DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — As his body was slammed onto the ice and he was pummeled by fists, Alex Moulton, 19, thought he had died and had gone to heaven.
The Eastern Maine Community College sophomore had gone to meet a female friend Sunday evening on a snowmobile trail behind Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft when he was attacked by at least one of the girl’s male friends and was left unconscious on the trail.
“It was at the point where you just don’t feel the pain,” Moulton recalled Wednesday of the assault. “All I could think of was that I was dying; I was dead and I was a ghost.”
When he regained consciousness several minutes after the attack, Moulton found he was alone. “I crawled up to the road, then managed to stand up, and I limped over to the Bear’s Den and got help,” the young man said, referring to a local restaurant.
Moulton, whose face was swollen and bruised, was taken to Mayo Regional Hospital for treatment. Test results indicated he had no broken bones.
Dylan Sadlowski, 18, of Dover-Foxcroft was arrested Sunday night in connection with the incident and charged with assault. Sadlowski posted $200 cash bail and since has been released. His initial court appearance is set for Feb. 28. More charges may be pending and additional arrests may be made as the investigation continues, Dover-Foxcroft Police Chief Dennis Dyer said Wednesday.
Sadlowski could not be reached for comment.
Moulton recalled that he initially was hesitant when his friend sent him a text message and asked him “out of the blue” to meet her on the trail around 8 p.m. Those misgivings stemmed from his knowledge of some of the people she hung around with — including his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, he said. Acting on his intuition, Moulton said, he asked his stepfather, Wayne Roberts, to go with him just in case something was amiss.
When Moulton saw only the girl waiting for him, he said, he told his stepfather it was OK and Moulton started talking and walking with her. A few minutes later, Moulton said, he looked back on the trail and saw people off in the distance walking in his direction. When the girl stopped to tie her shoe, Moulton said, he realized she was stalling to allow the people to get closer. That’s when Moulton knew he might be in trouble, he said.
Among the group of people was Sadlowski, who Moulton alleged walked up to him and accused him of stabbing his friend. He said Moulton had pulled a knife on the friend.
“That never happened,” Moulton said.
He said he has never been in trouble with the law, has good friends and works at a local grocery store when he isn’t attending college in Bangor. The night Sadlowski’s friend was injured, Moulton said, he was home, and several friends and family members could verify that.
Police Lt. Scott Arno said the alleged stabbing occurred at a West Main Street home on Christmas Day, but the victim did not seek treatment until Jan. 4. It was a Mayo Regional Hospital Emergency Room nurse who reported the injury to police, he noted. The victim, a 19-year-old man, had a wound on the buttocks. The incident is under investigation, he said. Arno said there have been conflicting reports of whether Moulton was at the party.
Moulton has had no previous run-ins with the law, according to Dover-Foxcroft police. Whether Sadlowski has a juvenile record is not known because such information would be confidential under the law.
Moulton’s denial of his involvement in the stabbing did nothing to pacify Sadlowski, who obviously wanted to fight, Moulton recalled. Sadlowski reportedly told Moulton to move into the light on the trail where Sadlowski’s friends were waiting. Moulton said his first response was to stay and fight, but when Sadlowski allegedly said he had a gun and then reached behind his belt as though he was going to pull one out, Moulton made the decision to flee.
Sadlowski allegedly chased Moulton until the pair nearly reached the end of the trail on North Street, where the assault occurred, according to police reports filed after the incident. Moulton said he was grabbed from behind, tackled to the ground and placed in a chokehold as his head was slammed repeatedly onto the ice-covered trail.
The approximately 140-pound man said he tried to defend himself but was overpowered by the hefty Sadlowski.
“It was like an out-of-body experience,” Moulton said of the alleged beating. “While it was happening, I thought, ‘Does this kid know he is killing me?’”
Sometime during the assault, Moulton said, he lost consciousness.
“I thought I was already dead when I came to,” he said.
When he regained consciousness, Moulton recalled, he managed to get on his feet after several attempts, hollered for help, and crawled and limped to the nearest light, which was from the Bear’s Den Restaurant on North Street.
Someone on Spring Street heard Moulton’s yell for help and had called 911, according to his mother, Dottie Roberts. She said Wednesday that she wished she could find out who made the call to thank the person.
Roberts, who waitresses part time at the Bear’s Den, said God was watching over her son that night. The restaurant normally closes at 8 on Sunday nights, but it was open later that night because there were a couple of people finishing up their drinks, she said.
Moulton also believed God had a hand in his safety.
“I knew when I touched the door and could feel it that I was alive,” he said.
He was so cold and his face was so disfigured, he said, that his mother’s co-worker didn’t recognize him. He told the waitress that “they almost killed me” and he asked that she call his mother, he recalled.
“She said, ‘Well, honey, I don’t know who your mother is,’” and he said, “‘Dot, my mom’s Dot.’ That’s when she realized who I was and she called my mother,” he said.
The waitress, Dawn Webster, on Thursday confirmed Moulton’s account.
His mother and a Dover-Foxcroft police officer who responded to the 911 call arrived at about the same time, according to Moulton.
“It was God that saved him, because Alex really took a beating,” Dottie Roberts said.
Moulton said he believes there is something wrong with the justice system because of the fact that Sadlowski was released from jail so soon after the incident.
“I’m angry that he’s not where he should be,” he said.
His mother agrees. “I no longer feel that my family is safe here,” she said.