Ethan’s ashes now sit on the mantle in the Saylor living room, where his mother, father, sister and brother gathered this week to talk not only about Ethan’s death but his life.
His younger siblings, Emma, 23, and Adam, 21, recalled the frequent and lengthy voice mails he would leave them, sometimes singing his messages. “Love you more,” he’d tell them often.
“He was a good big brother,” Emma said.
With an IQ of 40, he still believed in Santa and would reach out to hold someone’s hand whenever he walked in the rain or on ice, said his mother, a 55-year-old nurse with a special education degree.
Once, when Ethan took a community college class geared toward special-needs students, he showed up with a laptop and beer in his backpack because he believed that’s what college kids did.
Ethan’s parents encouraged him to be independent, to go places and do things with his aides, whom he helped to hire.
They acknowledge he had a temper that sometimes led to outbursts like the one at the theater. Two weeks earlier, he and an aide had gone to a karaoke bar and had a great time, but Ethan didn’t want to leave at the end of the night In that instance, the bartender, waitresses, and Adam helped persuade him to go.
Patti and Ethan’s father, Ron, have both read through the documents, nearly 200 pages, and said many questions remain for them.
One of the most nagging: Did any of those officers know Ethan?
Ethan had a long-standing fascination with law enforcement. A photo shows him around the age of 9 dressed as a detective, complete with suit and sunglasses. He also had accumulated an impressive collection of badges and baseball caps emblazoned with titles such as “Police, “DEA,” and “Sheriff.”
“He would always say, ‘I am a good guy,’ ” his mother said.
At the same time, she knew that his obsession could be annoying to police. Ethan sometimes called 911 because he wanted one of his aides fired. Other times, he called to ask for a job application. Patti said officials at the sheriff’s department knew to call her back each time so she could assure them it wasn’t an emergency.
In his report about the incident, Sgt. Michael Easterday wrote that Jewell asked him to meet Rochford at the hospital. “He also informed me that the subject was Ethan Sailor (sic),” he wrote. “I was not familiar with Sailor (sic) by name, however, once it was explained where he lived, I was familiar with the history of calls for service at the residence.”
Since the death, four of the witnesses have contacted the family, including one who told them he keeps asking himself, “Why didn’t I intervene?”
In her statement, the witness with the broken ankle asked one of the deputies why “they didn’t just let him sit and watch the movie.”
He told her, she wrote, that the theater’s management wanted him out.
“I’m not a police basher,” said Patti, who took cookies to the sheriff’s office at the end of last year to thank the deputies for their patience with her son. “I don’t want revenge on these men. I don’t feel hatred for these men.”
But she said she wants answers — ones she doesn’t believe are in a report put together by the same agency that employs the deputies. Her family, along with national Down syndrome advocacy groups, have called for an independent investigation by Maryland officials into Ethan’s death.
“There’s a lot we don’t know, and if things continue on this present course, we never will,” Ron Saylor said.
Patti wants to know why the deputies didn’t listen to Ethan’s aide.
“I imagine that officer is asking himself the same thing: Why didn’t he wait?” she said. “There were many points along that entire process where they could have said, ‘A movie ticket isn’t worth this.’ ”
After Ethan’s death, sheriff officials returned to Theater 9 and stopped the movie that was playing. For the inconvenience, the report said, theater management gave patrons free movie passes.