US says Briton may be suspect in family's murder

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Mystery surrounds the disappearance of a British man whose American wife and baby daughter were murdered in Massachusetts last week.

Neil Entwistle, 27, left the United States a day or two before the bodies of his wife, Rachel, 27, and the couple's nine-month-old daughter, Lillian, were found under blankets in a bed at their home in the quiet town of Hopkinton, near Boston, on Sunday.

Both were killed by bullets from a small-calibre gun, not yet found. Mrs Entwistle was shot in the head and her baby in the body, between late Thursday and Saturday.

British police said that Mr Entwistle was not a suspect in the case, but American authorities refused to rule him in or out.

American prosecutors have spoken to Mr Entwistle by phone and flew to Britain yesterday to interview him. Martha Coakley, a district attorney, declined to say where he had gone. "It is a puzzle and we have a bunch of missing pieces," she said.

Although investigators had developed a rough timeline that placed Mr Entwistle in Massachusetts when the shootings happened, she added, they were "keeping an open mind". Sources in the US confirmed he was a passenger on a flight from Boston to London late on Friday.

"He is clearly a person of interest, as any husband in a case like this would be," Ms Coakley said. "He had contacted police at one stage and we have been in touch with him since." He had also been in touch with his wife's family, in Carver, a suburb of Boston, she added.

A police spokesman in Nottinghamshire, where Mr Entwistle's parents, Clifford and Yvonne, live, said the unemployed computer programmer was "not a suspect" but a "potential witness". He said there were no extradition proceedings in relation to him. "On that basis the police in England and Wales have no legal powers to take executive action," he added. "In the circumstances, it is not our role to comment on any speculation regarding his whereabouts." Mr Entwistle grew up in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and met Rachel Souza through a rowing club in 1999 when both were at the University of York. He was studying electronic engineering with business management; Ms Souza was spending a year's study abroad. She went on to teach at St Augustine's Catholic High School in Hunt End, Redditch, Worcestershire, between 2002 and 2005.

The couple married in 2003 and their daughter was born in April 2005. The family moved to Massachusetts shortly afterwards. Relatives told investigators that the Entwistles had no history of marital problems and did not seem to be experiencing financial difficulties. Neither was working. Mr Entwistle failed to turn up to several job interviews he is believed to have arranged for last Friday.

The family had moved into the $2,700 (£1,500)-a-month, five-bedroom property - valued at £300,000 - 10 days before and were to host a dinner party on Saturday night. Family and friends arrived and found the house seemingly empty. Police were called the following day.

Ms Coakley said investigators were "looking into" allegations that Mr Entwistle may have been involved in internet scams.

American media reports claim Mr Entwistle ran "at least a pair of websites" 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 and a small sum every month.