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In rare interview, the "Barefoot Bandit" speaks from prison

Colton Harris Moore , aka "The Barefoot Bandit," talks exclusively with "48 Hours" about his mother
The "Barefoot Bandit" talks about his mother's illness 03:00

ABERDEEN, Wash. --Colton Harris-Moore,the so-called "Barefoot Bandit" who taught himself how to fly planes as a teenager, before stealing and crash-landing five of them, told CBS News in a wide-ranging interview this week that he has a lot of "guilt."

His exploits separated him from his mother who, he says, is now dying of lung cancer.

"I am all she has and I spent years on the run and now I've been in here for five and a half years," he told Correspondent Peter Van Sant in an hour-long phone interview from Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

Watch 48 HOURS | MYSTERY "Chasing the Barefoot Bandit"

The interview is rare because Harris-Moore has never spoken before in public and, although millions know his face and his legend, very few have ever heard his voice.

Harris-Moore, who may be released as early as July, says his mother Pam Kohler is now hospitalized and apparently close to death. He is trying to raise as much as $308,000 to have her body preserved via cryopreservation.

The field of cryonics--freezing a human's body in hopes of someday giving them a second chance at life--has many doubters. Harris-Moore is not among them.

"The Barefoot Bandit" talks with "48 Hours" about his love of flying 01:41

During the interview, Harris-Moore --now 25 years old--came across as a confident young man.

"I have an absolute belief that anything is possible," he said. "Life is unpredictable and life is beautiful--I believe that."

"This is not science fiction or unrealistic," he said. "Pam will ultimately live and this is Pam's only hope for survival...I fear Pam isn't going to be alive for much longer. I can her hear life leaving her body."

Harris-Moore has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary funds but, at last check, he was far short of his goal. That has not dissuaded him from trying.

"We need a lot of help," he told Van Sant, directing followers to his funding page.

Harris-Moore said he last saw his mother about a year ago when she suddenly appeared at the prison.

"She was crying and she was in a wheelchair because she has arthritis in her feet," he said. "We were able to touch and talk and she said she wanted me to come home but I can't."

Addressing the critics who accused Pam Kohler of neglecting Harris-Moore when he was a child, Moore made it clear he stands by her.

"Pam is an amazingly kind woman who was burdened with alcoholism. She had a painful life, a hard life and I don't hold that against her," Harris-Moore said.

He said it was not Kohler who set him off on a crime spree that attracted tens of thousands of online followers, cheering him on during his exploits.

"I made my own choices," he said. "Pam wasn't in the co-pilot's seat with me."

The "Barefoot Bandit" talks about his future 01:37

During his life behind bars, Harris-Moore has been mentored by a Boeing Airlines executive whom he described as "a dear friend" and "incredible human being."

As for his future, he said he wants to design and build airplanes. "That's it," he said. "I love airplanes. It's an obsession and I was born with it."

A high school dropout, Harris-Moore said he eschewed formal education in favor or reading and learning on his own. "You can teach yourself anything. I write, design and read all the time, and I've been doing that for 5 and a half years," he said.

As for prison, Harris-Moore said it's never gotten easier for him.

"I've never become used to jail. Every day is like the first day," he told Van Sant. "Jail is just as painful five and a half years later as it was my first day...I really need to get out jail."

Although his official release date is January, 2017, Harris-Moore might be furloughed into a work release program this summer. He sold the life rights to his story to pay off his victims and says he did not receive one dollar of the reported $1.3 million deal.

"I did it [the deal] to pay restitution," he said. "I caused a lot of damage and I owed a lot of money."

"I don't like being well-known," he said. "If it was up to me, no one would know who I am."

Paul LaRosa is a producer for "48 Hours"

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