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Neil Entwistle
Born 18 September 1978 (1978-09-18) (age 31)
Nottinghamshire, England
Conviction(s) 2 counts of Murder, 1st degree
(murders of wife Rachel and daughter Lillian)
Penalty Life imprisonment
Status Incarcerated in Old Colony Correctional Center
Occupation Computer programmer
Spouse Rachel Entwistle
(murdered by Neil)
Parents Clifford and Yvonne Entwistle
Children Lillian Entwistle
(murdered by Neil)

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

Contents

Early life

Entwistle was born near Nottingham and went to the University of York in England. His parents live in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

Aftermath of murders

The bodies of 27-year-old Rachel and 9-month-old Lillian were found on 22 January, 2006, in the master bedroom of the couple's rented Hopkinton, Massachusetts home where the Entwistles had been living for only ten days. Autopsy results showed that Rachel died of a gunshot wound to the head, and the baby died of a gunshot wound to the stomach.

Just hours after the deaths of his wife and daughter, Entwistle purchased a one-way ticket to London about 5:00 AM EST on the morning of 21 January and boarded a British Airways flight that left at 8:15 AM.

On 23 January, Hopkinton Police located Entwistle at the home of his parents, Clifford and Yvonne Entwistle, in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England. Entwistle told them that he left his Hopkinton home at around 9:00 AM EST three days previously to run an errand and that his wife and daughter were both alive and well and in the bed in the couple's master bedroom. When he returned at around 11:00 AM EST, he claimed to have found both had been shot dead. He then covered the bodies of his wife and infant daughter with a blanket. He 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 .22 caliber handgun. Finding the 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 the 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'd never touched. Additionally, DNA matching that of his wife Rachel was found on the gun's muzzle. Also, 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 also revealed that days before the murders, Entwistle looked at a website that described "how to kill people" and searched for escort services[1] . Contrary to outward appearances, Entwistle had been unemployed since September 2005 and was essentially penniless at the time of the killings. Authorities suspected a financial motivation for the killings.

Investigations and evidence

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Initial police investigation

On 21 January, the day after the murder is alleged to have been committed, police officers attended the Entwistles' home at 20:27 EST following up a call by Rachel Entwistle's mother and a friend. The police however failed to find the bodies of Rachel and Lillian after making only a cursory check. A second search the following evening revealed the bodies which had previously been obscured by bedding.[2]

On 23 January, police investigators then contacted Neil Entwistle at his parents' home in Worksop, England. According to reports, Entwistle told police that he had found the bodies of his wife and baby dead at about 11:00 EST on the 20th, and had no idea who 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 Tube 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

The then 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 (January 19, 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

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 at the Royal Oak underground station. Initially refusing to agree to his extradition, Entwistle eventually agreed to waive 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 plead 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 death 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 may be contemplating suicide. As a result Entwistle was initially transferred to the Bridgewater State Hospital for mental evaluation before being returned to Middlesex.[3]

In the following months, Elliot 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, Elliot 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 at June 2, 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.[4]

Trial and conviction

His trial for murder began on 2 June, 2008 in Woburn, MA.[5] He was found guilty on all charges on 25 June, 2008 and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on 26 June, 2008.

The formal legal arguments in the trial ended on 23 June. After deliberating for nine hours over two days, on 25 June, 2008, the jury found Entwistle guilty as to the charge of first degree murder. He was also found guilty of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on 26 June, 2008, the mandatory sentence for someone convicted of first degree murder in the state of Massachusetts. Judge Diane Kottmyer imposed two concurrent life sentences on the murder charges and ten years of probation on the firearms and ammunition charges to run concurrent with the life sentences, conditional that he never profit from the sale of his story.[6]

Entwistle was first incarcerated at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, although Judge Kottmyer originally said that he would serve his sentences at MCI-Cedar Junction.[7]

Aftermath and appeals

In the days after Entwistle was sentenced to life imprisonment, his verdict went to automatic appeal in the Supreme Court. Entwistle now has the right to appeal a number of times and the appeals process may stretch over several years.[8] In September 2008, it was revealed that Neil had arranged for a new lawyer to represent him in his appeal. His original lawyer, Elliot Weinstein, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and has dropped the case to focus on recovery.[9]

In October 2008, Entwistle's parents filed a complaint of harassment with the PCC against their local newspaper, the Worksop Guardian. The complaint was rejected by the PCC[10].

Neil'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. Neil's mother has said, “The evidence points to Rachel murdering our grandchild and then committing suicide”.[11]

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.[12]

Shaving incident and prison transfer

In August 2008, Entwistle had been tricked into shaving his head in an attempt to secure the protection of a white supremacist prison gang.[13] Instead of giving Entwistle protection the gang had reportedly said "It’s a nice gesture on your part but we're gonna kill you"[14]. 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.[15] Department of Correction 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.[16] Entwistle spent a total of five months in Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.

References

External links


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