Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested on Thursday morning at a remote property in central New Hampshire. Maxwell is accused of helping to recruit and groom young girls for her longtime associate Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender. In an indictment, she is described as participating in “the sexual exploitation and abuse of multiple girls,” including some as young as 14.
Epstein was found unresponsive in his New York jail cell last August; his death was ruled a suicide but has been the subject of widespread suspicion. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Maxwell—who was also depicted as a sinister and cryptic figure in Filthy Rich, the recent Netflix docuseries about Epstein—have been unknown publicly since last year.* FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge William Sweeney said at a press conference on Thursday that the bureau has been “discreetly keeping tabs” on her, and that she has “slithered away to a gorgeous property.”
That gorgeous property is in the charming but unassuming town of Bradford, New Hampshire, which happens to be 13 miles from where I live. Like most small towns around here, a few expensive second homes are tucked away amid the modest ranch homes and farmhouses. But with no destination lake within its borders, Bradford is not a major vacation hot spot within the state—and is an unlikely hideaway for a notorious British socialite.
By early afternoon on Thursday, the town of 1,650 people was crawling with journalists and photographers. Everyone was talking about the morning’s arrest, but information was scarce. No one at local restaurant Pizza Chef had heard anything. At Lumber Barn, employees were refreshing the news online like everybody else. Dunkin Donuts already had a firm protocol for dealing with reporters. (The protocol was: Get out.)
An employee at the Market Basket grocery store in nearby Warner said law enforcement used the parking lot there as a staging area, starting as early as 5:15 a.m. (They parked in the employee section of the lot, and one officer sneered, “We’re selling real estate” when an employee questioned them.) The officers—with plates from as far away as New York—pulled out sometime after 8 a.m. and drove west toward Bradford, she said.
Maxwell was arrested at a property that is remote even for Bradford, several miles from the town center. A large stone engraved with the letters “TUCKEDAWAY” stands at the foot of the property, with a locked metal gate blocking the gravel driveway up to the house. A large man with a British accent who declined to give his name strode down the driveway to greet reporters and deliver the familiar message: Get out.
Across the street at a much more modest house perched directly on the road facing the Maxwell property, neighbor Dick Morris was regretting that he had dashed out on a quick errand in the morning and missed the commotion of the arrest. He had seen two small planes buzzing the area for hours in the morning. Morris has lived in his house for 20 years and was friendly with the long-time owners of the home, who according to Zillow sold the house a few years before Maxwell bought it for $1,070,750 in December. He met the British man only briefly and said he was a “pleasant guy” who described himself as a family friend. There was so little traffic in and out of the property that Morris assumed it was a vacation home.
The home’s real estate listing touts it as “an amazing retreat for the nature lover who also wants total privacy,” and boasts of its cathedral ceilings, gourmet kitchen, and “a fabulous barn for hoedowns, square dances, and hay rides!” Morris said the original main building on the 156-acre property was a simple farmhouse, which has since been renovated and now serves as a guest house. He hadn’t been invited up to the home since his friends moved out, but he didn’t expect to be. “This is a place where people keep to themselves,” he said. He was nonplussed about the notion that he had been living across the street from an accused sex criminal. “It doesn’t freak me out,” he said. “She was just trying to keep herself out of prison.”
Another neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has lived next door to the Maxwell property for two-and-a-half years but never saw Maxwell. He wore a handgun on his hip, but when he saw another reporter approaching, he covered it up with his T-shirt, “to look a little friendlier,” he told me. He said he was carrying the weapon because he’d recently seen black bears on his property. “I don’t want this,” he said, eyeing the row of reporters’ and photographers’ cars with out-of-state license plates lining the gravel road. “I moved here for privacy.”
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Correction, July 6, 2020: Due to an editing error, this piece originally misstated the name of the Netflix docuseries about Jeffrey Epstein.