BRADFORD, NH — The East Washington Road property was barred by a locked gate about a quarter of a mile up the long driveway. Reporters staked out the entrance Thursday afternoon, some having been escorted from the property by a man open-carrying a pistol.
Vic Morris, who lives across the road at 337 East Washington, saw small, unmarked planes circling the property Thursday morning before he left for work.
“I thought they were doing a NASCAR up there,” Morris said.
Morris discovered later that day that Ghislaine Maxwell had been living there — only after news of her arrest by FBI agents early Thursday morning circulated. Maxwell is accused of grooming minors as part of a sexual abuse scandal for which Jeffrey Epstein was arrested a year ago and convicted. Epstein was found dead in jail in August 2019, awaiting new sex trafficking charges.
Morris said since the property changed hands he had never actually met Maxwell.
“I could have seen her at the Market Basket and I wouldn’t have known,” Morris said.
Several months ago he met a man who lived at the property. Morris said he didn’t catch the man’s name, though he spoke with a British accent. Morris and his English neighbor first met one winter morning when the man was plowing snow from the long driveway, across the road, and up onto Morris’s property.
“I could tell he was new at this,” Morris said.
Morris generally only saw a black pickup truck leave and enter the property, though there were occasionally other cars, he said.
“I never saw anything weird,” Morris said. “The weirdest thing I saw was the two planes this morning.”
Bradford is a town of about 1,600 people and bills itself as the gateway to the Lake Sunapee region. Most people have to drive out of the rural town in order to grocery shop and do other errands.
During a noon press conference on Thursday FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said that the agency had been discretely keeping tabs on Maxwell for months.
“We recently learned that she slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims suffered,” Sweeney said.
Maxwell was arrested on a federal warrant out of New York. At a brief video hearing Thursday before NH Magistrate Andrea K. Johnstone, Maxwell, through her attorney Lawrence Vogelman, requested her right to move the proceedings to New York. She remains in custody and is considered a flight risk.
The unsealed indictment against Maxwell accuses her of procuring girls as young as 14 for sex with Epstein. Maxwell allegedly befriended girls, spent time with them, and worked to normalize their sexual abuse, according to the indictments. Maxwell would undress around the girls, talk to them about sex, and even engage in the sexual abuse, the indictment states.
Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Maxwell groomed numerous girls, encouraging them to allow Epstein to pay for their travel and even education. This created an indebtedness, Strauss said. While Maxwell acted as their friends, Strauss said, she was planning on handing them over for abuse by Epstein, or abusing them herself.
“She enticed girls and delivered them into a trap,” Strauss said.
Maxwell is also charged with perjury for allegedly lying under oath during the investigation into Epstein. Strauss said Maxwell denied she was part of the abuse when questioned.
“She lied because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable,” Strauss said.
Epstein reportedly killed himself in his jail cell last year after he was arrested on charges of sex trafficking. He was convicted in Florida in 2008 on charges of using an underage girl as a prostitute and served a 13-month sentence.
Strauss said the government is seeking to have Maxwell detained, meaning held in prison pending trial. Strauss said she will speak to the Federal Bureau of Prisons about Maxwell’s safety behind bars.