This time, homicide came to a quiet cul-de-sac in a peaceful suburb, apparently driven by a growing wave of debt built on delusion that collapsed into a despair so deranged that the only escape route Neil Entwistle could allegedly think of was to grab a gun and kill his wife and 9-month-old daughter as both slept in a rented home on Cubs Path in Hopkinton.
The husband’s eyes and appetites, however, in addition to being greater than his budget, appeared to be bigger than his abilities as well.
The district attorney of Middlesex County, Martha Coakley, stood yesterday at a press conference in full command of the facts, unafraid to dispense information, telling the public that the instinct of detectives and prosecutors is that Entwistle could have had suicide on his mind when the nearly incomprehensible occurred in a neighborhood where barking dogs provide the only real noise.
Of course, when that moment of potential self-destruction came – and quickly passed – cowardice overwhelmed the cold cruelty of double murder; Entwistle ran, all the way to the bedroom of the home where he was raised in an English suburb, ran across a whole ocean to the arms of his parents, where he perhaps dreamed that his mother and father could salvage his life from the nightmare he allegedly spawned.
Now, his wife and child dead, Entwistle is handcuffed to a legal system intent on doing to him what he is thought to have done to his whole family – in-laws, parents, everyone: destroy all the years ahead with a conviction for double murder.
But this story is merely at the starting gate because we live in a cable culture where a simple tale of violence is just not enough for many to believe. We think there must be more. We want more. Demand more.
After all, how could a young man do this to the woman he loved and the infant both adored? How could anyone act so irrationally, with such evil, over fear of bill collectors, bankruptcy or the embarrassment of joblessness and admitting failure? What else is there? Another woman? A huge insurance policy?
Unfortunately, the truth is often unsatisfying to those who cannot comprehend the human stories behind nearly every miserable homicide. Murders are almost always darkly interesting, sometimes complex, quite basic and usually sad.
Rachel and Lillian Entwistle are gone. So is the concept of shock and disbelief in American life.
The papers and TV are filled daily with stories that inoculate us all against the trauma of desperate tales. We read and see that four are killed in a basement in Boston, two more shot on a street corner on a Saturday night, children die on sidewalks and schoolyards over a coat, a hat, a look, the wrong word.
Homicide came to Cubs Path. And this morning, Neil Entwistle likely sits in a British jail, fighting extradition for crimes he has been charged with committing. His family is dead. So are their dreams; his too, in a culture where the motive – no money – should not surprise anyone who has been paying attention.