Neil Entwistle

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Neil Entwistle
Born (1978-09-18) 18 September 1978 (age 36)
Nottinghamshire, England
Occupation Computer programmer
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment
Criminal status Incarcerated in Old Colony Correctional Center
Spouse(s) Rachel Elizabeth Entwistle (neé Souza) (d. 20 January 2006)
Children Lillian Rose Entwistle (d. 20 January 2006)
Parent(s) Clifford and Yvonne Entwistle
Conviction(s) 2 counts of murder in the first degree

Neil Entwistle (born 18 September 1978) is an English man convicted of murdering his American wife, Rachel, and their infant daughter, Lillian, on 20 January 2006 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole and is incarcerated at Old Colony Correctional Center in Massachusetts.

Background[edit]

Entwistle was born near Nottingham and attended the University of York, receiving a masters degree in electronic engineering. He grew up in Worksop with his parents Clifford and Yvonne, and his younger brother, Russell. His home was working class; his father was a coal miner and his mother a cook at a school cafeteria.

While at university, Entwistle met Rachel Souza, an American who was studying abroad. They married on 23 August 2003 in Plymouth. They then lived in Worcestershire, where their daughter Lillian was born on 9 April 2005. Entwistle worked in computing and his wife as a teacher of English, Drama and Theatre Studies at St. Augustine's Catholic High School in Redditch. After migrating to the United States, the couple stayed with Rachel's mother and stepfather, Joseph and Priscilla Matterazzo, in Carver, Massachusetts, before finding a house of their own in Hopkinton.

Murders[edit]

The bodies of 27-year-old Rachel and 9-month-old Lillian were found on 22 January 2006 in the master bedroom of the family's rented home where they had been living for only ten days. Autopsy results showed that Rachel died of a gunshot wound to the head and Lillian of a gunshot wound to the torso.[1] The bullet that passed through Lillian also pierced Rachel's left breast. The bullets were so small that the one in Rachel's head went undetected until the autopsy.

Hours after the deaths of his wife and daughter, Entwistle purchased a one-way ticket to London at about 5 am (EST) on 21 January and boarded a British Airways flight that departed Boston at 8:15 am.

Entwistle's speedy departure from the scene of the deaths of his family was not the only reason he raised suspicion. Entwistle's DNA was found on the handle of the same .22 handgun owned by his father-in-law that he told authorities he had only used once, months earlier, while practising at Matterazzo's shooting club. DNA matching that of his wife was found on the gun's muzzle. A set of keys to Materazzo's house were found in the car Entwistle left at Boston's Logan airport.

A search of Entwistle's computer revealed that, days before the murders, he had looked at a website that described "how to kill people", and searched for escort services.[2] Contrary to outward appearances, Entwistle had been unemployed since September 2005 and was indebted at the time of the murders. Though he claimed an income of $10,000 per month from an "offshore account" set up by his previous employer in the U.K., he had no such income or account. He was also more than $30,000 in credit card debt, and was under investigation by eBay for numerous fraudulent transactions. Authorities suspected a financial motivation for the murders.

Investigation and evidence[edit]

On the evening of 21 January, the day after the murder is believed to have been committed, police officers visited the Entwistles' home after Rachel's friend reported her missing. Though the police conducted a cursory inspection of the house, they failed to notice Rachel's and Lillian's bodies, obscured under a pile of bedding in the master bedroom. A second and more thorough search, the following evening, discovered their bodies.[1]

On 23 January, a Massachusetts State Police trooper called Entwistle at his parents' home in Worksop. The call lasted two hours and was recorded. Entwistle told the trooper that, on the morning of the murders, he had left his Hopkinton home at around 9am EST to run an errand, and that his wife and daughter had both been alive and well, in the bed in the couple's master bedroom. He claimed that when he returned, at around 11 am, he found both had been shot dead, and had no idea who had killed them. He covered their bodies with a blanket, and did not alert authorities.

Entwistle told the police that he was so distraught upon seeing the corpses of his wife and daughter that he decided to kill himself. However, because he was unable to bring himself to end his life with a knife, he drove the family car to his father-in-law Joseph Materazzo's house to get a .22LR caliber revolver. Finding the Materazzos' house locked, he told police that he then decided to fly home to England to see his parents.

Police subsequently named Entwistle as a person of interest in the investigation, and later issued an international arrest warrant. On 9 February 2006, Entwistle was arrested on a London Underground train at Royal Oak station, following a detailed search of his parents' house. After an initial request that he not be sent back to the United States, he later agreed to be extradited.

Middlesex County district attorney Martha Coakley (who successfully prosecuted British au pair Louise Woodward in 1997) told a press conference after Entwistle's arrest:

"On Thursday night (19 January 2006), Rachel was alive and had spoken with family members.

At some time on Friday morning, Neil Entwistle — with a firearm we believe he had secured at sometime before that from father-in-law Joseph Materazzo — shot Rachel Entwistle in the head and then proceeded to shoot baby Lillian, who was lying on the bed next to her mother.

We believe possibly this was intended to be a murder-suicide, but we cannot confirm that. Obviously the murder was effected, but the suicide was not.

What we believe happened next was that Neil Entwistle returned the gun to his father-in-law's home in Carver, then made preparations to leave the country. As we know, he was observed at Logan International Airport.

He purchased a one-way ticket on British Airways at approximately 5am on Saturday morning, January 22. He was on an 8:15 flight to the United Kingdom on that day.

Based upon forensic information late Tuesday afternoon that linked the .22 handgun owned by Joseph Materazzo both to Neil Entwistle and to Rachel, we believed we had probable cause to seek an arrest warrant for Neil Entwistle's arrest."

Arrest and events prior to trial[edit]

Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston, Massachusetts, with the surname Souza on their graves. They were buried in a single coffin.

On 8 February 2006, a week after their funerals, Neil Entwistle was arrested by the extradition unit of London's Metropolitan Police Service at Royal Oak station. Entwistle eventually waived his right to contest the extradition order and was returned to the United States on 15 February where he was arraigned at Framingham District Court and ordered to be held without bail at Middlesex County jail in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On 28 March, Entwistle was indicted on two counts of murder, the illegal possession of a firearm, and the illegal possession of ammunition. He pleaded not guilty. In December 2006, nearly a year after the murders, officers at the Middlesex County jail where Neil Entwistle was being held found letters to his parents and to his legal team which indicated he was depressed and might be contemplating suicide; he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome.[3] As a result, he was transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital for mental evaluation before being returned to Middlesex County.[4]

After numerous delays, the Middlesex superior court began juror selection in June 2008. There were concerns that, due to the high-profile nature of the case, Entwistle would not receive a fair trial. Some media reported that potential jurors were indicating that they had already formed significant views on his guilt.[5]

Trial and conviction[edit]

Entwistle's trial for double murder began on 2 June 2008 in Woburn, Massachusetts.[6] His legal team, led by Elliot Weinstein, unsuccessfully fought proposals by the prosecution to use DNA evidence. He also unsuccessfully fought to suppress other evidence found in the family home, due to the lack of a warrant. Entwistle called no witnesses, nor did he testify in his own defense. Reporters noted that he showed no emotion during the trial.

Entwistle was found guilty of all charges on 25 June 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, the mandatory sentence for first degree murder in the state of Massachusetts. Judge Diane Kottmyer made it clear that this was a whole life sentence, subject only to a governor's pardon or successful appeal. Kottmyer imposed two life sentences on the murder charges and ten years of probation on the firearms and ammunition charges, all to run concurrently, and the condition that he never profit from the sale of his story.[7]

Entwistle was first incarcerated at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.[8] In August 2008, Entwistle was tricked into shaving his head in an attempt to secure the protection of a white supremacist prison gang.[9] Instead of giving Entwistle protection, the gang had reportedly said: "It's a nice gesture on your part but we're gonna kill you."[10] Entwistle was put into protective custody ("AdSeg") as a result, and in December, he was transferred to Old Colony Correctional Center, a medium security prison in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.[11] The Department of Corrections confirmed that Entwistle's transfer was for his own safety, and that the threats against Entwistle's life were quite serious.[12]

Aftermath and appeals[edit]

Entwistle's conviction was automatically appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.[13] He arranged for a new lawyer to represent him in his appeal, since his original lawyer, Elliot Weinstein, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and dropped the case to focus on recovery.[14] On appeal, Entwistle argued that the searches of the family home were carried out without warrants, and the evidence seized as a result should have been suppressed during the trial. The appeal was rejected in August 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case in January 2013. Entwistle has thus exhausted all of his appeals.[15][16]

In October 2008, Entwistle's parents filed a complaint of harassment with the British Press Complaints Commission (PCC) against their local newspaper, the Worksop Guardian; the complaint was rejected.[17] His parents continue to insist that their son is innocent of the murders, that Rachel was the true killer and that he will eventually be cleared and released from prison. Entwistle's mother said after the trial: "The evidence points to Rachel murdering our grandchild and then committing suicide".[18]

In 2008, a book titled Heartless: The True Story of Neil Entwistle and the Cold Blooded Murder of His Wife and Child, was released by author Michele R. McPhee.[19]

In December 2012, the British broadcaster Channel 5 aired an Entwistle documentary entitled "The Man Who Didn't Cry".[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b US Police 'failed to spot bodies', BBC News, 11 June 2008
  2. ^ Leonard, Tom (6 June 2008). "Neil Entwistle lived a double life, US court told". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  3. ^ Dr. David Holmes Interview, Crime Investigation
  4. ^ Murder accused moved to hospital, BBC News, 4 January 2007
  5. ^ Fairness of US murder trial questioned, BBC News, 6 June 2008
  6. ^ Accused 'had plan to sell story'
  7. ^ Entwistle Given 2 Life Sentences, WCVB-TV, 26 June 2008.
  8. ^ Entwistle To Share Prison Walls With 'Mucko', WBZ-TV, 26 June 2008
  9. ^ Boston News, Boston, Massachusetts News and Local Headlines - WCVB.com
  10. ^ Nouse.co.uk » Entwistle tricked by US prison gang
  11. ^ Birmingham Post - News - West Midlands News - Neil Entwistle transferred to new prison
  12. ^ DOC sends Neil Entwistle packing to Bridgewater lockup - BostonHerald.com
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ New lawyer will assist in Neil Entwistle appeal bid - BostonHerald.com
  15. ^ Press Association (in Guardian newspaper 14 August 2012): Entwistle loses US murder appeal
  16. ^ "Neil Entwistle: British man convicted of killing his wife and baby daughter in rented Massachusetts home loses appeal for retrial | Mail Online". London: Dailymail.co.uk. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-20. 
  17. ^ PCC rejects harassment claims from Neil Entwistle parents - Press Gazette
  18. ^ Parents of Neil Entwistle insist he is innocent
  19. ^ Heartless: The True Story of Neil Entwistle and the Cold Blooded Murder of his Wife and Child
  20. ^ : Documentary screened on Channel 5. Produced by Andy Webb

External links[edit]