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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: January 20, 2006
Date of arrest: February 9, 2006 (in London)
Date of birth: September 18, 1978
Victims profile: His wife Rachel Entwistle, 27, and their daughter Lillian, 9-month-old
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on June 26, 2008

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

Personal history

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

Aftermath of murders

The bodies of 27-year-old Rachel and 9-month-old Lillian were found on January 22, 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 January 21, and boarded a British Airways flight that left at 8:15 AM.

On January 23, 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. 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

Initial police investigation

On 21 January, the day after the murder is alleged to have been committed, police officers attended the Entwistles' home at 8:27 p.m 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.

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 a.m. 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 February 9, 2006, Entwistle was arrested on a Tube train at Royal Oak station, following detailed searches by officers at his parents' house. He initially requested that he not be sent back to the United States, however he later conceded to extradition.

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.

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 analyze 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.

Trial and Conviction

His trial for murder began on June 2, 2008 in Woburn, MA.

He was found guilty on all charges on June 25, 2008 and he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on June 26, 2008.

The formal legal arguments in the trial ended on June 23. After deliberating for nine hours over two days, on June 25, 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 June 26, 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.

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.

Aftermath and appeals

In the days after Entwistle was sentenced to life imprisonment, his verdict went to automatic appeal in the High Court. Entwistle now has the right to appeal a number of times and the appeals process may stretch over several years.

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.

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.

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".

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.

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. Instead of giving Entwistle protection the gang had reportedly said “It’s a nice gesture on your part but we’re gonna kill you". Entwistle was put into protective custody inside the prison shortly afterwards. On December 17, he was transfered to the medium security prison Old Colony Correctional Center in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Department of Correction spokesman, Diane Wiffin told 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 towards Neil had become too big. Entwistle spent a total of five months in Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.


Neil Entwistle (born September 18, 1978) is the widower of Rachel Entwistle and father of Lillian Entwistle and is charged with their murders. English-born Neil and American-born Rachel were married on Sunday, August 10, 2003, in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Although the murders happened on January 20, 2006, the bodies of 27-year-old Rachel and 9-month-old Lillian were not found until January 22, in the master bedroom of the couple's rented Hopkinton, Massachusetts home where the Entwistles had moved just ten days earlier. Autopsy results showed that the mother died of a gunshot wound to the head and the baby died of a gunshot to the stomach.

Hours after their deaths, Entwistle bought a one-way ticket to London about 5:00 a.m. EST on the morning of January 21, and boarded a British Airways flight that left at 8:15 a.m. The immediacy of these events raised questions as to the activities of Entwistle during the previous few hours.

On January 23, Hopkinton Police called Entwistle at his parents' Clifford and Yvonne's home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England. They say he told them that he left his Hopkinton home at around 9:00 a.m. EST three days previously to go on an errand. He told them that both his wife and daughter were in bed. When he returned at around 11:00 a.m. EST, he says he found they had been shot dead and covered their bodies with a blanket.

He told the police that he didn't call 911, but instead decided to kill himself. Unable to bring himself to end his life with a knife, he then got in the family car and drove to his father-in-law Joseph Materazzo's house to get a .22 handgun. Finding the house locked, he then decided to fly to England and see his parents.

However, as well as confirming that a set of keys to Materazzo's house were found in the car Entwistle parked at Boston's Logan Airport before his flight, DNA matching Entwistle was found on the handle of a .22 handgun owned by Materazzo. In addition, DNA matching his slain wife Rachel was found on the gun's muzzle.

Entwistle appeared in court after being arrested in London on February 9. At a brief central London Bow Street magistrates' court hearing, he requested that he not be sent back to the United States ”at this stage”. Saying little else - except confirmation of his name, age, and address - he was then remanded in custody until a hearing the following day.

However, he changed his mind overnight. At a three-minute Bow Street hearing in front of Judge Nicholas Evans, Entwistle's lawyer Judith Seddon said he had decided to agree to being returned to the US as soon as possible. Just a few hours later, a Home Office minister signed Entwistle's extradition order.

Outside the court afterwards, Seddon - who did not indicate whether her client intended to plead guilty - told reporters: "He has consented at the earliest opportunity because he wants to cooperate with the authorities in any way that he can.

"He's anxious that a delay may cause his late wife's family, and his own, additional distress. He believes he will receive a fair and proper hearing in the United States on these very serious allegations."

She added that Entwistle "had always been inclined to consent" to an extradition request.

Earlier, Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley - the same person who successfully prosecuted nanny Louise Woodward - explained why a warrant for his arrest had been issued and reminded journalists that Entwistle was “innocent until proven guilty”.

He had been stopped around mid-day while he sat on a London Underground train at west London’s Royal Oak tube station, by officers who had been tailing him since a warrant for his arrest was issued the previous evening. Entwistle did not put up a struggle.

His arrest followed detailed searches by two teams of officers at his parents' house. Local officers interviewed the couple from 10:00 a.m. while a Metropolitan Police team arrived about lunchtime and left with black bin liners containing undisclosed items taken from the garage and house where he previously lived with brother Russell.

Flaherty said: “The family is deeply saddened at the arrest of Neil Entwistle. Rachel and Lillian loved Neil very much. He was a trusted husband and father and it’s incomprehensible how that love and trust was betrayed in the ultimate act of violence. God didn’t do this - there is evil among us.”

And he added that the family had “always been confident that the person who did this would be brought to justice.”

Martha Coakley told a press conference after Entwistle’s arrest: “On Thursday night (January 19, 2006), Rachel was alive and had spoken with family members.

“At sometime 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 5:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, January 22. He was on an 8:15 flight to the United Kingdom on that day.

“He was then in Worksop with his parents.”

She added: “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."


Neil Entwistle: 'Our good son did not murder his wife and child'

By Olga Craig -

November 23, 2008

Neil Entwistle is serving two life sentences for the brutal – and incomprehensible – murder of his American wife Rachel and their baby daughter. Yet two people remain convinced he is innocent: his parents, Cliff and Yvonne. Here, they tell their story for the first time.

Yvonne Entwistle gazed through the bedroom window of her Nottinghamshire home, waiting for the tip of the sun to peep above the horizon in the left-hand pane. She had watched it rise from that same spot many times over the years as she had nursed her sons, now both grown men. That morning’s sunrise, though, was special. That morning, it must have seemed, her family’s happiness had come full circle.

'I remember watching the sun glisten and thinking to myself: ''A new dawn. The sun is rising to greet our first grandchild’’,’ Yvonne tells me. 'Lillian Rose, our new little granddaughter. I was so happy, so excited. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t wait for the shops to open. I wanted to buy her a beautiful dress.'

It was 9 April, 2005, and earlier that morning Yvonne and her husband Cliff had waited anxiously for news of Rachel, the 27-year-old American wife of their elder son Neil, who was in labour in a Worcestershire hospital. The phone had rung at 4am. 'Mum, Dad, you have a grand-daughter,’ Neil, also 27, told them excitedly. 'Come and see her as soon as you can.’ The Entwistles were thrilled. By 8.45am they were stamping their feet impatiently outside their local baby shop. 'I saw this little white dress covered in rosebuds,’ Yvonne says. 'Then I saw another I liked. And another. I ended up buying five, all those lovely pinks. I’d had two boys, so I was always buying blue…’ Yvonne stops mid-sentence. 'And then,’ she says, her voice wavering. 'Suddenly, I was buying black.’

Cliff and Yvonne Entwistle doted on their granddaughter. When Neil opted to move his new family to Rachel’s native country, in July 2005, they were heartbroken. But they threw a farewell party and hoped that, one day, he, Rachel and the baby would return to England. At the party Lillian Rose, wearing the rosebud dress bought by Yvonne, gurgled happily in her cot. Yvonne remembers her pride when she noticed the baby had the Entwistle nose.

It was the last time the couple were to see their granddaughter. Six months later, by 20 January, 2006, both Rachel and Lillian Rose were dead, their bodies found entwined on Rachel and Neil’s four-poster bed in their Massachusetts home. Lillian Rose had been blasted by a gunshot wound to the abdomen; her mother had been killed with a single bullet to the head.

The Entwistles knew nothing of the killings until Neil turned up, unexpectedly, on their Worksop doorstep three days later. Within three weeks, to their shock and bewilderment, he was arrested. On 26 June this year he was found guilty of the double murder and sentenced to two concurrent life terms without parole for what the judge described as crimes that 'defy comprehension’.

The Entwistles’ lives were shattered. At their son’s trial they listened as a lurid tale unfolded: one of a cold-blooded con man who, dissatisfied with his family life, addicted to internet sex sites and deeply in debt, killed his wife and child then fled the murder scene to escape justice. The couple have maintained a dignified silence. They have told no one of events during the weeks their son was at their Worksop home. They have not spoken of their relentless grief. Or of their campaign to have their son’s sentence overturned. Until now.

There is much damning evidence against Neil Entwistle. If he did find his family murdered, as he claims, why didn’t he telephone 911? His fingerprints were found on the murder weapon and there was enough evidence to portray him as a fantasist who led a secret double life. When he was told British police wanted him to turn himself in at a London underground station he tried to flee. During his trial his composure infuriated the jury. And the prosecution’s disturbing description of his fixation on pornography, his murky internet ventures and mounting debt painted a picture of a self-obsessed psychopath who murdered his wife and baby purely to escape a sordid life that had spiralled out of control.

But for his parents, Cliff, 55, a former miner who now works as a store man, and Yvonne, 53, a school dinner lady, there is but one truth: their son did not murder his wife and child. For these loving, working-class parents who scrimped to send their sons to university, the notion that the son they cherished could be capable of such a heinous act is impossible to accept. But since there was never any suggestion of an intruder, the Entwistles must either believe that Rachel killed baby Lillian Rose before turning the gun upon herself (which was their son’s surprise, last-minute defence in court) or accept that their son is a calculating murderer.

In the months since Entwistle was convicted, the couple have pored over scores of documents, believing evidence exists that will exonerate their son. They also point out that the state of Massachusetts, where Entwistle stood trial, has the second-highest record for wrongful convictions in the US (15 between 1995 and 2004).

But whatever the truth of his guilt, the Entwistles grieve not just for the son whom they believe innocent but, more importantly, for their first and only grandchild. As Cliff says: 'I had barely become accustomed to being a grandpa before little Lillian was taken. Now she’s gone and no one can ever replace her in our hearts.’

Neither Cliff nor Yvonne can recall if Neil rang the doorbell on the morning of Monday, 22 January, 2006, or whether he used his key. What they can’t forget is their son, standing in their living-room, looking bewildered and bereft. 'Rach is dead, Lilly is dead,’ he said. 'They’ve been shot.’

His words devastated the couple. 'I slumped to the floor, on my knees,’ Cliff recalls. He lowers his head, his eyes filling. Yvonne says: 'I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak. Everything just stopped. Numbness. Disbelief. In that instant I was transported from the world I knew to this one I’m in now. And I’ve stayed in this world.’

Neil, his parents claim, was a broken man. He told them how he had found his wife and child dead. It is understandable that it never entered the Entwistles’ heads that their son could be the murderer. But neither did they ask Neil what he thought had happened. 'I know this sounds stupid,’ says Cliff, 'but no. I’m not one of those people to push and pry.’ Both assumed some crazed killer had murdered mother and child.

'Neil was shocked and dazed. There was nothing suspicious about him. I never once thought: ''Don’t tell me it is Neil,’’ ’ says Cliff. 'When he spoke to the police he was so open.’ Cliff stops and gazes at the carpet of the couple’s neat semi. 'But an innocent man does need a lawyer, I know that now,’ he says grimly. 'From the very start, Neil did what people asked of him. When the police wanted to speak to him, he did. There is no doubt in my mind that he was a heartbroken husband and father.’

What the Entwistles did not know was the sequence of events before Neil arrived at their home. Two days before, on Friday, 20 January, he had fled his home in the historic Boston suburb of Hopkinton to drive the 30 miles to Boston Logan airport. He hastily parked his rented white BMW SUV and headed into the terminal. Inside, a series of CCTV cameras captured him frantically punching his pin number into three cash machines. The last one he tried dispensed $800 in cash. He then booked himself on British Airways flight 238, bound for London at 8.20am the next day. Entwistle slept in the SUV and, next morning, was filmed on security cameras boarding the aeroplane. All he carried was his passport in one hand and a one-way ticket home in the other.

This was a man running – either in guilt or in shock and horror. Whatever the truth, in the master bedroom of the Hopkinton house – No 6, Cub’s Path – Rachel and Lillian Rose’s blood-drenched bodies still lay beneath the bed covers. It was only when police searched the four-bedroom home for a second time (originally they were responding to a missing person call) that they found them. And the hunt for Entwistle began.

Neil Entwistle was a bright child. Even so, his parents never dreamt he would go to university. 'We didn’t think college was for people like us,’ his father says stiffly. Yvonne recalls: 'He used to frighten me to death, zooming about on his go-cart. He loved Cubs, football …’ Her eyes moisten. Dark and anxious-faced, Yvonne Entwistle has aged in the past two years. In family photographs she is fresh-faced and smiling at her son’s wedding. In others (now discreetly displayed on a table that is tucked behind the sofa) she beams proudly as she cradles Lillian Rose. But those are relics of what Yvonne calls 'the other world, not the one I’m in now’.

Though Entwistle didn’t get into Cambridge, he was accepted at York University. It was there he met Rachel Souza. The couple shared a passion for rowing and began dating. They got married in August, 2003 and set up home in Droitwich, Worcestershire where Entwistle worked in IT , and Rachel taught at St Augustine’s Catholic High School. 'We were so happy for them,’ says Yvonne. 'We adored Rachel, and Lilly’s birth was our happiest day. We were so proud. Neil seemed a natural father, always cuddling the baby. Called her his ''Lilly Bean”. A real hands-on dad.’

Friends of the couple say they never, once, noticed anything wrong between the couple. 'They did everything together… bake bread, grind cofffee, everything Neil and Rach did they did together,’ says one. 'There was just one thing. I found it endearing at the time but in the light of what happened, it has caused me to think. Neil worshipped Rach. It was though he was always trying to impress her, to live up to the idealistic notion she had of him as this knight in shining armour who could do no wrong. If Neil had feet of clay, he would have done anything to hide them from Rachel.’

The Entwistles wondered why the young couple continued to rent, rather than buy, but two months after Lillian Rose’s birth they found out why: they had been saving to move to America. 'When they told us, we kept our sadness to ourselves,’ says Yvonne. 'But when they drove off that day, I broke down. We had just got this beautiful little granddaughter and now she was going to the other side of the world.’

Neil and his family moved in with Rachel’s mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joe Matterazzo, in Carver, Massachusetts, while he sought work. Before long the Entwistles concluded that Rachel wasn’t happy. 'It was as though she had gone back and it wasn’t the same place,’ says Yvonne. 'She was subdued, not her bubbly self on the phone. The sparkle had gone out of her voice. Over Christmas she was always having a lie-down when we phoned.’

The last time Yvonne spoke to Rachel, in early January 2006, she abruptly put the phone down when her mother-in-law said the latest photographs of Lillian Rose hadn’t arrived. 'Neil came on and when I told him he went quiet. It seems she went to bed and wept because the photographs hadn’t turned up.’

The Entwistles began to suspect their daughter-in-law was developing post-natal depression. And they were getting the impression that all was not well in the household. Snippets suggested Joe Matterazzo became easily irritated by the baby’s crying and was becoming impatient because Neil hadn’t yet got a job or moved out.

By mid January, however, Entwistle had taken a three-month lease on a large $2,700 four-bedroom, colonial-style house an hour’s drive from the Matterazzos. During Entwistle’s trial much was made of the 'huge’ debts he had incurred. The prosecution cited the enormous rent, the $400-a-month BMW SUV and the new furniture, saying that Entwistle, still jobless, was recklessly amassing debts. The Entwistles dispute this. 'They were using the money they had saved in England, that’s how they paid,’ says Cliff. 'The only debt that we know of was actually Rachel’s. She still owed around $17,000 of a student loan.’ The Matterazzos, however, said they never saw him deal in cash, only credit cards.

Much, too, was made of Entwistle’s predilection for pornography. 'It’s not nice,’ Yvonne agrees. 'But I doubt there’s a man in the world who hasn’t looked at some of that at some time. And these days everyone deals in cards.’ But prosecution investigators found Entwistle had 18 credit cards. All, save one, was up to its limit. Only $800 credit remained and that was the money Entwistle took from the ATM machine at Logan airport.

Yvonne’s defence of her son’s use of pornography is understandable. But Entwistle’s fixation bordered on obsessive. He was trawling the internet for sex online on hook-up sites such as Adult Friend Finder, Naughty Nightlife and Hot Local Escorts. On one profile he set up he goaded American women to prove their prowess in bed, writing,'I need to confirm what friends have told me, that you are much better in bed than the women over the ocean.’ He is also alleged to have posted a photograph of himself, semi-naked and fully-aroused, although doubts over its authenticity meant it was inadmissible as evidence. While there was no proof that Entwistle was unfaithful to his wife, the prosecution relied on the information to compound their picture of a fantasist who murdered his 'inconvenient’ wife and baby.

But other evidence found on his laptop was more disturbing. On 16 January, four days before the deaths, someone with the user name ENT, and using a password-protected file, had typed six chilling words into Google. The query read: 'How to kill with a knife.’ Again the Entwistles are dismissive: 'The laptop belonged to both of them,’ says Yvonne. 'Anyone could have used it and the password was Sally, the name of the dog. How simple would that be to work out?’ They believe that, suffering from post-natal depression, Rachel may have become suicidal.

Whatever her state of mind, on the evening of Thursday, 19 January, Rachel was preparing for a busy weekend. Her mother was coming over for lunch the next day and her best friend, Joanna Gately, was due in the afternoon. But when Joanna arrived her knocks at the door went unanswered. Lying on the front step was a note from Priscilla, Rachel’s mother, who had also found no one at home when she arrived for lunch. Both women telephoned the police.

Two officers toured the house but, amazingly, found nothing. The television was on and music was playing in the baby’s room. In the master bedroom the comfort blanket on the bed was rumpled. Police saw no reason to be concerned.

By the next morning Priscilla was frantic and reported the family missing. Police searched the house again. This time, as they entered, there was a foul smell. They followed it to the unmade bed. There, under the blanket, lay both bodies.

By now Entwistle was back home in Worksop. When the Massachusetts State Police discovered his whereabouts, trooper Bobby Manning telephoned Entwistle, recording the conversation. He made the call assuming he would have to break the news of Rachel and Lillian Rose’s death, but to his surprise, Entwistle knew about the bodies. He had found them, he told the astonished Manning.

Entwistle said he had left the house early on the Friday morning and gone shopping. When he returned, he said, he didn’t go upstairs immediately. 'When I did, when I walked in (to the bedroom), I couldn’t see Lilly. I could only see… I could only see Rachel, she looked like she was asleep,’ he says on the tape. When he approached the bed, he said, he realised both his wife and baby were dead. 'Lilly was such a mess,’ he said. When Manning asked him where the blood was, he replied: 'There wasn’t any on Rachel, it was all on… all on Lilly. Her whole… the whole mouth, mouth and nose were covered. There were… it was almost like it was bubbles.’

Entwistle went on to tell Manning he was so distraught that he ran downstairs to get a knife to kill himself, but changed his mind. 'I think it was almost the thought of how much it was going to hurt. I couldn’t do it. And then I realised that what I needed to do was to let Priscilla know.’

He said he decided to go to the Matterazzos and, en route, he remembered his father-in-law kept a gun. 'A gun would be better than a knife,’ he said. 'But,’ he added, 'none of this happened.’ When he found no one at his parents-in-law’s house he drove to Logan airport. All he could think about, he said, was getting home to his parents. 'I don’t feel that I’ve done the right thing in what I’ve done here,’ he told Manning. 'By not letting, you know, by not being the one to call and say what had happened.’

Stunned that Entwistle had found the bodies and fled without calling 911 or speaking to anyone, police picked up his car at the airport. Inside was Entwistle’s laptop. When they examined it they discovered he had been selling bogus computer equipment on eBay. There were scores of emails from furious customers, claiming they had paid but received no goods. They discovered, too, his passion for kinky websites.

More importantly, however, they were intrigued as to why he had mentioned Joe Matterazzo’s gun to Manning. They soon had their answer. Forensics found that Mr Matterazzo’s .22 Colt had fired the fatal shots.

Back in Worksop, Entwistle remained holed up with his parents while the world’s media camped outside their small semi. Inside, when Yvonne asked Neil whether he had called 911 when he found the bodies, she misunderstood his nod to mean he had. That is what she told Joe Matterazzo on the phone. But when she later mentioned it to Neil he said he hadn’t made the call. Haltingly, he described how he had found his wife and daughter, but, the Entwistles recall, he talked mostly of happy memories of his 'beautiful wife and daughter.’

Cliff and Yvonne, themselves distraught, never thought their son was a suspect until the Matterazzos stopped taking their calls and refused to divulge details of Rachel and Lillian Rose’s funerals. 'All we wanted to do was provide a haven of peace and quiet for our son to come to terms with his loss,’ Yvonne says. 'All three of us were in shock. It didn’t seem strange to me that Neil had come home. He spoke to the British police every day, held nothing back.’

Yvonne bites her lip. 'I know this sounds awful but I couldn’t help thinking: ''Thank God Neil was out shopping when whoever did it broke in.’’ Then I would think: ''How can I think that?” But I think any mother would understand that.’

Not once, say the Entwistles, did they think Neil could have murdered his family. They had overheard him say to trooper Manning: 'You can’t think it’s me.’ The parents who never doubted their son from the first still believed him.

Though the American media lambasted Entwistle as a callous husband and father when he did not attend Rachel and Lillian Rose’s funeral, his parents say it was on legal advice. 'I remember telling Neil that this was Rachel and Lilly’s day, it would turn into a media circus if he went,’ Yvonne says. The press, however, were convinced he didn’t go because he feared arrest.

Rachel and Lillian Rose were buried at St Peter’s church in Plymouth, Massachusetts – the same church where the baby had been christened a few weeks before. As the service began at 11am, Cliff, Yvonne and Neil, unbeknown to the media, made their own pilgrimage to the Midlands park where Neil had proposed to his wife. Neil left a rose and a lily. 'It was our way of saying goodbye,’ says Yvonne. 'Neil and Rachel had taken Lilly there when she was born…’

What they didn’t know was that the surname on the double grave in which mother and child were interred was not Entwistle but Souza, Rachel’s maiden name. When they found out, the Entwistles broke down in tears. 'Lilly was christened an Entwistle, it was her birthright and they took it away from her,’ Yvonne says.

When Benjamin Prior, an old university friend of Neil’s, and Dashiell Munding, a pal from York rowing club, invited Neil to London to escape the media pressure, he agreed – though his parents were far from happy. 'I didn’t want him to go. I wanted to cling on to him,’ his mother says. The trio visited the cinema and talked at length about the deaths. In Dashiell’s testimony, he said the police had telephoned him saying: 'Get your mate to give himself up.’ When he told his friend this, as they got off a tube train, he panicked. 'He asked me whether there was some other way of getting off the platform,’ Dashiell recalled.

When police did pick him up they found a damning letter addressed to the British media, supposedly written by a third party. It invited offers of money for Neil Entwistle’s story. 'What’s of interest to us,’ the letter said, 'is what price you would be willing to pay for exclusive rights to the full story. There is no loyalty to any particular paper, so we are leaving it open to the highest bidder.’ While his parents believe this was merely an attempt to repay them for the £10,000 they had spent on British lawyers for their son (raised from Cliff’s redundancy payment and their only savings), that seems unlikely. Within days Entwistle was flown to America.

On 15 February, Neil Entwistle was arraigned at Framingham District Court, where he was ordered to be held at Middlesex County Court pending his trial. By now, such was the American media interest that Neil had to make his first court appearance wearing a bullet-proof vest.

When Entwistle faced trial this summer, Joe Matterazzo testified that he had taken his son-in-law shooting twice and that he was an 'excellent shot’; although according to the Entwistles Neil had gone shooting with his father-in-law just once and had simply handled the gun, not fired it. The prosecution also argued that Entwistle had taken Joe’s gun, shot his wife and child then returned the gun on his way to the airport.

While the defence pointed out that the medical examiner at the death scene was told it was a murder and thus had never explored the possibility of a murder/suicide, Entwistle made his claim that Rachel had shot the baby and turned the gun on herself. He returned the gun to her parents’ house, he claimed, to save her from the 'shame and humiliation’ of her crime.

The defence’s single piece of compelling evidence was the gunshot residue found on both sides of Rachel’s hands. More damning still for the prosecution was the fact that, in cross examination, William Zane, the medical examiner, told the court that he was never made aware of the residue’s existence, and when pressed on the issue he became clearly uncomfortable. A forensic chemist also conceded that similar gunshot residue tests were made on items Neil was known to have touched that day – such as the steering wheel of the SUV – and no traces of gunpowder were found.

'The gunshot residue on Rachel’s hands could have suggested she fired the gun,’ says Cliff. 'And she was found with her left arm – she was left-handed – flung out. We loved Rachel dearly, she was little Lilly’s mam, but in the grip of post-natal depression, she could have fired those shots.’

The jury disagreed. One among them was a young mother who later said nothing would have convinced her Rachel could kill her own child. Another, Ashley Sousa, later revealed that since she was the same height as Rachel she had taken part in a jury-room enactment which she felt proved Rachel couldn’t have committed the crimes; hardly firm evidence.

Entwistle was found guilty, told he would never get parole and, today, aged 30, is imprisoned in Souza Correctional Centre, not far from the Hopkinton home he shared with his wife and daughter. He is planning an appeal and his parents are launching a campaign to fight for his freedom, but few believe Neil Entwistle will be freed, or that he is innocent.

Nevertheless, most people will feel sympathy for Cliff and Yvonne Entwistle. They, like the Matterazzos, have lost a beloved granddaughter. And it is for her that they grieve. 'You can’t go back from this situation. We carry this forever now,’ Cliff says softly.

In their home town the couple are liked and respected. Neighbours treat them with unfailing courtesy and many believe in Neil’s innocence. 'The other day a woman I barely know stopped me in the street and pressed my hand,’ Yvonne says. 'She just said: ''I know he is innocent.’’ Those small gestures mean a lot.’

The couple keep in touch with their son by letter and occasional visits. In one of his last letters, written in August around what would have been his fifth wedding anniversary, he wrote: 'It is that difficult time of the year again.’ Held in solitary confinement, he has already been subjected to one attack, which prompted him to write to his parents pleading for photographs of his wife and child and asking that his ashes be scattered on their graves should he die.

Life for Cliff and Yvonne, they say, is a continuing nightmare from which they cannot awaken. Even if their son said he was guilty they would never disown him: they would just know that he was where he had to be. 'What torments us is that we believe 100 per cent in Neil’s innocence,’ says Cliff. ''When we saw him after the guilty verdict he looked at me and said: ''Dad, how could this have happened to me? I didn’t do it.’’ I know he was telling the truth.’

Yvonne still likes to sit in her son’s bedroom, looking out of the window in the early morning. Just as she did on the morning of Lillian Rose’s birth when she waited for the shops to open so that she could buy her granddaughter a pretty pink dress. It was here that Rachel breast-fed Lillian Rose when she visited. It is here that Yvonne feels closest to her granddaughter. But she no longer watches the sun rise. Instead her gaze lingers on a white rose bush in the centre of the garden. Planted in loving memory of her only grandchild.



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