The morning of Sunday, December 27, 2009 dawned bright and sunny, albeit quite chilly. Nathaniel would be driving towards Dublin to see his mother Dolores for a holiday lunch at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaoire. Saoirse and her family had arrived the day before and were staying at a hotel in Ballsbridge, not very far from the Royal Marine. Sean would be arriving with some of his family to the Royal Marine in anticipation of seeing Dolores. Alex and his family, in Ireland for the holidays, were also looking forward to seeing Dolores and other Maxwell family members.
Dolores' and Alex's simple plans they had made to see each other after almost two years were disregarded and discarded by Ethan. Ethan made sure that this visit would only happen under his control and with his permission, just like the attempted visit to Dolores by her daughters in November, and just like the visit to Dolores on December 3 by Saoirse.
So following Ethan's instructions, family friend Duane Matthews arrived at the Ramada Inn in Bray at the appointed time, 1:30pm, to pick up Dolores. She was to be driven there by Ethan from his house, less than five minutes away.
Duane Matthews waited at the Ramada in vain for Dolores. He called his wife at 1:45pm to let Alex know she wasn't there. At 12:54pm Saoirse texted Duane, giving him Dolores' mobile number and asking him to call her to find out where she was:
“Duane, Saoirse here could u please call dollers at [number redacted] to ask where she is that Alex and his family are waiting let me no how u make out ta Saoirse”
Duane called Dolores immediately. His call was answered, not by her, but by Ronan. Dolores was not allowed access to her own phone at this point. Ronan informed Duane that he, Ethan and Dolores were going to Johnny Fox's up the Wicklow mountains for lunch for 3pm. No explanation was given.
The Maxwell children and their families decided to still meet at the Royal Marine. Duane and his family met them shortly thereafter. He described how Ethan had called and texted him in the meantime, calling him a “Maxwell pawn” and laughing and goading at Duane, and how Ethan had bested them and prevented the meeting. The Maxwell children discussed what to do. Going to Johnny Fox's was not an option; all believed it was false information, as was later confirmed. Calling the Gardai at this point seemed useless; no one knew where Dolores was, apart from in Ethan's car. It was decided to stay at the Royal Marine and not pursue it further that day.
Saoirse and her husband privately considered going to Ethan's house to wait for Dolores, and/or calling the Gardai. In the end they decided to wait for Geoffrey Blair, the HSE Elder Abuse Caseworker to return from holiday, and report the incident to him. It was thought that this latest episode would highlight and confirm what was happening, and would give weight to Saoirse's fears. They deeply regret that decision to this day.
Sean also tried calling Dolores. Her phone was once again answered by Ronan. Ethan was speaking to Sean in the background, mocking and making reference to Sean's in-laws concerning a matter that he should have known nothing about. It is believed Ethan gained knowledge of this through abusing his ability to access records as part of his employment with a government agency.
After visiting with each other until the early evening, the Maxwells left the Royal Marine. Saoirse and her family began the drive back to Connemara. Ethan wasn't quite done yet. On the way home, Saoirse received a call from Sophie. The call went like this:
Sophie: Where are you?
Saoirse: I'm on my way home.
Sophie: I have to go, I'm meeting someone for a drink.
Saoirse and her husband thought it a strange call and assumed it was Sophie acting on Ethan's orders to ascertain her whereabouts. This was followed a few minutes later by a hang-up call to Saoirse. [Editor's note: See here for another example of Ethan using these techniques.]
This hang-up was shortly followed by a text at 7:31pm from Ethan:
“A decision has been made to report one of your brothers for child sexual abuse of me for a number of years during the 1980s. Unlike in your alleged case, there were several witnesses outside the family who live locally even to this day. You may wish to forward this message. Statements will be made over the coming hours / days.”
Ten minutes later he broadcast a similiar text to at least two of his brothers:
“A decision has been made to report one of your brothers for child sexual abuse of me for a number of years during the 1980s. Unlike in allegations re your father, there were several witnesses outside the family who live locally even to this day. You may wish to forward this message. Statements will be made over the coming hours / days.”
These messages were ignored. As before, we make note of the depersonalised reference to his parents (in this case Cecil), and the suggestion from Ethan that the receipient forward the message.
December 27th ended without Dolores seeing her children and grandchildren apart from those Ethan allowed her to see: himself, Ronan and possibly Sophie. Dolores was isolated, not allowed to answer or use her phone, and unable to prevent Ethan from over–riding her desires and plans. Still, Saoirse felt that such egregious and blatant control of Dolores by her youngest son could only give the HSE Elder Abuse more reason to intervene to ensure her safety.
[Editor's note: Sophie visited Ethan, Ronan and Dolores the next day, and talked to Saoirse on the phone that evening.
We look at that in the next part of A Christmas Story, where Sophie Sorts It Out.]