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 Entwistle (neé Souza) (d. 20 January 2006)
Children Lillian Rose Entwistle (d. 20 January 2006)
Parents 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; 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 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]

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.

On 23 January, Trooper Robert Manning of the Massachusetts State Police contacted Entwistle, by phone, at the home of his parents in Worksop. Entwistle told them that he had left his Hopkinton home at around 9 am EST three days previously 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. 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.

Entwistle's speedy departure from the scene of the deaths of his family was not the only reason authorities questioned his version of events. 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. Authorities suspected a financial motivation for them.

Investigations and evidence[edit]

Initial police investigation[edit]

On 21 January, the day after the murder is alleged to have been committed, police officers attended the Entwistles' home at 8:27 pm following up a call by Rachel's mother and a friend. The police however failed to notice the bodies of Rachel and Lillian after making only a cursory check. A second and more thorough search, the following evening, revealed the bodies which had been obscured by the bedding.[1]

On 23 January investigators contacted Entwistle at his parents' home in Worksop. According to reports, Entwistle told police that he had found the bodies of his wife and daughter at about 11 am on 20 January, and had no idea who had killed them.

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

District attorney's statement[edit]

The 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]

One week after the funeral of his wife and daughter, on 8 February 2006, Neil Entwistle was arrested by the extradition unit of London's Metropolitan Police Service at Royal Oak station. Initially refusing to agree to his extradition, Entwistle eventually waived his right to contest the extradition order and was flown 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.

A month later, on 28 March, Entwistle was indicted on two counts of murder, the illegal possession of a firearm, and the illegal possession of ammunition. On 11 April, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and was again ordered to be held without bail. Over the following months Entwistle's legal team, led by Elliot Weinstein, fought proposals by the prosecution to use DNA evidence and argued, in both cases unsuccessfully, to have the case dismissed.

In December 2006, nearly a year after the deaths of Rachel and Lillian Entwistle, officers at the Middlesex County jail where Neil Entwistle was being held found letters to his parents and to his legal team which, according to the addressees, indicated he was depressed and might be contemplating suicide; he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome.[3] As a result he was initially transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital for mental evaluation before being returned to Middlesex County.[4]

In the following months, Weinstein raised further (unsuccessful) legal argument requesting the suppression of evidence found in the family home. The basis for the motion was that Entwistle had not given police or prosecutors permission to enter the home without a warrant.

On 11 September 2007, Entwistle's legal team successfully requested that the trial, due to start on 1 October 2007, be rescheduled to allow the lawyers time to analyse the evidence. Later, on 14 November, Weinstein requested a further delay and the trial was then rescheduled to March 2008. Subsequently the illness of one of Entwistle's lawyers, Stephanie Page, led to a further delay before a new trial was finally set for 2 June 2008.

In early June 2008, Middlesex superior court began a lengthy juror selection process, punctuated by legal argument that the delay in the trial date and the high profile nature of the murders meant that the defendant would not receive a fair trial. Some media reported that potential jurors were indicating that they formed significant views on the defendant's guilt or otherwise prior to the trial.[5]

Trial and conviction[edit]

Entwistle's trial for double-murder began on 2 June 2008 in Woburn, Massachusetts.[6] He 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, on 26 June 2008. Judge Diane Kottmyer made it clear that this was a whole life sentence, subject only to a governor's pardon or successful appeal.

The formal legal fight in the trial ended on 23 June. After deliberating for nine hours over two days, on 25 June 2008 the jury found Entwistle guilty on the charge of first degree murder. He was also found guilty of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. 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, although Kottmyer had originally said that he would serve his sentences at Massachusetts Correctional Institution - Cedar Junction.[8]

Aftermath and appeals[edit]

Entwistle's conviction was automatically appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He has the right to appeal a number of times and the appeals process may stretch over several years.[9] In September 2008, it was revealed that he had arranged for a new lawyer to represent him in his appeal. His original lawyer, Elliot Weinstein, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and dropped the case to focus on recovery.[10]

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.[11]

Entwistle's 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".[12]

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.[13]

In June 2011 Entwistle launched an appeal against his conviction for murder. His legal team argued that two searches of the family home were carried out without warrants, contrary to federal and state constitutions, and the evidence seized as a result should have been suppressed during the trial. The appeal was rejected in August 2012. Entwistle subsequently made a final appeal to the US Supreme Court but this appeal was also rejected in January 2013. This decision means that Entwistle has now exhausted all his appeals and will now spend the rest of his life in jail.[14][15]

In December 2012 the British broadcaster Channel 5 aired a documentary detailing the case.[16]

Memorials[edit]

Rachel and Lillian Rose Entwistle were buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston, Massachusetts, with the name Souza on the grave.

Shaving incident and prison transfer[edit]

In August 2008, Entwistle had been tricked into shaving his head in an attempt to secure the protection of a white supremacist prison gang.[17] Instead of giving Entwistle protection, the gang had reportedly said: "It's a nice gesture on your part but we're gonna kill you."[18] Entwistle was put into protective custody inside the prison shortly afterwards. On 17 December, he was transferred to the medium security prison Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.[19] Department of Corrections spokesman Diane Wiffin stated that Entwistle's transfer was part of the state's inmate classification process that takes a prisoner's safety into account, confirming that the threats against Entwistle's life were quite serious.[20] Entwistle spent a total of five months in Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.

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. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ New lawyer will assist in Neil Entwistle appeal bid - BostonHerald.com
  11. ^ PCC rejects harassment claims from Neil Entwistle parents - Press Gazette
  12. ^ Parents of Neil Entwistle insist he is innocent
  13. ^ Heartless: The True Story of Neil Entwistle and the Cold Blooded Murder of his Wife and Child
  14. ^ Press Association (in Guardian newspaper 14 August 2012): Entwistle loses US murder appeal
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ : Documentary screened on Channel 5. Produced by Andy Webb
  17. ^ Boston News, Boston, Massachusetts News and Local Headlines - WCVB.com
  18. ^ Nouse.co.uk » Entwistle tricked by US prison gang
  19. ^ Birmingham Post - News - West Midlands News - Neil Entwistle transferred to new prison
  20. ^ DOC sends Neil Entwistle packing to Bridgewater lockup - BostonHerald.com

External links[edit]