Man Charged in Sailing Slaying Deceived Many, Prosecutor Says
SALEM, Mass. (AP) _ Martha Brailsford found Thomas Maimoni so credible in depicting himself as a friendly widower that she told her husband of their sailing plans, a prosecutor said Tuesday at Maimoni’s arraignment on charges he dumped her weighted body from the boat.
In front of a packed courtroom, authorities gave the first glimpse of how Maimoni, who was married at the time, and Brailsford went on a sailing trip that ended in her death. A lobsterman found Brailsford’s body six days later, an anchor tied to her ankle and weighted belt around her waist.
Maimoni and Brailsford were simply acquaintances, said Kevin Mitchell, an Essex County assistant district attorney.
Since Maimoni’s arrest, other women have come forward and told investigators they, too, were lured aboard the boat, believing he was a widower, Mitchell said. Once aboard Maimoni’s boat, ″his actions would become quite offensive in a sexual nature,″ Mitchell said.
Maimoni pleaded innocent to a murder charge in Salem District Court and was ordered held without bail pending a pretrial conference Aug. 2.
Mitchell said Maimoni’s deception continued when he first denied to police that he had taken Brailsford sailing July 12 in his 28-foot sailboat, the Counterpoint.
On July 15, police said, he changed his story, saying he took Brailsford from the Salem Willows Pier to the Winter Island Pier, where she got off the boat.
Asked by Brailsford’s husband, Brian, about her whereabouts, Maimoni coolly denied they had gone sailing, then suggested that the three of them go for a sail sometime, Mitchell said.
Maimoni later changed his account again, telling police Brailsford had been hit by the boat’s boom and thrown overboard as she tried to repair the mainsail.
Mitchell said Maimoni described the accident in great detail, telling police Brailsford had fallen overboard off Gloucester. He even offered to take police to the spot.
Police, though suspicious, felt Maimoni would not flee. But when police kicked in Maimoni’s door minutes after a lobsterman found Brailsford’s body Thursday, he was gone.
Maimoni had driven north to Maine. He was arrested Saturday after a suspicious neighbor reported that someone was apparently living illegally in a cabin. He later waived extradition.
Salem police Detective Sgt. Conrad J. Prosniewski admitted he was surprised Maimoni had fled, because he had initially seemed to cooperate with police.
″He was always there. He returned every call that I left on his message machine,″ Prosniewski said.
Prosecutors said that even before the alleged slaying, the balding, 46- year-old engineer threw sand in the eyes of many, deceiving his wife, co- workers, other women he lured onto his boat, even police.
Maimoni, who was married and had been divorced at least twice, told police he met Brailsford, a 37-year-old interior designer, several months ago while they were walking their dogs in the close-knit Salem Willows neighborhood.
Maimoni worked for the Parker Brothers game company as an engineer, but a search of his home reportedly found several business cards bearing his name with different firms and services on them.
Police also are checking discrepancies on his resumes, including one in which he stated he held a doctorate degree.