Speculation, intrigue descend on Bradford following arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell 

  • The Bement Bridge, a historic covered bridge, on Center Street in Bradford. The bridge, built in 1854, crosses the west branch of the Warner River. MARY STEURER—Monitor staff

  • Lois Kilnapp, manager of the town dump in Bradford, works in her office. MARY STEURER / Monitor staff

  • The front of Ghislaine Maxwell’s home. MARY STEURER / Monitor staff

  • A painted sign about a five minutes up the road from from Ghislaine Maxwell's property in rural Bradford. MARY STEURER—Monitor staff

  • The intersection of Main Street and New Hampshire Route 103 marks downtown Bradford. MARY STEURER—Monitor staff

  • The $1 million home where Ghislaine Maxwell was staying in Bradford sits on 156 acres and was advertised by Southeby's realty as a "stunning custom-designed Timber Frame home" that would serve as "an amazing retreat for the nature lover who also wants total privacy." —Courtesy

  • The $1 million home where Ghislaine Maxwell was staying sits on 156 acres along East Washington Road. Courtesy

  • The $1 million home where Ghislaine Maxwell was staying in Bradford sits on 156 acres and was advertised by Southeby's realty as a "stunning custom-designed Timber Frame home" that would serve as "an amazing retreat for the nature lover who also wants total privacy." —Courtesy

  • The $1 million home where Ghislaine Maxwell was staying in Bradford sits on 156 acres and was advertised by Southeby's realty as a "stunning custom-designed Timber Frame home" that would serve as "an amazing retreat for the nature lover who also wants total privacy." —Courtesy

  • The $1 million home where Ghislaine Maxwell was staying in Bradford sits on 156 acres and was advertised by Southeby's realty as a "stunning custom-designed Timber Frame home" that would serve as "an amazing retreat for the nature lover who also wants total privacy." —Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 7/11/2020 4:21:16 PM

Lois Kilnapp couldn’t help noticing when two men with British accents started visiting the Bradford town dump.

Kilnapp, who has been running the dump for the past eight years, supervises residents as they bring in their waste and recyclables every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

It wasn’t just the accents she remembers, Kilnapp said. The men were friendly – polite, even.

And they followed the rules. At the dump, there’s a place for everything. Visitors must sort their recyclables into specific containers for cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, glass and cans. Many don’t bother doing so, but the two men always did.

“They were real gentlemen,” she said. “And they did everything right.”

But revelations made last week led Kilnapp to wonder if there was more to the strangers – namely, that they may have actually been caretakers for Ghislaine Maxwell, helping her stay hidden on the outskirts of town.

Speculation has run high in the small town following the news that a woman who has risen to international notoriety had been living among them, perhaps for months.

Maxwell is the longtime associate and alleged accomplice of Jeffery Epstein, the disgraced financier who was arrested last July on charges of sex trafficking, and who ultimately committed suicide in federal custody.

The FBI found Maxwell in hiding on a 156-acre luxury property she had purchased in December in rural Bradford the morning of July 2. She has since been moved to a federal jail in Brooklyn, where she faces six counts alleging she helped Epstein groom and abuse young girls and women.

Many residents consider the arrest of an accused sex trafficker the “most sensational thing” that’s ever happened in Bradford, Kilnapp said.

“It’s almost like they’re starstruck,” she said.

Life in a small town

While the news cycle has for the most part left Bradford behind, locals still wonder what Maxwell was doing there in the first place.

Some 1,700 people live in Bradford, a town in western Merrimack County that covers about 36 square miles. The community is fluid, town selectwoman Marlene Freyler said. Many are transplants who moved in to start small businesses or retire. Freyler estimates as many as 600 live in Bradford exclusively in the summer, spending their winters elsewhere.

The area’s natural attractions draw visitors year-round, Freyler said. In the warmer months, tourists flock to Lake Massasecum, just a few minutes’ drive from the city center. In winter, travelers often stop by Bradford on their way to Mount Sunapee in Newbury or Pat’s Peak in Henniker.

Most of the town’s landmark buildings are clustered at the intersection of Main Street and New Hampshire Route 103 – the old town hall, the library, the police station and community center, among others.

Outside of the main strip, Bradford is rural. Many properties are residential, but others are host to farmland, lumber stores or various construction sites. Maxwell’s 156 acres, located at 338 East Washington Road, is much larger than the majority of lots in the area, with many occupying 10 to 20 acres of land. Still, the property is within walking distance of neighbors – one house sits directly across the street.

Maxwell’s home

A week after Maxwell’s arrest, 338 East Washington Road was serene. The lot was absent of traffic, and most passersby did not seem to find the property remarkable at all. One older couple in a classic car idled nearby for a few minutes, then continued on their way.

County, town and state records show Maxwell bought the property through an oddly misspelled LLC titled Granite Reality. An office building in South Boston, 155 Seaport Blvd, is listed as the LLC’s address.

According to the documents, Granite Reality purchased the land from Massachusetts lawyer Richard Yospin for $1,070,800 on Dec. 13. Yospin could not be reached for comment by press time.

An online listing names New London-based realtor Margaret Weathers as the agent who sold the property. Weathers declined to comment on the sale.

Two different houses sit on the land, public records show – the larger, a farmhouse-style home built in 2003, the second a cabin dating to 1800. The records list the property’s assessed value at $923,787.

The first house features two bedrooms and three bathrooms. At its center sits an open-concept great room with a cathedral ceiling and fieldstone fireplace. Windows on all sides overlook elaborate landscaping.

The cabin, which online listings describe as an “antique” Cape Cod home, includes two bedrooms and one bathroom. One photo of the cabin posted online shows a room with what appears to be an old cast iron wood stove and antique wall telephone.

A gate in the middle of the driveway keeps the buildings out of the view of visitors. Apart from faint tire tracks, there is no sign anyone was ever there – never mind that the FBI had paid a visit just a week before.

‘No one reallyknew anything’

Reporters swarmed downtown for days after Maxwell’s arrest, eager to chat up anyone they could, Freyler said.

One employee at Sweet Beet, the local farmers market, said a journalist was waiting to talk to her in the parking lot after she finished her shift.

Freyler said she tried her best to avoid the crowds that weekend, but the press seemed to be everywhere. She saw one reporter pacing up and down Main Street; another at Appleseed, a local diner. Outside the post office, she sneaked past someone from the London Times.

But most Bradford residents were as in-the-dark about Maxwell as everyone else, Freyler said. Some had never heard of her before.

Freyler said reporters were pressed to find anyone who knew anything about Maxwell or where she was living.

“I don’t think they got what they thought they were going to get when they came, because no one really knew anything,” she said.

Bradford residents can only speculate what brought Maxwell there. For one, it’s an easy place to live privately, Ellen Barselle, the town librarian, said.

“When you think about New Hampshire, you think about a place that’s really untouched,” Barselle said.

Freyler said an abundance of small businesses also makes Bradford relatively decentralized, and there are rarely occasions for the whole town to gather. Even the annual town meeting only draws about 125 people, she said.

“I’ve lived here this long, and I still don’t know half the people here,” Freyler said.

That means it’s not strange to see unfamiliar faces around town, she added. Maxwell could have been hiding in plain sight.

“She could walk freely on the road,” Freyler said. “No one would know who she  was.”


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