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Entwistle charged with killing wife, daughter in alleged murder-suicide plan

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley listened to questions during a press conference this morning after she announced the arrest of Neil Entwistle for the murders of his wife and infant daughter in Hopkinton. Behind her is Hopkinton Police Chief Thomas Irvin.
Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley listened to questions during a press conference this morning after she announced the arrest of Neil Entwistle for the murders of his wife and infant daughter in Hopkinton. Behind her is Hopkinton Police Chief Thomas Irvin. (Globe Staff Photo / George Rizer)

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said today prosecutors believe Neil Entwistle took a .22 caliber gun from his father-in-law’s collection and shot his wife and 9-month-old daughter in their Hopkinton home last month in what may have been an aborted murder-suicide attempt.

Entwistle committed the murders, she said, but then failed to commit suicide.

“It’s our worst nightmare in some respects, a mother, a child,” Coakley said at a 10 a.m. press conference in Cambridge.

The 27-year-old Briton was arrested today by Scotland Yard about 6:50 a.m. Boston time at a London subway station, Coakley said. He was charged with two counts of murder, illegal possession of a firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition, Coakley added.

Entwistle was ordered held in custody Thursday following a hearing at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court. He did not immediately consent to voluntarily return to the United States, but the hearing was continued to Friday, when he was expected to formally indicate whether he would fight extradition.

District Judge Timothy Workman did not ask Entwistle to enter a plea, and said a decision on whether he would be handed over to U.S authorities had to be made by April 15 under British law.

Tests linking Neil Entwistle with the alleged murder weapon prompted today’s arrest, Coakley said.

Rachel Entwistle's family released a statement in which they said they were "deeply saddened" by Neil Entwistle's arrest.

"Rachel and Lilly loved Neil very much. Neil was a trusted husband and father and it is incomprehensible how that love and trust was betrayed in the ultimate act of violence," said the statement, which was read by a family spokesman on behalf of Rachel Entwistle's mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, and her brother, Jeromy Souza.

"We are heartbroken and at a loss to understand how this happened, but as our pastor, Father MacKenzie, reminded us just eight days ago, 'God didn't do this, there is evil among us," the statement read. "We have always been confident that this case would be solved and those responsible brought to justice."

At today’s press conference the district attorney gave the most detailed account to date of investigators’ findings in the slayings of Rachel Entwistle, 27, and the couple’s infant, Lillian Rose Entwistle.

On Friday morning, Jan. 20, Neil Entwistle used a gun he had “secured earlier” from his father-in-law, Joseph Matterazzo, and shot his wife once in the head while she was lying on the master bed in their rented Hopkinton home, Coakley said. He then fired a second shot through Lillian’s abdomen, she said.

Later that day, Neil Entwistle returned the gun to Matterazzo’s home in Carver and made preparations to flee the country, cobbling together financing for his trip from credit cards, she said. He bought a one-way ticket to London about 5 a.m. Saturday morning, Jan. 21, and boarded a British Airways flight that left at 8:15 a.m. The next day, police discovered the bodies.

Coakley said the unemployed computer technician was having financial difficulties, with debt obligations in his native England and failing Internet businesses in the United States.

“He had no money and no real assets,” Coakley said. But he and his wife had undertaken a lease on a $2,700 a month home in Hopkinton just days before the murders, and Neil Entwistle’s online ventures, including one that offered help setting up pornographic web sites and another shilling software, were failing. Srpublications, the software business, was pulled from eBay in early January after a string of customer complaints.

The couple had moved to the United States from England last summer because Rachel Entwistle wanted to be closer to her family in Carver, Coakley said, and Neil Entwistle agreed to the move. But neither had a job since and the bills continued to mount, Coakley said.

Police tested the .22 caliber gun, which came from Matterazzo's collection and were able to link it to the murders and to Neil Entwistle yesterday afternoon, Coakley said. She said authorities then asked the Department of Justice to request a provisional extradition warrant from Scotland Yard for Entwistle's arrest.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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