The man accused of a brutal attack on a well-known Bridgton couple early Wednesday may have spent the previous night on their property after a bizarre encounter with the victims’ neighbors.

But police still have not said why they believe Michael Holden, 37, beat and stabbed Margaret Macdonald, 75, and her husband, Robert Macdonald, 77, inside the foyer of their lakefront home, and there is no suggestion in police reports released Friday that Holden knew his alleged victims.

The police reports and affidavits were released after Holden’s first court appearance in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court, where Judge Thomas E. Delahanty II ordered Holden held in lieu of $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 surety.

Holden responded to Delahanty’s questions, but otherwise did not speak. His attorney for the day, Stephen H. Shea, reserved argument over bail for a future date. If Holden is released on bail, he will have to comply with conditions including no use or possession of drugs or alcohol, no possession of any dangerous weapons, and no contact with the victims.

He is charged with two counts of elevated aggravated assault and three counts of burglary. All five charges are felonies, and the assault charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The burglary charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Holden has not entered a plea because a grand jury must first hear the case and decide whether to formally bring charges.

The victims were attacked shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, when Margaret Macdonald went outside to get their newspaper, court documents say. The attack occurred in the foyer of the home, and continued when Robert Macdonald confronted Holden as his wife lay motionless and bleeding on the floor, half-wrapped up in a rug.

Bridgton Police Chief Robert Stillman said the couple are well known and well liked in the community. The Macdonalds have run Macdonald Motors in Bridgton and Center Conway, New Hampshire. The Bridgton dealership moved into a new building on Route 302 in 1997, and the Macdonalds are fixtures around town.

The court documents also include new details about witnesses who said they saw Holden go onto the Macdonald property the night before the attack, suggesting he may have been there all night.

Margaret and Robert Macdonald

Police interviewed two witnesses who were working on the grounds of a condominium association Tuesday afternoon who said Holden appeared on their property soaking wet in a bathing suit without a shirt or shoes.

Claudia Bailey, 61, a resident of the Secret Harbor condominium association, said she was working on the complex grounds around 4 p.m. Tuesday with the complex’s maintenance man, Ryan Knable, 34, when they encountered Holden. The entrance to Secret Harbor is about 1,000 feet from the turnoff to Innisfree Lane, the private road where the Macdonalds live. Holden had a brief interaction with Bailey, police said.

“The male advised that he had ‘overshot’ where was going and said that he had swam from the beach,” police wrote in a report. Holden made Bailey uneasy so she asked Knable to get him off the property. Knable offered Holden a ride, and later told police that Holden was acting strangely and that he may have been on some type of “upper” or stimulant-type drug.

Knable drove Holden north on Brickyard Hill Road until Holden asked to be let out near Innisfree Lane. Holden asked for some cigarettes, which Knable gave him, and Holden walked down the wooded driveway toward the home, Knable told police.

Another neighbor told police she saw Knable drop off Holden and watched as he walked around the Macdonalds’ boat house and a nearby patio.

The attack began the next morning.

Robert Macdonald was the first to go outside. around 7 a.m., but he couldn’t find the newspaper, so he went back inside without locking his front door and continued to get ready for work.

When Margaret Macdonald went outside to look for the newspaper a short time later, she found it on a chair near the front door, which was unusual – the newspaper was usually left at the bottom of their front steps, she told investigators. Robert Macdonald said his wife was attacked from behind and beaten with an antique jade statue of a horse that was in the home. It wasn’t clear if she was outside when the attack began or had gone back into the foyer.

When Robert Macdonald approached the foyer, he saw his wife laying motionless on her side, half covered in a rug. Holden then attacked Robert Macdonald with a knife, stabbing him at least twice in the torso and once near his right ear, damaging nerves in his face.

Their injuries were extensive, police said. Robert Macdonald suffered a left eye hemorrhage, lacerations to his right ear from the stab wound, nerve damage to the right side of his face, a broken left orbital socket, injuries to his right eye, and two small stab wounds to his chest, among other injures.

His wife sustained four lacerations to her head that required 35 staples to close, an inter-cranial hemorrhage, a fractured skull, and significant blood loss that required a transfusion of about two pints of blood.

Police say they found Holden, shirtless and still without shoes, hiding behind the Macdonalds’ boathouse. He at first gave a false name, “Adam,” but an officer recognized him from prior encounters. Police said Holden had blood on his hands and feet at the time of the arrest, and did not put up a fight.

The suggestion that Holden was under the influence of a stimulant is supported by his girlfriend, Katrina O’Connor, 26, who said in a previous interview that Holden had been taking methamphetamine, a synthetic stimulant, and was up for at least two days before the alleged attack.

O’Connor said when she last saw Holden around noon Tuesday, he appeared disoriented or possibly in the midst of some type of mental break spurred by the drugs, she said.

“He wasn’t making much sense,” O’Connor said during a brief interview Thursday at the home of Holden’s grandfather on Kimball Road. “He told me he had something he had to do and said he’d be right back.”

Police took a sample of Holden’s blood after his arrest, which could be used to test for the presence of alcohol or other substances in his system. Police at first said Holden would be charged with possession of illegal drugs, but that charge was not filed by the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office and there is no mention of Holden possessing any drugs in the documents released in court.

One relative said Holden’s arrest followed years of problematic, escalating behavior.

Dennis Holden, 55, of Otisfield – Michael Holden’s uncle – said his nephew has a longstanding drug problem, and in recent years seemed to take advantage of his relationship with his grandparents, whom he lived with. Dennis Holden said his nephew has never held a steady job and relied on his grandparents for money, sometimes extracting payments by physically intimidating them.

Dennis Holden said that speaking out against a relative was a difficult choice, and that Michael Holden’s relationship with other people in the family, especially the grandparents who raised him, remains complicated. Although Dennis Holden said he would never want to embarrass his parents, he felt the need to speak out about his nephew’s history and troubling behavior toward them.

Early in Michael Holden’s life, his mother was hardly around, and his father was not always involved, either, Dennis Holden said. The work of raising the boy fell to his grandparents, who are now 80 and were still supporting their grandson financially before his arrest.

Dennis Holden said his nephew would punch holes in the wallboard, scream and yell and destroy property to get money or something he wanted. The uncle feared his nephew was becoming physically abusive to his grandparents, and said he reported his suspicions at least three times to two agencies.

“I know they’re afraid of him,” Dennis Holden said. “I don’t know how many times he kicked in my father’s door.”

Dennis Holden said he reported the suspected elder abuse to local police once, in July 2018, as part of a separate incident report, and then twice a couple of months later to the Department of Health and Human Services. But the two messages Dennis Holden said he left at the DHHS Lewiston office were never returned, and local police never called or followed up.

Stillman, the police chief, said the witness statement form that Dennis Holden filled out and included the apparent allegations of elder abuse was likely destroyed after the responding officer wrote his report in a computer system, a practice that was standard at the time. The department now preserves those handwritten forms digitally, Stillman said, but Dennis Holden’s original statement is likely lost.

That no one from the police or the state Department of Health and Human Services responded to Dennis Holden’s pleas is what he finds most frustrating now.

“I think I tried my best to try to see if somebody could intervene but I got nowhere. Why?” Dennis Holden said. “Why didn’t they come to my house and see me or come find me? I got nowhere. It takes a lot of nerve to walk in there and do this.”

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