judgment.  In other words, Colton exhibited behaviors associated with poor indecisive decision making. Another major sign that has been associated with people suffering from fetal alcoholic syndrome is the presence of suicidal thoughts. When the police finally catch up with Colton, he attempts to kill himself. However the police convince him to let go of such thoughts before arresting him (Adler, 2011).

The environment in which Colton grew played a significant role in allowing most of the criminal activities that Colton was engaged in. Colton’s father and stepfather were criminals who had violated laws severally and had more than once been arrested by the police. Therefore, it goes without saying that Colton was more likely to engage in criminal activities since the most important people in his life were already criminals. Colton also witnessed very high levels of abuse by the different fathers present in his life; such actions contribute to the bad temperament as well as the antisocial behavior witnessed in Colton. Children who were victims of violent emotional abuses are more likely to engage in crime to hide the effects of what they feel from inside (Adler, 2011).

Cognitive factors that fall under environmental factors also played an important role in showing the behaviors that were associated with Colton. From the psychiatric analysis, it can be said that Colton had an average IQ. However, some of his behaviors are associated with high criminal thinking. For example, Colton left a foot trail for the police to follow. He would also still in the same neighborhood for a couple of days before leaving to another area. Most criminal would normally engage in crime and disappear to the neighboring. Most of them would also never leave a trail which could easily be traceable back to them (Oppmann, 2010). Colton also showed that he had social and language deficiencies, something that has been greatly linked to criminal activities.

Another common disorder associated with Colton was the expression of a disease condition associated with depressive symptoms. For example, it was noted that numerous depressive conditions were associated with Colton.  From childhood, he was diagnosed with depressive conditions such as high temperament, aggression, and depression. From a very small age, Colton was diagnosed with certain depressive conditions that are similar to ADHD. The psychiatric evaluation revealed that on two occasions, Colton had exhibited such behaviors. However, he denied engaging in such behaviors. On one occasion, Colton broke everything that was present in the house and later blamed it on her mother. In another incident, Colton was involved in numerous altercations in school. In the end, Colton would still blame other parties for his misgivings (Adler, 2011).

In conclusion, Colton is an example of an individual and the best example of someone who engages in crime because of a biological and environmental factor. The best theory describing Colton behavior is Terry Moffit’s development theory of crime. More specifically the lifetime course associated disorders. Colton can thus be said to be suffering from the fetal alcoholic syndrome. The disease was passed by his mother who was an alcoholic. The disease affects an individual in many different ways and more specifically the psychological aspects. When environmental factors, are linked to the above situations, the condition becomes more of a criminal nature. Therefore, the criminal activities associated with Colton can be linked with biological and environmental factors.


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