In a murder mystery being closely watched on two continents, law enforcement officials appeared stumped Monday by the slayings here of a young mother and her baby daughter.
"It is a puzzle," said Middlesex County Dist. Atty. Martha Coakley. "And we have a bunch of missing pieces."
Rachel Souza Entwistle, 27, was found dead Jan. 22 in her bedroom in this quiet town 26 miles west of Boston. The mother was curled around the body of 9-month-old Lillian Rose Entwistle. Both had been shot with a small-caliber weapon which has not been found, police said.
No arrests have been made, but Neil Entwistle, the victims' 27-year-old husband and father, is described by authorities as a "person of interest" in Hopkinton's first homicide since 1995. Entwistle is a computer technician who ran a freelance Internet business involving pornography. He flew to his native England close to the estimated time of the killings, authorities said.
"As we always look at family and friends, he is a person of interest to us," Coakley said.
Friends and relatives who had been invited to a dinner party at the Entwistles' on Jan. 21 found the house dark and locked when they arrived.
Called by the Entwistles' concerned relatives, Hopkinton police entered the house that night but reported nothing amiss. Family members also entered the house that night and found nothing unusual, the district attorney said. The locked house on a peaceful cul de sac showed no sign of forced entry, Coakley said.
When police returned the next day, they found the bodies under a mound of bedding, as if they had been sleeping. The bodies did not appear to have been moved, authorities said.
"They were in a natural position," Coakley said. "They were wearing normal clothes . . . they were laying close together."
Coakley said the mother and child were almost certainly slain before guests arrived for the dinner party.
"They were probably dead when people showed up," she said.
Rachel Entwistle had been shot twice, once in the head and once in the torso, authorities said. Her daughter suffered a single gunshot to the abdomen.
Coakley said the medical examiner's "best guess" is that the victims died sometime between 1 a.m. on Jan. 20, and early the next day.
Coakley said Neil Entwistle flew to England late on Jan. 20 or early on Jan. 21, leaving his BMW at Logan International Airport. She said the timeline of the killings and Entwistle's flight to England remained "blurry."
On Sunday, four state and local police officials returned to Massachusetts from England and did not reveal whether they had met with Entwistle.
"We haven't actually commented on what went on in England," Emily LaGrassa, a spokesman for the Middlesex County district attorney, said Monday. "Investigators are continuing to plug away," she said.
Entwistle, a British citizen, did not return to this country to identify the bodies of his wife and daughter, and was not named in Boston-area death notices. He has been staying with his parents in his hometown of Worksop, near Nottingham.
The couple, both avid rowers, met five years ago when Rachel Souza spent her junior year of college at the University of York. She graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in the central Massachusetts city of Worcester, and the pair were married in 2003.
They moved into their rented two-story house here 10 days before the bodies were found. On Monday, the front porch lights glowed on either side of the bright red front door.
Hopkinton, a community of 14,000 that was founded in 1715, is best known as the starting point for the Boston Marathon. The Entwistles lived in a development called Roosevelt Farms, with equestrian trails and spacious Colonial-style homes.
Douglas McNabb, a Washington, D.C., attorney who specializes in international criminal defense, said Monday that state or U.S. officials could not seek to extradite Entwistle unless he was charged with a crime. McNabb said the extradition process from Britain can be cumbersome. "This could take years," he said.
Over the weekend, the Souza family issued a statement expressing confidence that Massachusetts authorities would "bring to justice those responsible" for the killings.
Rachel and Lillian Entwistle will be buried Wednesday in Kingston, Mass., near Rachel's hometown of Plymouth.