Sometimes, the warning signs don’t show up
By Margery Eagan
Tuesday, June 3, 2008. Do these women suspect and not tell? Is there not some change in attitude, subtle or obvious, from a husband tried-and-true to one trolling Web sites detailing how to murder your wife and get away with it? A harsher tone, a hardened stare, maybe just distance or silence, or a hand pulled away, some sign of what’s to come?
Do these women feel this and deny it, or are they totally trusting of the men who sleep beside them – until it is too late?
Yesterday morning, Neil Entwistle, accused killer of his wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old baby, Lillian Rose, appeared grim-faced before nearly 200 potential jurors in a Woburn auditorium turned makeshift courtroom (while the Cambridge courthouse gets fixed).Longtime Superior Court Judge Diane Kottmyer addressed the jury pool from a podium. At her left, as if waiting to address them himself, Entwistle sat between defense attorneys Elliot Weinstein and Stephanie Page.
You saw his round, full face, the boyish looks, as if he barely shaves. There’s a deer-caught-in-the-headlights quality to him. You might say a sweet, startled look – if you did not know the charges against him. Mild-mannered, scrupulously polite, never angry – that’s how stunned co-workers described him, even after they learned of the accusations.
He was a British citizen on his way to the American Dream, after all. An adoring wife and new baby, the BMW leased for $468 a month. The sprawling, $2,700-a-month home – rented, but only for now. Some $6,000 in new furniture.
Yet Neil didn’t like to talk about finances, Rachel used to say. Maybe he had some secret government job in England, his in-laws had speculated. But no one doubted he was a totally loving man.
A “knight in shining armor.” That’s how one friend recalled Rachel Entwistle’s view of the man she met in 1999. The couple was madly in love. Blissful. Blessed. They seemed to have it all.
Where have I heard this before?
Lots of places, actually, which is why stories like this are so scary.
I heard it in California, when Laci Peterson, eight months pregnant, went missing and her Hollywood-handsome salesman husband gave tearful interviews to the press.
Before that, I heard it closer to home. We called them “The Camelot Couple,” at least until Charles Stuart jumped to his death from the Tobin Bridge when his claims that a black man shot his pregnant wife, Carol DiMaiti, fell apart. The murder came moments after the couple left a Brigham and Women’s birthing class.
And before that, I heard it about Kenneth and Mary Ann Seguin of Holliston, characters out of a Norman Rockwell painting, friends and neighbors agreed, until Seguin beat his wife to death and slashed the throats of his two children, ages 7 and 5.
The similarities: suburban couples with good looks, brains, from regular families, with bright futures, pretty homes and framed pictures on the walls. No history of abuse or escalation of violence or after-the-fact family recollections of black eyes blamed on walking into a door.
“But sometimes even battered women have no idea they’re going to be killed,” said former prosecutor Bill Fallon, now commentating on the trial for Sky News, one of three British outlets at the courthouse yesterday. Another common denominator in cases such as these? “The-big-man-on-campus syndrome, the double lives,” Fallon said. Wanting to live large. Big dreams. Big style. Big charm. And then the psychological component: narcissists and/or sociopaths unable to really care for or about another human being.
We all like to think we’d recognize a man like that miles away. Or pick up on telltale signs. But another common denominator in stories like these? Smart, together, seemingly happy women who likely thought they’d could see trouble coming, too. Yet they didn’t.