Briton faces extradition to US over murder of wife and baby

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The Independent Online

A British man was arrested yesterday and is facing extradition to the US over the murder of his wife and baby daughter.

Neil Entwistle, 27, was arrested at Royal Oak Tube station in west London by Metropolitan Police officers acting on a warrant issued by the US Department of Justice. If extradited, he will face two charges of murder and illegal firearms possession.

Mr Entwistle returned to England the day before the bodies of his wife Rachel and nine-month-old daughter Lillian were found at the home the family had been renting in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, last month.

Mrs Entwistle a former teacher who was 27, had been shot in the head and her daughter's body was lying on the bed beside her, also with gunshot wounds.

American police had initially said Mr Entwistle was not a suspect in the case but a "person of interest". However, prosecutors now believe that the unemployed computer programmer was suffering from financial difficulties and may have tried to kill himself after shooting his wife and daughter dead with a gun he had stolen from his father-in-law.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley told a press conference in Massachusetts: "We believe possibly that this was intended to be a murder suicide bid. Some of the background to this may be that Neil Entwistle, having entered into some debt obligations in England, having moved to this country with his new wife and child, intending to start businesses, which were not effective, on the internet and eBay, and also undertaking a lease and other obligations, may have found himself in financial difficulties.

"At some time on Friday morning (January 21) Neil Entwistle, with a firearm we believe he had secured at some time before that from his father-in-law, shot Rachel in the head and then proceeded to shoot baby Lillian, who was lying on the bed next to her mother." In Massachusetts, first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

The family had been renting their five bedroom house for ten days before the murders occurred after moving to the US late last year. Mr Entwistle has been linked in reports to a website offering what appeared to be get-rich-quick pyramid schemes linked to internet pornography - promising thousands of dollars in profits for a small joining fee.

Detectives believe he had come under increasing pressure from the failure of the websites, complaints to eBay about his activities and the lack of any assets or income with which to pay for the rented house.

At 5am on the day after the murders, Mr Entwistle bought a one-way ticket to England and went to his parents' home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. He missed the funeral of his wife and daughter in the US.

Appearing before Bow Street Magistrates in London, Mr Entwistle confirmed that he understood the charges and would contest the extradition. There was no application for bail, and he was due to reappear in court this morning.