LEWISTON — Maureen Catalano had planned to spend Friday afternoon meeting with police to talk about violent threats made on Facebook against her son, Dax.
Instead, she spent it sitting at Dax's hospital bed at Maine Medical Center, hoping he would recover quickly from a near-fatal beating he received Tuesday afternoon in the Lewiston Mall parking lot.
The beating, she said, was a direct result of Facebook threats.
Jacob Estes, 18, of Auburn has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with the beating. He made his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston on Friday.
"This wasn't an everyday thing, that they were talking to each other," Catalano said. "It was a conversation that took place over a period of time. They didn't even know each other."
Catalano and Estes met for the first time Tuesday afternoon in the Lewiston Mall parking lot, she said.
After school on that day, Dax Catalano, 16, had taken his 17-year-old girlfriend to the China Super Buffet. They were confronted there by the girl's 17-year-old former boyfriend, another minor and Estes.
According to police, Estes punched Catalano and the two began fighting. Catalano was knocked to the ground and had stopped defending himself while Estes climbed on him and continued the beating, according to the arrest affidavit.
He didn't stop until a passer-by yelled at him. Then he stood, kicked Catalano in the head and fled, police say.
Estes has been charged with Class B aggravated assault. In court Friday afternoon, Judge John Beliveau set bail at $5,000. A plea hearing is scheduled for June 30.
"These are very serious crimes, serious injuries," Beliveau said. "And the motive, it appears, is kind of ridiculous, under the circumstances."
Estes, who graduated from Edward Little High School last year, had enlisted in the U.S. Army and was scheduled to begin boot camp training on March 21. That's up in the air now, Beliveau said.
Catalano was taken to Central Maine Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon, according to police reports. His mother said he was being treated for a broken skull until swelling and a massive blood clot were discovered in his head. He was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland on Tuesday night.
"He almost died there," Maureen Catalano said. He was released from surgery at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and has since been recovering. So far, doctors have not found any permanent brain damage.
"I don't think kids understand," his mother said. "It's not just the threatening itself. Lets face it. This kid, Jake, ready to go into the military, he's ruined his own life. So not only are you ruining the people you've attacked, you are ruining your own future. All over what, a girl? Is it really worth it?"
Catalano said she learned about the Facebook threats in January, soon after they began. Her son had started dating a new girl and her ex-boyfriend wasn't happy about it.
"You know teenagers," she said. "They think they can handle it on their own."
The Facebook messages began on Jan. 7 and continued through Feb. 21, she said.
"Dax had never met this kid in his life, and this was Jake: 'I'm gonna kick your teeth out, bitch, then I'm gonna cut your f-ing hands off,'" she quoted. "That was the first message he wrote to my son. And Dax responded, 'Bitch, I don't even know you.'"
She was alarmed enough to contact Lewiston police and school officials. They took a report and had planned to meet later to discuss the threats.
"And then, Tuesday happened," she said.
She hopes parents will use her family's experience as an example.
"They don't want you to, but you have to watch their Facebook," she said. "You have to watch what they're saying, and you have to know."