Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Colton Harris-Moore, Tale of a Teenage Outlaw

'Momma Tried'

Pam Kohler's willingness to talk about her son, coupled with Colton Harris-Moore's age, has brought a lot of attention to the role of Colt's home life in his criminal exploits.

"Momma Tried" graphic
"Momma Tried" graphic
A Seattle store called Good Times Screen Printing Company attracted attention last year for selling shirts emblazoned with a picture of Harris-Moore and the words "Momma Tried" above it, in reference to the famous Merle Haggard song with the lyrics "No one could steer me right/but Mama tried."

Kohler, 58, and Colton's biological father, Gordon Moore, never married. The two separated when the boy was two years old, but Moore stayed involved in his son's life for years. Pam Kohler moved on and married a dairy farmer, who, according to court documents, was a heroin addict. He died when Colt was seven.

Colt was a difficult child and would frequently argue, says Pam Kohler. There was a "sort of disconnection" from the time he was in first grade. "He always did just what he wanted," she said in another interview.

Kohler has not been shy about publicly rooting for her son's fugitive freedom. "I hope to hell he stole those airplanesI would be so proud," she says.

As the mother of a fugitive, Kohler has worried to reporters that her son will be shot by police. She told Bob Friel that she's going to buy a bulletproof vest for him and will make him wear it, even if he doesn't want to. "Sometimes a mother has to put her foot down," she said.

There may be good reason for Kohler to worry about her son.

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