I Saw Neil Entwistle ~Part II
A small town reporter's personal experience with a media frenzy
by Robert Falcione
There was a police officer directing traffic on the Police Headquarters property, and satellite trucks lined the drive, a scene that is not customary. The television news reporters and anchors were there in the upstairs conference room, standing between the dozen or so broadcast cameras pointed at the empty podium. The District Attorney’s Director of Communications looked around to see if all of the major players had arrived, so he could feel comfortable in moving forward.
“Is Channel 7 here? The Herald?” he asked.
“Hopkinton News is here,” I said, provoking a roomful of laughter. Little did they or I know that before long, most of the people in the room would soon be checking out HopNews.com.
The conference room of the Police Station, which was opened in the summer of 2004, was more than adequate to accommodate the present group. The station had been built with fifty years of future expansion in mind. It has a modern dispatch system with a duplicate station for busy times, like for the yearly Boston Marathon, or the upcoming, but unexpected, media siege over a double-murder. It has Sergeant’s rooms, interrogation rooms, a lieutenant’s room for when one is added, a booking room, and even a weight room so that officers stay fit and able to perform their duties as well as possible. It also has several jails cell for unwilling overnight or weekend guests.
The headquarters has a secure evidence room where it can be presumed guns and other evidence are stored; and even a secure garage, where Neil Entwistle’s car would eventually be placed, after being found parked at Logan International Airport with the keys in it; and on that keychain, the keys to the house where the alleged murder weapon would be found.
Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley walked up to the podium and began the news conference, after introducing Chief of Police Thomas Irvin and State Police Detective Lieutenant James Connolly.
“Yesterday afternoon at approximately 6:30 or so on what was a fairly routine well-being check at 6 Cubs Path in Hopkinton, the Hopkinton Police went to check on Rachel Entwistle, age 27, her husband, Neil Entwistle, also age 27, and their nine month-old
daughter, Lillian Entwistle.
“They had moved to this location only ten or so days ago and authorities believe they entered into a short term lease for the property…”
She went on to say that they were due to have a social engagement that Saturday night. It would later be learned that the police had also gone into the house on Saturday on a well-being check, but did not see the bodies under the fluffy bedding that covered them.
While doing a well-being check, police will observe, sense, and call out to people. Some departments do not even enter a home during a well-being check. Some talking heads would soon speculate that the prosecution would lose any case on that fact alone.
It would also be learned that friends went into the home also the next day, Sunday, February 22, and that they too did not discover the bodies. But things would change soon.
“Are the people from Cubs Path still there?” asked Sgt. Michael Sutton to the dispatch later in the day on Sunday, the day preceding the press conference. He and Detective Scott Van Raalten had discovered the bodies and apparently would soon begin the dire task of informing the mother of Rachel Entwistle, Priscilla Matterazzo, who was still finishing a missing person’s report at Police Headquarters.
The officers had discovered the deceased bodies of Rachel Entwistle, 27, and her daughter Lillian, 9 months. From all reports available, it appears that the police officers did not discover the gunshot wounds at that time, but called the State Police.
The entire town had been going about its business before the discovery. ESL Theater group had a sold-out performance that Saturday, the same day friends of the Entwistle’s first alerted police.
Nearly the entire Hopkinton Police Department, as well as a few policemen from surrounding towns, attended the very public retirement party of one of their own at the Milford Radisson on Friday evening, January 20, 2006, not knowing the tragedy that awaited them on Cubs Path.
“At that time there was no obvious signs of foul play,” said Ms. Coakley, referring to the discovery of the bodies in bed with little or no apparent blood.
The bodies, it would later be learned, had been dead since Friday morning. Sgt. Sutton, with Officer Aaron O’Neil, had been in the house on the well-being check the day before the horrific discovery, and thought the piled-up bedding was just a case of an unmade bed, as did friends of Rachel on an entry that next day.
The medical technicians, she said, were the ones to discover the bullet wounds, one to baby Lillian, and the other to Rachel, appearing as if only one small caliber bullet killed each. The autopsy would later reveal that Rachel had been shot in the forehead, just above the hairline. But even at this early stage of the investigation, Ms. Coakley told the public that authorities did not believe this to be random, and Chief Thomas Irvin assured the public that it had nothing to fear.
“We know that he was traveling; at least as of Friday night,” Ms. Coakley said of Mr. Entwistle, without saying how they knew. In fact, the State Police, at the request of the Hopkinton Police, had already located the Entwistle’s BMW at about 7:45 pm the previous evening parked at Logan International Airport. Further investigation revealed that Neil Entwistle left the United States at 8:15 am, on Saturday, February 21, the day before the bodies were discovered.
Ms. Coakley showed Mrs. Entwistle’s driver’s license photo to cameras, and made it available to the gathered media afterward.
The authorities had learned a lot overnight: Mr. Entwistle was in the IT field, and that he was unemployed at the time.
“Mrs. Entwistle had some prior experience as a teacher, but was not working at the time,” said Ms. Coakley. Authorities would later reveal that Mrs. Entwistle worked as a teacher in England, her husband’s native country, where they had left prior to moving in with Rachel’s mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, in Carver, Massachusetts, a place Ms. Coakley referred to in her press conference as a town in southeastern Massachusetts, in an apparent bid to protect the family of the victims from a media onslaught.
Under questioning from the media, Ms. Coakley refused to label Neil Entwistle, or anyone else for that matter, a suspect. She believed he had a BMW vehicle, she said.
“We have some ideas of where he may be,” said Ms. Coakley, but refused to comment further on Mr. Entwistle’s whereabouts. Neil was at his parents’ home in Worksop, England, authorities would learn shortly. Before the end of the day, at approximately 1:10 pm, Massachusetts State Police Trooper Robert Manning placed a phone call to Neil Entwistle at his parents’ home, and began a two-hour telephone conversation with him.
HopNews got the entire press conference on digital video, but the major players did not go live with it. In fact, they reported the story and showed only seconds of the press conference. HopNews would show the entire thing, giving its readers, all 1,200 daily average, a quality product. We’d beaten the majors.
While the video from the press conference was processed, Eric went to Cubs Path to take a photo. He found police and media there. Before this chapter of the story was to be over, both sides of the street would be lined with satellite trucks, cameramen, anchors and reporters from across the world. But for now, only a couple of media people would remain there, staking out the detectives’ public moves.
The British had yet to "invade."
Part III to come.
Note: People should not conclude anything extraordinary about the title of this story. A lot of people saw Neil Entwistle when he was in Hopkinton and/or Framingham. I was one of them.
At the end of this serial, the entire piece will be offered as one continuous story. ~ Robert
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