Mourning Rachel and Lilly

Rachel and Lillian EntwistleI don’t know how big a story Neil Entwistle‘s conviction and sentencing is outside of New England, but here it’s on all the front pages. Two-and-a-half years ago, British-born Neil Entwistle murdered his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian, in the family’s Hopkington, Massachusetts, home. Supposedly, he meant to commit a murder-suicide, but chickened out after shooting his wife in the head and his infant child in the stomach. Entwistle was trying to avoid facing the consequences of his impending financial ruin.

Maybe these murders aren’t really any more or less horrible than hundreds of others, but I find the story deeply personally affecting. Rachel Souza (it seems wrong to refer to her by her married name) grew up in Kingston, Massachusetts, one town north of Plymouth, where I grew up. She was only five years older than me. Her daughter’s baptism was performed in Plymouth. Seven weeks later, her funeral Mass was held in Plymouth. For all I know, I sat next to her at a football game, passed her in a supermarket, or served her coffee during my years at Dunkin’ Donuts in high school.

At the time Rachel and Lillian were killed, I was working for a company that put out many of the area’s community newspapers. Carver, where Rachel’s parents live, was one of my papers. For nearly a year, I edited every story about the investigation. I heard all the newsroom chatter about things reporters learned in off-the-record conversations with local police. I laid out every front page chronicling new developments. I still use one of those covers among my clips. Rachel and Lilly’s story has become part of mine.

When the news first broke, two things were immediately clear: Neil Entwistle was plainly guilty, and he might get off anyway. He was nearly bankrupt, but his family was rich. He was inept at covering his tracks, but he was a foreign citizen and had fled to England hours after the murders. Extradition was by no means guaranteed. He’d have the best lawyers. He might get away with it.

Every hour that the jury was out earlier this week, I worried that despite everything—the DNA, the ridiculous cover story full of holes, the pathetic defense—the jury might not convict. Then, when he was found guilty, I worried that he’d somehow manage to sell his story and profit off his own cruelty. Now that neither of those things has come to pass, I’m starting to miss the worry. The worry had a focus. The worry, I knew, would at some point resolve into either relief or frustration. The worry concealed the aching melancholy at the pointless waste.

The only way Neil Entwistle will ever leave prison is in a coffin. It’s the best anyone could have hoped for. Now we have to face the reality that it means nothing, fixes nothing. It just starts the grieving process all over again and adds another family to the mourners.

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One Response

  1. Good day Boston (Duxburian in Exile). This trial was on everyone’s radar. I have been doing vlogging on current trials on YouTube (RealityCanBeEvil channel). Started with Mark Jensen (WI in Jan/Feb), JP Orlewicz (April in MI) and this one. I had approximately 50 videos archived for the Neil Entwistle trial and my YouTube channel got pulled. Rumor has it that the defense counsel (Mr. Weinstein – remember him) might have gotten the UT channel pulled “for perjudicial reasons”. Remember the defense asked the court to not have the cameras show Neil’s face.
    As the result of this, all the videos of trial archives got pulled.
    Hark, I started a RCBE2 channel on another video sharing site – LiveVideo and just picked up archiving the trial from there forward. My favorite clip on http://www.livevideo.com/RCBE2 is Mrs. Entwistle after the verdict stating that “Rachel killed our grandchild”. As she was walking away someone in the crowd asked her “If Rachel was depressed then why didn’t you help her”.

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