Maine is known for a lot of things… Beautiful coastline, plentiful lobster and overall scenic beauty. Whether we like it or not, we’re also known for some pretty bizarre headlines. While there have been quite a few over the years, one of our favorite news stories took place back in 1991.
The backdrop was the Maine State Library in August, who had a very strange guest take up residence.
In the early 1990s, employees of the Maine State Library led relatively normal work lives. They came into work, spent their day in the library, ate their homemade lunches and then left for home. But, in 1991, things changed.
After a hard morning at work behind desks and within the stacks of books, folks would head to the break room to get their home made lunches. The only problem? Sometimes they went missing. At first it was just a few things. A pudding cup here, a box of chocolate milk there. But, eventually it became more conspicuous. Still, there wasn't too much cause for alarm.
Soon, things like flashlights and extension cords began to go missing. Soon after that, furniture was moved as if someone had bumped into them in the night. But, the real search for the culprit began after an entire refrigerator and candy machine were completely cleaned out. The good news? The thief left a note of apology.
Security knew they were dealing with someone that could write, which ruled out any strange animals and (probably) ghosts. But, no matter how hard they searched there was nobody to be found. And, there were absolutely no signs of a break-in. No glass, no broken locks. Just missing pudding cups.
It was as if the mysterious person (or thing!) was a ghost - sliding in and out of the book stacks without any detection.
Former employees recall that, eventually, the strange guest became a bit of a personality around the building. Employees would yell messages of encouragement towards the ceiling, telling the strange guest to let them know if they needed anything.
When security had just about given up the search, they happened upon an area of the library that had previously been unsearched.
Tucked behind a 1 1/2-foot by 2 1/2-foot panel, they found the strange guest.
By the end of the whole ordeal, Andre Jatho and his friend managed to steal a variety of electronics, books (apparently, Twain, Joyce and Dickens were favorites) and even mail bags from which they created hammocks to sleep in.
Once captured, Jatho was charged with felony burglary and theft. However, after some lovely television appearances the public deemed him a bit of a novelty. He was good mannered and down-to-earth and he eventually walked away with only a suspended $500 fine and the requirement that he serve 25 hours at the local elementary school as a reading tutor.
Mainers certainly have a sense of humor.
If you'd like to meet Andre Jatho, you'll need to head to California. He was never able to find the right job in Maine and eventually went back home where his mother received him with open arms.
You could say his return was...overdue.
The most surprising part was how normal he was. The 20-year old man from California had been hoping to find work in Maine. When he didn't, he found he needed a place to stay. After meeting a man who suggested that the Maine State Library could provide a nice temporary home, he moved in and used the resources at his disposal while there. A flashlight here, an extension cord there meant that he could set up a little homestead for himself without any need to go outside. Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid guards one night, he lost his footing in the ceiling, falling down into a cramped 1 1/2-foot by 2 1/2-foot space.