Filed under: family crime

Hans Reiser Saves Himself From the Absolute Fiery Pit of Hell

Make no mistake about it: Hans Reiser is going to hell. I mean, if you believe in that sort of thing, then the one-time boy genius and innovator in super-duper special computer filing systems is definitely a prime candidate for the worst Satan and his imps can offer. But Reiser may have saved himself from the very worst depredations Lucifer can offer a calculating, malignant narcissist like him by helping authorities in Oakland, CA recover the body of Reiser’s murdered wife, Nina Reiser. 

The Russian-born beauty vanished in September, 2006. We now know that her then-estranged husband Hans killed her. According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reiser strangled his wife during a fight. After a good deal of wrangling, Reiser recently took a plea deal: second-degree murder, 15 years to life, as long as he cooperated with investigators.  

On Monday, Reiser led police to Nina’s 4×4 grave. From the Chronicle:

The remains that Reiser revealed Monday were found about 4 p.m. buried on the side of a steep hill off a deer trail between Redwood Regional Park and the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, less than 200 yards behind a house on Skyline Boulevard…

I didn’t follow the Reiser case all that closely because it took so long for things to happen. But if you clicked the link in Hans’s name in the first paragraph above, you know I did follow it. As much as anything, I was curious as to how a man as bright and successful as Reiser could do something as profoundly stupid as murder his wife. You’d think I’d learn. I’ve been reading true crime since the 70s, and writing about it since at least 2004. 

I mean, most people can understand great anger, to some degree. ‘Crimes of passion’ do occur, and our legal system even acknowledges this. But Reiser apparently put some thought into what he did, buying true crime books, concocting a back story, an alibi, and a barely-plausible explanation for Nina’s disappearance — he said she’d fled back home to Mother Russia.

This was a guy who was completely at home on the Internet, who fancied himself not just a groundbreaking programmer, but a writer, even a poet. Evil didn’t seem to be a big feature of his past behavior — prior to marriage, that is. 

The chances are good some of these seemingly positive qualities — the pretensions towards poetry, etc. — also reflected Reiser’s overweaning self-regard. There are vain people and then there are viciously narcissistic people, who can’t begin to grasp why they are not rulers of all they survey; I suspect Hans Reiser was one of the latter, since a fully psychopathic killer would have had some trouble really achieving some of the things Reiser was known for. People throw the word “narcissist” around a lot, use it to describe a wide variety of behaviors, but in this context it has a very clear meaning.

Other examples of the kind of narcissist I’m talking about might be Neil Entwistle, Scott Peterson, or Rabbi Fred Neulander. The conundrum of narcissists is this: most of them don’t kill, and to most who know them, they aren’t just nice people; they’re great people. Funny, charming, seductive, charismatic. A good number of famous people probably fit the narcissistic template to a T. It is only when a narcissist begins to lose that which is most important to them that things fall apart. That’s why so few celebrity meltdowns are big surprises. Those frequently come after a celebrity’s career has faltered, their star faded — what happens then is the components of the fuel most precious to a narcissist are gone — adoration, approval and love.

Hans Reiser’s marriage to a beautiful woman had failed, big time. He didn’t snap. I doubt there was anything impassioned about the murder, at all. He simply decided to exact a form of revenge, because no one was going to take what he saw as rightfully his — his children, his money, perhaps even some of his reputation. He would eliminate the problem, much as he might delete a line of code. Reiser was trying to debug his life, and get the narcissist’s operating system up and running again. In doing this, he revealed how such vanity makes idiots of everyone who gives into it — Reiser thought his background as a wunderkind primed him to go up against a police force. He probably thought he was smarter than every cop he ever spoke to.

Maybe he was, if it came to knowing the arcane ins and outs of the Linux operating system’s file structures. Reiser’s IQ was probably higher than any one cop’s, true. But one cop never puts the case away, in the real world. There might be a main actor, or the cop who gets a big break in a case, but in the end, Hans Reiser was actually up against the entire department. I once wrote that “Nina Reiser Couldn’t Win” because both the men in her life were all whacked-out in some way or another.

Fortunately, in the end, it was Hans Reiser who couldn’t win. He may have saved himself from perdition by giving those who loved Nina a chance to give her a proper burial, but still, one can only hope that if there is a hell and levels of horror therein, Hans Reiser still makes it to one of the levels where the flames do indeed burn hot, and eternally slow. 

Brief Break from Hiatus: Neil Entwistle Guilty, Faces Life in Prison

Neil Entwistle was found guilty today in the shooting deaths of his wife Rachel and baby daughter Lillian. The jury rejected the killer’s claim that Rachel committed murder-suicide.

Six women and six men took 11 hours to find Entwistle guilty on 2 counts of first-degree murder and firearms charges. First-degree murder warrants a mandatory life sentence in Massachusetts.

I found it stunning that Entwistle’s defense didn’t call a single witness. They had no rebuttal witnesses, no experts of their own to counter the State’s forensic investigation. They had nothing. In the end, it was a typical psychopath’s move — just keep lying, saying you’re innocent, blaming someone else — in this case, Rachel Entwistle — and maybe someone will believe you.

Today, the jury said no, we don’t believe you. Off to prison you go.

I think this is the point where a Briton might say something like, “good riddance to bad rubbish.”

[Link: Boston Herald]

From Huff’s Crime Blog: Neil Entwistle… Pimpin’

Michele R. McPhee’s book about the Entwistle case, Heartless: The True Story of Neil Entwistle and the Cold Blooded Murder of his Wife and Child, hit bookstores on June 3, 2008. I haven’t read the book yet, but I picked it up tonight and plan to read it over the next few weeks. In this blog entry I am reproducing much of pages 120-123 of Ms. McPhee’s book. Mainly because I wrote most of what you will read on those pages.

Yes, Ms. McPhee did reference Huff’s Crime Blog as the source, and the passage she quoted is in italics. In fact, I signed a release sometime last Autumn for Ms. McPhee to use a quote from my blog. After I signed the release I heard nothing more from the author, so I almost convinced myself that she’d decided to use other sources.

I almost never grouse about such things, but you know, a free copy of something where such a nice little chunk of my writing was quoted would have been polite. Still, the book was only $6.99, so I guess I can’t complain that much.

As usual, the following is basically reproduced as is from the first posting in Huff’s Crime Blog 2 years ago. A few links were dead, so those were simply removed. If you have Ms. McPhee’s book, you will see that she quoted the following entry beginning at “Neil Entwistle, the 27-year-old Briton” and ending with “the facade of ‘the happy family.'”

*****

Neil Entwistle… Pimpin’

February 12, 2006

By Steve Huff

I don’t intend the title of this blog entry to be funny, either. Reader Mike made a comment on a previous entry about Neil Entwistle, the 27-year-old Briton now accused of murdering his wife Rachel and their infant daughter Lillian on January 20, 2006, in Hopkinton, MA. Mike left, as readers of this blog have thankfully done numerous times lately, a very interesting link.

Certainly one of the first things I did upon seeing www.srpublications.co.uk linked to Entwistle was check the registration (whois) info on the domain.

Next thing I did was look it up via The Wayback Machine.

But Mike took a closer look. Specifically at the record made of the website on May 31, 2003. You should know before you click that link that there is a nude photo of a young woman on the page, so consider yourself warned.

What is more interesting in reference to Neil Entwistle, listed as the registrant of srpublications.co.uk beginning in September of 2002, is the text accompanying the nude photo:

– FREE UK SEX – FREE UK SEX – FREE UK SEX – FREE UK SEX –

We are setting up a Discrete UK Sex Contacts network. To get the service up and running we are offering completely free membership to all who are interested. In addition, once the service has a large number of subscribers, you will be eligable for a generous discount on any fees…

It appears he set up a separate e-mail address for this pursuit — freeContactInfo@srpublications.co.uk. The main page for all archived versions of the site shows that some of the dates have asterisks (*) beside them — that denotes a change made in the site. It appears that the site was changed again on December 5, 2003, and I can only guess that at that time the “Discrete Sex Contacts” advertisement was removed. At that time, it seems as if Entwistle must have decided to focus on marketing “The Big Penis Manual,” as it is then referred to as their “flagship product.”

This May, 2003 version of Entwistle’s srpublications.co.uk page is perhaps only significant in how it might relate to the portion of this story that has apparently been most startling to anyone following developments lately… that aside from being in a financial crisis, Neil Entwistle supposedly stated prior to his arrest that there were perhaps sexual issues in his relationship with Rachel.

To me, it seemed that we were perhaps seeing the first hints of the real problem, if Entwistle did kill his wife and child. A pathological narcissist, a psychopath, would be quite accomplished at masking his less savory behaviors by his twenties, if he was of above-average intelligence. But the pressures of supporting a family combined with a lack of gratification physically would quickly produce cracks in that mask. As would moving to a new country, far from the usual support systems.

And I also feel that the slant of these websites tells something about the self Neil was perhaps keeping secret from many people all along. I was struck by the constant appeal to the most base needs… it indicated to me that the person behind the site felt that was the quickest way to earn easy money because perhaps such things, particularly the porn, might be appealing to them, as well.

The reason the story of Neil Entwistle allegedly murdering his wife and child has gripped so many people is because it speaks again to the difference between appearances and truth. Rachel’s “Knight” was really a porn webmaster who even tried to get a service for swingers off the ground… perhaps even an escort service, though it is hard to tell from the “discrete” blurb quoted above. It doesn’t mean Neil was one (a swinger), himself, but it does show where his head was a good deal of the time.

I wonder how well a lovely wife and beautiful baby girl ever truly fit into the picture such a man had of his life… if they ever did, at all. It would have been mighty hard to hook swingers up for free if you spent the rest of your time fashioning the facade of “the happy family.”

UPDATE, 2/13/06, 12:46 a.m.

It is official — readers of Huff’s Crime Blog kick ass. Mike got his props earlier in this blog entry, now kc made a great find by combing through Neil Entwistle’s srpublications eBay offers. I’ve added this to my list of known or likely Entwistle sites found here. Here is the entry just added to that list:

  • www.moneyhound.biz. Whois info.

    Registrant:
    Mark Smith
    10 Heslington Rd
    York
    YO10 5DD
    GB
    phone: +44.19051111111
    (fake number, I’d guess.)

    Domain Registration Date: Fri Jun 13 13:20:53 GMT 2003
    Domain Expiration Date: Mon Jun 12 23:59:59 GMT 2006
    Domain Last Updated Date: Tue Aug 09 16:28:48 GMT 2005

I’m honored that some pretty sharp cybersleuths see fit to post such things on blog entries here. Finds like these only help us to dig deeper into the story and try to grasp at least a little of that which may always elude us — why these terrible things happen, what paths people take to such ends.

UPDATE, 2/13/06, 2:15 p.m.

Huff’s Crime Blog reader Charlie picked apart the new find by kc noted above, and in doing so he spotted a link that might as well be titled, “Neil Entwistle, Spam King.” That’s right — as in, e-mail spam, that crap you delete daily. This site was linked from www.moneyhound.biz.

Using 50megs.com, a free site-hosting service, Entwistle mounted another version of srpublications sometime in 2003. This man, whose in-laws, it was reported today, thought he was some sort of “secret agent” stated baldly what this particular page was about:

I can show you how to Make REAL Money with Paid to read e-mail programs! Not pennies per month but DOLLARS per day! You will learn, absolutely FREE , how to mulitply your paid to read e-mail earnings so that you will get a paycheck EVERY month from ALL of your paid to read programs.

Imagine – the 1st of the month rolls around and you get 10 checks from 10 different paid to read e-mail programs – ALL of them in excess of $50! Some of them over $100! My friend – THAT would be worth reading a few e-mails. You could even get 15 or 20 checks – it all depends on how much you want to work setting up your own, personal Multiplying E-mail Business.

If you decide to spend just a little time today – then within a month you can be getting a check from 2 or 3 different “paid to read” companies. However – if you decide RIGHT NOW to spend several days getting your Multiplying E-mail Business set up – THEN you could be getting as many as 20 checks EVERY MONTH!

Pop quiz: what kind of marketing scheme is this?

It’s simple: when I help you set up and build YOUR Multiplying E-mail Business – it helps me to further build MY Multiplying E-mail Business….it’s that simple. As you prosper – so do I. People helping people – that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

Is it a pyramid scheme, multi-level-marketing, or just plain stupid? In the Boston Herald article linked above (hat tip to fellow crimeblogger K. at oncrime.com), it was reported that Entwistle’s business card was a folded piece of paper held together with tape.

Sounds more all the time like the mask he wore was never really that well-constructed, after all. He wasn’t a secret agent, he was a lousy spam-king and wannabe pimp for U.K. swingers.

The robotic comment on the Entwistle familys’ home page, www.rachelandneil.org, “from the happy family,” has bothered me since I first saw the web page. Precisely because it seemed to be just that — robotic. What was written was what the avaricious and adolescent mind behind the boyish good looks felt others wanted to see, not understanding how false it would ring. That taped-up paper business card seems now to symbolize his entire life, right up to the moment the tape came unstuck on January 20, 2006.

LAST UPDATE ON THIS ENTRY, 2/14/06

My latest article at Court TV’s crimelibrary.com is about this aspect of the Entwistle case and how it may relate somewhat to Neil’s activities as portrayed in the recently-released affidavit for searching the Entwistle home in Hopkinton. Please click through and take a look!

From Huff’s Crime Blog: Neil Entwistle… Running Cons?

The following was first posted in Huff’s Crime Blog on January 24, 2006. I am basically reproducing the post as it has appeared for the last 2.5 years, correcting links that are dead or outdated and only the most glaring spelling or grammar issues. In these entries written when this story was first breaking there will be factual errors, and incorrect speculation: deal with it.

As I re-post entries here, I take them offline at Huff’s Crime Blog. Google may think one blog is a spam blog if it catches what look like duplicate posts.

For daily coverage of the murder trial of Neil Entwistle, see:

EntwistleMurderTrial.com.

*****


Neil Entwistle… Running Cons?

January 24, 2006

By Steve Huff

In this entry I wrote yesterday about the deaths on or around January 21, 2006 of Rachel Entwistle and her infant daughter Lillian Rose, in Hopkinton, MA, I related that Neil Entwistle, age 27, is a person-of-interest to authorities.

Entwistle is British. He is likely driving a BMW. He appears to be rather tall and nice-looking, boyish. He and Rachel met while she was doing a year of college in Great Britain. They were married in 2003, and had little Lillian in 2005. Lillian Rose was 9 months old when she was murdered. A single bullet entered the abdomens of both mother and child, and apparently was the cause of death. They were found in a bed in the home the Entwistles were renting at 6 Cubs Path in Hopkinton.

I posed the idea that perhaps Neil Entwistle was the same Neil Entwistle listed as the registrant for a scam website, millionmaker.co.uk. If he was, perhaps that website, if it were indeed the scam some on the internet perceived it to be, would ultimately figure into the “back-story” of how Rachel and Lillian Entwistle ended up dead in a nicely-appointed home in a Boston suburb.

Some readers have done sleuthing of their own and added some fuel to this fire.

First, a reader who wished to remain anonymous pointed me towards Embedded New Technologies Limited.

There isn’t much there, really, except this:

Neil Entwistle
119 Swan Drive
Droitwich
Worcs
United Kingdom
WR9 8WE

The same information for a Neil Entwistle as can be found here. The link takes you to registrant info for www.rachelandneil.org, the Entwistle family site. What was “Embedded New Technologies,” and what was Entwistle doing with it? Hard to say, as the name could mean anything. Also hard to say because it would appear that the “Embedded New Technologies” pages were created in July of 2005. Yet not long after that, the Entwistles appeared to move to Massachusetts.

More information from a reader who posted the following in the comments for my last entry about the Entwistles. A poster using “BJ” for a screen name wrote the following:

The same “Millionaire” software is listed on transactions for ebay user “srpublications” located in Worcester, UK. The last dozen or so entries are negatives saying it is a scam…

Here is an example of what “srpublications” was selling on eBay — “The MILLIONAIRE MONEY MAKER Quick Setup.”

Recall, from millionmaker.co.uk:

With MillionMaker you can be sure your investment will pay off, and best of all, there’s no waiting years for your return on investment (ROI). We will show you, step-by step, how to successfully promote your adult internet business and generate at least $6000 per month, within the first six months…

Sounds familiar to me.

The eBay feedback for srpublications was, to say the least, interesting. Beginning in early January of this year, 2006, the feedback from buyers was uniformly negative.

  • “Relisted Studio MX 8 as “unsold” when in fact ALL 20 copies were sold. WARNING!!”
  • However, there were negative notes being struck back in August of 2005, as well: “was sent 2 illegal copys NOT originals as stated + the serial is obsolete as wel(l)…” The seller responded, “Buyer should have asked if unsure. We have changed advert to be less misleading.” Note the usually British usage of the word “advert.” Rachel Entwistle was an American.
  • The feedback that caused “BJ” and yours truly to raise our eyebrows was left on January 8th of this year:

  • “Rachel Entwistle is a thieving Liar do not buy here!!”
  • “Rachel Entwistle lives in Worcester 4 gods sake!Where’s my goods?”
One idea gleaned from this is that perhaps it was Rachel Entwistle who was deceiving people, scamming, and somehow she was tracked down. However, that stretches the limits of my credulity, personally. Rachel was a teacher, and for the last 9 months, a stay-at-home mother. Neil, however, was an I.T. man, who is supposedly even now not actually “on the run,” but perhaps simply traveling to various ‘job interviews.’

I keep thinking of Christian Longo. One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in the last year was by Michael Finkel, True Story. It was Finkel’s story of getting to know Longo after the man was arrested while masquerading as… Michael Finkel. Longo was an affable charmer with a knack for salesmanship and scamming people. Before he murdered his wife and three children, he had a long pattern of dishonesty, ranging from tills not balancing in stores where he worked to the theft of large pieces of construction equipment. Longo would say all the right things, go back to church, and just do it again. Finkel’s book is a fascinating peek inside the author’s head as well as Longo’s, as for a year or so the two forge an odd sort of friendship via the phone and the occasional jailhouse interview. Longo almost had Finkel charmed into believing there was no way such a man could be cold-blooded enough to kill his family. Until Finkel sat through Christian Longo’s trial.

Maybe Rachel Entwistle had no idea her name was being used to sell scam software for srpublications.

Perhaps she found out, and that was the beginning of this story.

***** (I’ve been asked why I still blog when I am now being paid to write, and am in a good position to eventually perhaps even sell a book. Readers like the anonymous person who sent me the “Embedded New Technologies” page and “BJ,” as well as a great number of people making comments on blog entries lately are why I keep doing this. Thank you.)

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.

It is with little to no surprise that I report that CBS 4 in Boston, MA is now relating the news that Neil Entwistle may no longer be in the U.S. From the article:

Flight manifests are now being looked at to see if her husband flew out to England. CBS4 reached out to officials at Scotland Yard, who say they are unaware of any ongoing search.Neil has been out of town since Friday. His wife and daughter were found Sunday…

Some might say that if Neil Entwistle was the killer of his wife and child — and he is only a person of interest at the moment — then his getting out of the country is a shame for a number of reasons. One of them the fact that should he flee to any location in the European Union, it is highly unlikely that he will be brought back unless Massachusetts is a non-death penalty state. I do not, off the top of my head, know whether or not that state has the ultimate sanction. If it does have the death penalty, I certainly don’t know the last time someone was executed there. And the truth of the matter is, if Neil Entwistle did indeed murder his baby daughter and wife in cold blood, no small number of Americans would be glad to see such a criminal on death row.

UPDATE, 6:36 p.m.

A sharp-eyed reader named Diane spotted the following.

A Neil Entwistle registered the domain millionmaker.co.uk on May 14, 2004. Here is the address information given at the time:

Registrant:
Neil Entwistle
Registrant type:
UK Entity

Registrant’s address:
10 Heslington Rd
York
YO10 5DD
GB

Registrant’s agent:
No agent listed.

Relevant dates:
Registered on: 14-May-2004
Renewal date: 14-May-2006
Last updated: 19-Dec-2005

There was also a millionmaker.net. Here is the whois info for that domain:

domain: millionmaker.net
created: 27-Oct-2004
last-changed: 27-Oct-2005
registration-expiration: 27-Oct-2006 (…)
registrant-firstname: Mark
registrant-lastname: Smith
registrant-organization: MillionMaker
registrant-street1: 10 Heslington Road
registrant-pcode: YO10 5DD
registrant-city: York
registrant-ccode: GB

There could be more than one logical explanation for this. Perhaps MillionMaker was indeed a business with more than one employee, and Mr. Smith took care of the second domain registration.

That, or Neil Entwistle had a rather lazy approach to using an alias.

Here are a couple of other domains registered to someone who listed their address as 10 Heslington Road in York. The following could be of no significance whatsoever, but at the moment, who knows?

  • On October 28, 2004, ‘Mark Smith’ created the domain deephotsex.com.
  • October 4, 2004 saw Mr. Smith creating the domain thebigpenismanual.com.
As I was making this update, the same reader sent a note letting me know the following — Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were murdered with two bullets, not one, and Neil Entwistle has been located. From Boston.com:

Neil Entwistle, a 27-year-old British citizen, has spoken to police but Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley would not reveal his whereabouts late Tuesday. She would only say he is outside the U.S.The bodies of Rachel Entwistle, 27, and her 9-month-old daughter, Lillian, were found in a bed in their home on Sunday evening. Neil Entwistle remained a “person of interest” in the homicide investigation Tuesday, Coakley said. He has not been called a suspect. There have been no arrests…

Why would Entwistle be out of the country if he was job hunting? Perhaps “Mark Smith” knows.

FINAL UPDATE, 12:41 a.m. 1/25/06

Thanks to Kathy for pointing this out.

mrtheteacher” became a member at eBay in June of 2005.

“mrtheteacher” made only one purchase, and received three identical feedback notes. It would seem the screen name was created for the sole purpose of buying the item.

From an eBayer to whom you have already been introduced, “srpublications.”

Kathy states it best in her e-mail pointing this out to me:

I’m not done looking checking out all the feedback names, but it looks to me like he was buying from himself on Ebay in order to raise his feedback as a reputable seller–so that it would be easier for him to screw people out of their hard-earned money.Yep, Steve, this one not only smells rotten, it IS indeed rotten…

[Editor’s note: “mrtheteacher” has transactions on his account since this was originally written — most recent was in March of 2008 — I have removed direct links, as I now feel fairly sure it wasn’t a dummy account created by Entwistle to boost his feedback.]

In fairness, I can’t say I know the above to be true. But it makes plenty of tragic sense. The charming sociopath, the Christian Longo, Scott Peterson, Michael Peterson, is the most stealthy and well-concealed. How could such a great guy be so dishonest? How could he perhaps even be violent? He seemed to treat his wife and child(ren) so well.

In front of others they do, because they are playing a role, 24/7, and sometimes even these kinds of men don’t realize they’re acting. Until the pressure mounts, usually from the collapsing house of cards they’ve made from lies to resemble a life, and they drop the mask for the ones who trust them most. After that, there are just more lies, and they are already quite good at that.

EntwistleMurderTrial.com, Part II

Jury selection is underway in Massachusetts in the murder trial of Briton Neil Entwistle, age 29. I’ve already mentioned EntwistleMurderTrial.com in a previous entry, but today is the first day both Wendy Murphy and I have provided any commentary. Here’s a quote from Ms. Murphy’s contribution:

The jurors are being asked, as a group, questions that will generally unveil whether they have already formed an opinion – and that’s all that really matters. And it makes sense — nobody wants a jury full of people who have never heard of the case — such a jury would be comprised of idiots. The thing that matters is — assuming jurors have heard of the case, are they capable of keeping an open mind and holding the prosecution to its burden, etc.

Weinstein is surely going to use all this stuff to bolster his claim on appeal that the judge should have changed the venue — and he will no doubt argue that he was at a disadvantage in terms of persuading the judge to move the venue in part because he wasn’t allowed to ask the jurors the very questions that might have proved why the venue had to be changed…

To read the rest of Ms. Murphy’s comment as well as what I had to say, go here.

Tomorrow I will re-post another 2006 entry about the Entwistle case from Huff’s Crime Blog.

Matthew Gretz Confesses to Murdering Kira Simonian

Matthew Gretz pleaded guilty today to 2nd degree murder. He killed his wife, artist and grad student Kira Simonian. In court on Monday, Gretz said, “I stabbed and intentionally killed my wife.”

Gretz beat his wife and then stabbed her several times in her neck and chest.

He faces up to 25 years in prison.

I first wrote about Kira Simonian’s murder almost a year ago: “The Murder of Kira Simonian.” I didn’t say it outright, but I believed he was good for it, and of course, got grief for that — but that comes with the territory.

Finding out my intuition was correct isn’t usually a good thing, though. It wasn’t here, because based on some comments received when I first wrote about Kira’s murder, some of Matt’s friends are no doubt shocked beyond words at his confessing to his wife’s murder. It seems like Gretz had nothing in his past that predicted homicidal behavior. His plea doesn’t really explain what happened, either, and I admit I’m curious. But at least he came clean, in the end.

Thanks to Eyes for Lies for the tip.

EntwistleMurderTrial.com

The Metrowest Daily News, based in Framingham, MA, has created a website about the upcoming murder trial of Neil Entwistle:

http://www.entwistlemurdertrial.com/

If you click “Bios” at the top of the page once you get to that site, you’ll see my mug in the “Experts” section, alongside Framingham defense attorney John LaChance and a very familiar face to anyone who follows true crime stories via cable news, former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

In this blog, I recently re-posted the first entry I ever wrote about the case: “From Huff’s Crime Blog: Rachel, Neil and Lillian.”

The Entwistle case was interesting in that it seemed like I spotted the story for what it was before anyone else did. I remember having to convince my editor at the Crime Library that it would be worth it to do a story about the murders. I was asked why this case was any different from any other “domestic homicide.”

I wasn’t quite sure at the time, but I knew that the murders of Rachel and Lillian were definitely not an everyday tragedy. In part, this story was different because it reached across the Atlantic and drew the interest of the British press. When Neil Entwistle was huddled in his parents’ Worksop home in the UK, I received an early-morning phone call from journalist Ross Slater, who was then on the scene. I had the odd experience of being bleary-eyed and barely awake in Roswell, GA as Slater recounted what had just happened just after lunchtime there in England.

I ended up writing only two articles about the case for the Crime Library (that I can recall), but they were fairly thorough and not just re-writes of my blog posts:

Neil Entwistle Taken to Embassy for Questioning.”
Neil Entwistle No Stranger to Sex and the Web.”

In the end, my blog posts tracking Entwistle’s strange machinations online as he attempted to make money for nothing were probably some of the most intense work I’ve ever done as a blogger, and representative of some of the best instances I can recall where I felt I was working hand-in-hand with blog readers to figure things out. I can’t help but wonder how much of the accused murderer’s online life will end up being used in the trial.

For Entwistle, I am certain some online evidence will be crucial to the prosecution. He seemed to essentially have put himself on the horns of a great dilemma for a man who considered appearances much more important than substance; none of his online endeavors were real, and he was too computer-savvy, really — he’d also used the Web to try and meet new women around the time his wife and daughter were murdered. He was in a position to be immensely embarrassed if his wife found out what he was up to — at the very least.

As for recent developments in this case — Entwistle’s attempts to have the murder charges dismissed and get a change of venue for his trial were unsuccessful. His attorneys pointed to the high-profile nature of the case as a reason for the change of venue. Hell, if that were enough grounds, they could try the guy in England and still not get a fair shake.

Stick around for further Entwistle coverage and be sure to check EntwistleMurderTrial.com as well. At the least, this will be interesting.

Family of five found dead in San Clemente, CA

Five dead bodies were found in a home in a gated community in San Clemente, CA on Sunday. A spokesperson for the local sheriff’s dept. indicated that the deaths were likely the result of “foul play.”

Authorities came to 31 Campanilla to do a welfare check after a relative of the family living there became concerned and called the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept.

The Orange County Register reported that the dead were “an elderly woman, a man and woman ages 40-50, and two women in their early 20s, all related.” The paper related another report from a local TV station: “KCAL-TV news reported that the home was occupied by a doctor and his wife, their twin daughters and a grandmother.”

31 Campanilla was the San Clemente address for accident reconstruction specialist Dr. Manas Ucar. Ucar’s expertise was in vehicle fires, explosions, and seat belts.

At one time Dr. Ucar was a professor at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. Several newspaper articles about Dr. Ucar were published in the Syracuse Post-Standard in the 70s and 80s. Interesting in light of this story was a small announcement published in that paper in October, 1986. It told of twin daughters being born on September 6 that year to Mr. and Mrs. Manas Ucar of 734 Westscott St.

Those daughters would have been 22 this fall.

A True Crime Weblog tipster sent an e-mail pointing out that a Manas Ucar once copyrighted an original screenplay. In fact, someone with that name copyrighted several screenplays in 1996 and 1997. Some of the titles: Master Play; Light of the Morning Sun; The Adventures of Dr. Inspector Dimmier–Viva Casablanca!; Viva Casablanca! The Adventures of Dr. Michael Mirage; and Kill Me Last.

Police in San Clemente have not said if the deaths were murder-suicide or a mass homicide. They have indicated, however, that ” there is no threat to the community.”

UPDATE

Via the OC Register:

Sheriff’s Lt. Erin Giudice declined to give the exact street address for the house, but neighbors said it was 31 Campanilla. That house is owned by Manas Ucar, property record show. Ucar is listed as a consulting engineer and an expert witness for accident investigations, according to ca-experts.com – an online California database of expert witnesses.

Property records also list a Margaret or Margrit Ucar at the address.

[…]

The family that owned the house, the Ucars, had twin daughters in their early 20s, said Roxie Weaver, a neighbor.

[…]

Grace and Margaux Ucar were 2004 graduates of San Clemente High School, according to a yearbook Weaver showed to KDOC. A Grace and Margo Ucar studied human biology at UC San Diego, where they were due to graduate this year, according to a list posted on the university’s Web site.

The twins’ mother had a jewelry store at the atrium in Fashion Island, Weaver said. She said the family had lived in the gated neighborhood for 17 or 18 years and were “very private…”

Readers have filled the comments with further info, but some of that info was simply clipped from this blog entry.

From Huff’s Crime Blog: Rachel, Neil and Lillian

Briton Neil Entwistle, age 29, will soon be on trial for the January 20, 2006 murders of his wife Rachel and their baby girl, Lillian. I’ll be commenting regularly on the trial for a Boston-area publication (actually, the news outlet in question is in Framingham). More on that later this week.

I’ve decided to re-post some of the original Huff’s Crime Blog entries about the case here. Some links will be broken. Where ever possible, I have used the Wayback Machine to reproduce those links.

I also wrote about the case for Court TV’s (now TruTV) CrimeLibrary.com.

“Rachel, Neil and Lillian” was first published on January 23, 2006. The original can be read here. I wince a little now when I read some of the things I wrote 2 years ago, so I’ve done some minimal editing. Please note that the entry you are about to read was originally written when very little was known about the Entwistles. It wasn’t even public knowledge at the time that Neil Entwistle was from the UK. He was in the wind and could have even been dead.

*****

The Boston Herald reported the following on January 23, 2006:

Police are looking for the husband as a “person of interest” in the murders of his wife and infant daughter, according to Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

Rachel Entwistle, 27, and her daughter, 9-month-old Lillian, were found dead in their rental home at 6 Cubs Path Sunday at 6:30 p.m. after police responded for a well-being check.

Relatives went to the home Saturday for a planned dinner party but no one answered the door. On Sunday, relatives called police (…)

…[A]s the bodies were being moved, police discovered the wounds from what is believed to be a single small-caliber bullet that passed through both the mother and daughter’s torsos, according to Coakley (…)

Coakley said Rachael’s husband, Neil, also 27, has been traveling since Friday. She said police have some leads as to where he may be.

Relatives had last spoken to Rachel on Thursday.

The family had lived in the house for just 10 days on a short-term lease.

Coakley said Neil Entwistle was an unemployed computer worker who had moved to Hopkinton looking for work with a local tech company. He had several interviews planned.

Neighbors said they had not yet met the couple, who had been married since 2003…

In photos, the Entwistles are a handsome, approachable pair. Both of them, Neil and Rachel, have winning smiles, and Lillian is cherubic.

The Entwistles had a family webpage, the address is here — http://www.rachelandneil.org/. Lillian Entwistle’s page can be found here — Lillian Rose Entwistle.

I found the story of Rachel and Lillian being found murdered in their newly-rented home, when it was only a couple of hours old, in terms of public awareness. Even as I write this, there could have been developments in the story.

It would appear that one or both the Entwistles were British nationals, or at the least lived in the UK. From the page about their wedding day, in 2003:

Wedding in America:

Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo request the honour of your presence at the marriage of

Rachel Elizabeth Souza and Neil Entwistle

On Sunday August tenth two-thousand and three at five o’clock in the evening, Second Parish Church of Plymouth, Manomet, Massachusetts.

Reception to follow the ceremony at Plimoth Plantation, Gainsborough Hall.

England Reeption:

Novemeber 1st, 2003…

Photos of Neil and Rachel can be found on this page — Mediterranean Cruise, Christmas, 2004. There you will find photos of the couple looking happy and rested. Rachel is petite and slightly round, Neil appears to be tall and fit. Neither of them seem to have a worry in the world.

The following quote from the Entwistle’s homepage emphasized my own impression that one or both of them were British:

The three of us are doing well and are looking forward to the coming holiday season. The Baptism was wonderful and Lilly looked perfect. She even managed to recite the Lord’s Prayer with us.

Lillian is now crawling with confidence. She’s enjoying three meals a day of her Mummy’s homecooked food and is already eating a variety of finger foods.

Enjoy the newest photos from Lillian’s Baptism and the build up to Christmas. Be in touch….we love hearing from you! Love, the happy family…

Neil Entwistle’s computer acumen shows in the webpages if you visit that site — they are all elegantly designed and easy to navigate. In the Firefox web browser, if you right-click while on the page and select “page info,” you will see that the page was either created or last edited on Christmas Eve, 2005.

The Entwistles had a guestbook for their tastefully-rendered webpages. There are notes there like the following, from “Mum and Dad” Entwistle:

Hello darlings, the wedding was elegant. Neil you were the perfect gentleman. Rachel you were stunning. We are very proud of you both. We love you from mum and dad…

The first question is always, ‘how could such a thing happen?’

Even though Neil Entwistle is a “person of interest,” that in and of itself does not mean he actually murdered his wife and child — it could simply mean they were found dead on the scene and he was nowhere around — and the police are interested in making sure he is still alive and not in danger himself.

This story is still developing, and will be updated as needed on the bottom of this blog entry…

UPDATE, 11:07 p.m., 1/23/06

A reader pointed out new comments found in the guestbook at rachelandneil.org. These comments have obviously been made since the news of Rachel and Lillian Entwistle’s deaths came out:

NEIL, YOU COWARD, EITHER OFF YOURSELF OR TURN YOUR [Sorry Ass] IN AND FACE UP TO WHAT YOU’VE DONE. WHY BRING A LIFE INTO THIS WORLD JUST TO TAKE IT AWAY? WHY, “DADDY?”

I found the comment striking because it showed me that perhaps one person seemed to accept rather quickly the idea that Neil Entwistle should be the person of interest in this case. There are later comments that are more even-handed, not seeking to assume anything yet. Then again, this person may not know the Entwistles at all, and simply be assuming because the police are seeking Entwistle that he is the culprit.

Though Neil Entwistle’s career was said to be in computers, so far his footprints on the Web are few, and what is to be found doesn’t tell much. There are postings to discussion groups about coding, javascript, etc. There is an interesting post in a discussion group named scam.com. Both Dan Riehl and I discovered this, and I don’t know about Dan, but I’m not sure what to make of it. The first post, made on January 18, 2005, asks others if they think this URL is scamming people — www.millionmaker.co.uk. The link will take you to an archive.org file for the site, as it appears to no longer be online. Someone posting to scam.com did a whois on the domain and here is the information their search returned:

Domain Name:
millionmaker.co.uk

Registrant:
Neil Entwistle

Registrant’s Address:
Friar Street
Office 270 79
Worcester
WR1 2NT
GB

Registrant’s Agent:
Schlund + Partner AG [Tag = SCHLUND]
URL: http://registrar.schlund.info

The reason this site is interesting is because of the possibility that it is scamming people, and also because of the kind of opportunity it offers. From millionmaker.co.uk:

We are offering you the opportunity to make this dream a reality by tapping into the multi-billion dollar adult internet business.

With MillionMaker you can be sure your investment will pay off, and best of all, there’s no waiting years for your return on investment (ROI). We will show you, step-by step, how to successfully promote your adult internet business and generate at least $6000 per month, within the first six months…

So far, mainstream media reports indicate that Neil Entwistle and his wife and child were living in a $2700 a month rental home and that Entwistle may be driving a BMW. Though Rachel Entwistle was a teacher in the U.K., she was not yet employed here in the states.

Neil had an eBay profile (big thanks to Kathy for that find!) and the only item one can easily determine he bought recently was a high-end Sony/Ericsson mobile phone. He appears to have bought items in the past users there who are “no longer registered,” with names like femuk02 and webbsthelenscouk, but there could be no significance to Neil Entwistle’s eBay purchases at all. Additionally, the Neil Entwistle who registered the millionmaker.co.uk domain name could be a different man, entirely. The registry agent is the same for Entwistle’s known domains, however it is a very large agent. The Entwistle who registered rachelandneil.org has different contact info from the registrant for millionmaker.co.uk.

But if it was the same Entwistle, and it was a scam that had made him enough money to come to the U.S., could the site now being offline indicate that Entwistle’s scam was known to either authorities in Britain or the United States? When police seem to believe a man like Neil Entwistle could have murdered his wife and child in cold blood, does the possibility that he was living a kind of double-life enter the picture? On a messageboard discussion I began about this case, someone quickly made the observation that Rachel Entwistle’s pleasant smile made them think of Laci Peterson. My first response to that was sarcasm, since the Peterson case seems to come up any time a young mother disappears, or is murdered, but then it hit me that there could be a kind of pattern, one embodied in the Peterson case, at work here. A handsome and intelligent man, one who can ably attract smart and good-looking women, who himself is never really the same person twice when he looks in the mirror. A man who has learned to mask the inner void with charm, until one day the rage subsumes everything — that, or the vanity. When Christian Longo killed his wife and children in the Pacific Northwest a few years back, it was a case of a smooth-talking, highly presentable young man letting his usually well-concealed psychopathic self make one decision too many. Longo had a history of seemingly minor crime. The factor in Longo’s criminal history that never changed was that his crimes were always for his own gain, and his remorse was never sincere. His killing his family wasn’t that strange if one considered that he’d always tried to do things to make his own life easiest and most pleasant of all, and if that ultimately meant getting rid of the wife and kids, permanently, then to a psychopath like Longo that was a no-brainer. A handsome psychopath, whose legitimate talent in the business world was sales. John Emil List, who murdered his family in the early 70s and then was on the run for almost 3 decades — not the glad-handing narcissist that Christian Longo seemed, but still, a man who reduced everyone else in the world to abstractions, problems to be dealt with. List erased his family from the balance sheet like the accountant he was.

If Neil Entwistle is not dead somewhere himself, I suspect he will prove to be some combination of the men above, with his own wrinkles born of apparently being a native Briton thrown in the mix. Perhaps, given the legendary emotional restraint the British are so often teased about, the cultural wrinkle may prove to be a talent for hiding his antisocial side, his antisocial actions. If Entwistle is the person who killed Rachel and little Lillian, I would be surprised if he does not also prove to be the webmaster for millionmaker.co.uk, and surprised if that site does not somehow figure into the back story here.

The End of the World, by Larkin Vonalt

(Larkin Vonalt is a writer living in Ohio and until today she was simply a long-time reader of the True Crime Weblog. This well-written contribution is thoughtful, detailed, and tells one of the saddest true crime stories you may ever read. Though her first post here is sad, Larkin’s jump from the comments section to a blog post is truly most welcome. I’m sure you’ll see why I say that once you read the following. ~ Steve Huff)

On a warm spring afternoon, Maple Hill Avenue is alive with activity. A man edges his lawn, a small boy pedals his Big Wheel the length of a short driveway, a woman up the street is planting flowers. Somewhere a radio is playing and Brenda Lee’s voice floats on the soft spring air: “I can’t understand/I can’t understand how life goes on the way it does…” The winding tree-lined street is home to well-kept houses set in tidy yards. Number 642, near the crest of the hill, is not unlike its neighbors in that respect. Less than two years ago, it was a very different story.

July 13, 2006 was a warm and damp Thursday. Just before one o’clock the young mother living in the small brick ranch house ran outside to the neighbors’. Her house was on fire; her children were trapped inside. When the afternoon was over, her baby girl was dead, her young son airlifted to a Cincinnati hospital. The boy died two days later. By that time his parents had been arrested — his mother for murder and aggravated arson, his father for rape of a child under ten. A juvenile court judge allowed the father to remain free just long enough to see his young son draw last breath.

*****

Heather Boyd of Kokomo, Indiana and Doron Silverman of Indianapolis met online in 2001. Heather’s mother, Debra R. Boyd, in an interview with the Dayton Daily News, described the young couple as “soul mates.” Kokomo is only 60 miles from Indianapolis, the couple soon met in person. In July 2001, they married at the courthouse and moved into the Indianapolis home of Doron’s adoptive parents, Martin and Deanna Silverman. He was 20; Heather had just turned 19 and was two months pregnant.

Only 4 foot 11 inches tall, and a little plump, Heather Silverman is childlike. Classmates at Taylor High School describe her as “really nice” and “sweet.” Doron Silverman had a juvenile conviction at age 13 for molesting a 5-year-old child. His adoptive sister, Batya, had leveled an accusation of rape against her brother. There is nothing to indicate that Heather was aware of her husband’s history. However, Batya’s enmity towards her brother and his wife is evident in statements she made to the press.

“They lived in my parents’ home while they were married and while she was pregnant with Mikel,” Batya Silverman, 22, told the Dayton Daily News. “My parents provided them with everything.” Her infant nephew, Mikel, born February 2002, shared her bed at the Silverman home.

“From the day I got back from Israel [where she had spent her freshman year of college — Ed.] Mikel was sleeping in my bed. Heather blamed not wanting to be with him on postpartum depression. But she did not bond with that child.”

Doron Silverman had worked at Chuck E. Cheese’s Restaurant in Indianapolis, where he repaired and maintained computer games. Doron was hired when the same job opened at a Dayton franchise, so the little family moved there.

They settled on the south edge of Dayton in the predominantly white West Carrollton. Though considered a suburb, West Carrollton, established 1815, retains its own identity and small-town atmosphere. Many young families make it their home. Doron and Heather bought their house on Maple Hill for $93,000.

Heather found a job at Meijer’s grocery store a few miles away. She worked until August 2005, when morning sickness from her second pregnancy forced her to quit. Heather developed an online presence, creating profiles on MySpace as mystic_kitten82 and on Grab.com and health.exercisefriends.com as babkitten7. She also had a largely unused profile on stupidvideos.com. Her favorite video was of a dancing cat.

On the Grab.com profile, she posted that she was “A stay-at-home mom with one child and one on the way. I also sell Avon.” In one section, she detailed her desires to “Support our troops, save animals, eat vegetables, sing, Be a Great Mom, relax, cook, find friends, play computer games.” The site also reveals that she was looking for friendship and that she hoped that “The world will one day realize that we are destroying our children’s only chance for life by destroying the world.” She posted five photographs of her son, Mikel. The couples’ daughter, Keylee Selena, was born March 6, 2006 in Dayton.

On Memorial Day weekend, Doron, Heather and their children went to Indiana to visit family and attend the Indianapolis 500. Arrangements were made for Mikel to stay overnight with his Aunt Batya and her boyfriend, Joseph Farber.

Court documents allege that after spending the afternoon swimming at the pool in his Aunt’s apartment complex, Mikel was getting ready for a shower when Batya Silverman noticed him “pulling on his penis.” Batya claims that the child, while pointing to his penis, said “Poti, put your mouth on it.” “Poti” was the child’s nickname for his aunt.

Farber was called into the room. When he asked the child about the remark, Mikel did not answer. Farber launched a series of questions: had Mikel seen that behavior in a movie, or had he seen his parents engaged in “such behavior?” In each instance, Mikel said he had not. When Farber asked the boy where he’d learned the behavior, Mikel is reported to have said, “Daddy did it. No more talk.”

Batya Silverman was an undergraduate student in social work and had just completed a class on techniques for interviewing children. The next day she sat Mikel down with pens and a notebook, serving him lunch while she questioned him about the events of the day before.

Batya testified at an evidentiary hearing that after revisiting the queries her boyfriend made, she and Mikel had this exchange: “‘Do you do it to daddy too?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Well, what do you do to daddy’s pee pee?’ And he didn’t respond to me. So, I asked him, ‘Do you kiss it?’ And he very clearly replied, ‘No, I lick it.'”

Batya Silverman asked her boyfriend to watch Mikel, and went to her parents’ house to await her brother’s return from the Indianapolis 500. Heather and Doron arrived to an impromptu “intervention” with Batya, Deanna Silverman, Cindy Rottinghouse (Doron’s biological mother) and Pam, a friend of Cindy’s.

According to court documents, Batya confronted her brother with what Mikel said. When Doron didn’t respond, she accused him of molesting her years before. Doron said that he didn’t remember molesting Batya and he fled the house with Heather following, Batya on their heels. Heather asked Doron if he had “done anything” to Mikel.

“Maybe I did, I don’t remember these things,” he said.

The Dayton Daily News reported that the day after the “intervention,” Heather Silverman characterized her mood as “angry” on her MySpace blog.

“If I collected my tears thru my life they would fill the Grand Canyon,” she wrote. “Be kind to others, be good, don’t lie, don’t injure, always ask before accusing, always love and care, never ever yell it never helps.”

In a collective decision, Cindy Rottinghouse took Keylee and Mikel for a week, intending to hand them off to Deanna and Martin Silverman for ten days “so that the children would be safe, and Doron could get help,” Batya Silverman testified. However, on June 5 Batya discovered that the children had been returned to their parents rather than following the prescribed plan. She called Childrens’ Services in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Based on Batya Silverman’s complaint, Childrens’ Services enacted a “safety plan” for the Silverman family, which forbade Doron Silverman’s presence in the home, and also stipulated that he “not be around children.” Silverman continued to work at Chuck E. Cheese, as his job maintaining gaming systems didn’t require interaction with children. He moved from the Maple Hill house to a Red Roof Inn in a neighboring town.

Five days after her call to Childrens’ Services, Batya Silverman complained to the West Carrollton police department. Detectives Mark Allison and Robert Bell launched an investigation, starting the next day with a visit to the Silverman home. They spoke with Heather, who agreed that she and Doron would appear for questioning at the West Carrollton police department the next day.

Heather and Doron were interviewed separately, Heather first. Some specifics of the interview with Doron Silverman have been contested in Silverman’s appeal to the state Supreme Court, though initially both parties agreed that Doron Silverman “admitted to having Mikel’s penis in his mouth while in the bathtub with him and to fondling his son.”

Bell testified in a hearing in the Montgomery County Court that Mikel “would crawl over (Silverman’s) naked body like ‘a jungle gym’ and sometimes touch his father’s genitals.” Silverman told the detectives he was so distressed by his behavior with his son that he sought counseling and avoided seeing his son naked. He also offered that he would have to resign his job at Chuck E. Cheese as he was “sexually interested” in the children he observed there.

Doron Silverman left his job the very next day, June 14. He met with the restaurant manager, explaining that he was under investigation, due to a “child abuse” complaint made by his “in-laws,” and that Childrens’ Services stipulated that he was “not to be around children.”

Later that day, detectives appeared at the Silverman’s motel room, wanting to search his laptop computer. They were rebuffed, according to an affidavit filed in the case. On June 21 a search warrant was issued and police searched the couples’ house, vehicles and motel room. Among the items seized were cell phones, a computer, a video recorder, computer disks and a “nanny-cam” that was in one of the bedrooms.

Twice the West Carrollton police department interviewed Mikel Silverman. Jeffrey Rezabek, Heather Silverman’s attorney in the child abuse case, stated that after both interviews there were allegations that the boy was being “coached.” The “safety plan” put into place by Childrens’ Services was due to expire Thursday night, July 13. Rezabek believed Childrens’ Services planned to seek custody of the children at a hearing, as caseworkers felt that Heather would not sign another “safety plan.”

In the days leading up to the July 13 deadline, Heather went online to ask for prayers. The Dayton Daily News quoted writing from her My Space page: “I ask of any (and) all to pray for our family. It is being ripped apart and I’m gonna lose everything.” She did not disclose exactly what was going on, but her distress was clear.

On a rainy Thursday a caseworker from Childrens’ Services visited the Maple Hill house to tell Heather that a hearing was scheduled in Juvenile Court that afternoon at 3 p.m. The agency would be seeking custody of the children. Heather was reported to be “cooperative” and mentioned that she might bring her attorney to the hearing.

Heather Silverman then set out candles in the bathroom. Later she told investigators she was preparing to take a shower. Wrapping gasoline soaked rags around the lit candles, she closed the door. The Dayton CBS affiliate reported that she closed the children inside the bathroom, but this was never confirmed in print media or in any court document; it may have been a leap made by the television station.

News reports state that Heather helped her son to the front door, where he was rescued by J.W. Lunsford, a mover working in the neighborhood. Lunsford grabbed the boy and ran across the street with him. Mikel sat on the grass in shock, his body and clothing smoking. Heather Silverman was treated at the scene for burns on her hands, said to have occurred while she was trying to extricate Keylee from her infant seat. Sarah Busby, a neighbor, tried to get into the house to save the baby, but was prevented by flames and smoke. Her mother, Pattie, across the street, made a desperate call to 911.

Mikel, 80 percent of his body covered with second and third degree burns, was airlifted to Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati. Despite many attempts, no one could get to Keylee Silverman and she burned to death inside the house. Her tiny body was removed after the fire was extinguished.

On Friday, the police department issued an arrest warrant for Heather Silverman. She was taken into custody at her son’s hospital bedside. On Saturday, a warrant was issued for Doron Silverman on the child rape charges, but he was allowed to stay with Mikel in the child’s last hours. He was said to be holding Mikel’s hand when the boy died.

Batya Silverman learned of her nephew’s death by reading about it online, even though Cincinnati is only 110 miles from her residence in Indianapolis. She told Dayton reporters that she believed Heather had killed her own children to prevent Batya from “getting” Mikel.

Cathy Mong, of the Daily News, wrote that Batya “painted a picture of Heather and Doron as parents who were cold and aloof, manipulative and emotionally needy, a mother and father who never bonded with their children.” Along with unsubstantiated charges that the children were malnourished, the aunt told the reporter “Neither of them deserved a child so exceptional,” and that “(she) would have gone there and died for him.”

In sharp contrast, Debra Boyd remembers her daughter and son-in-law as attentive and interested parents. Her recollections are of a doting couple, devoted to their son, and thrilled with their new baby girl. Though both families saw the couple frequently, and Batya Silverman described her family as “supportive” of her brother, all were absent when the chips came down.

In the months after the fire, numerous Internet groups turned their attention to the Silverman tragedy. One group, VOCA (Voices of Children Alliance) engaged in ending what they see as Gestapo tactics of childrens’ welfare organizations, decided that Heather Silverman had killed her children ‘pre-emptively,” to prevent their loss to the system. A white supremacist group blogged, “Jewish Parents Rape and Kill Children.” (Doron Silverman’s adoptive parents are Jewish, but Heather and Doron are not.) On sites like Websleuths and Mydeathspace, posters called for the rape, mutilation and murder of both Silvermans. The D.A., Mathias Heck, issued a statement calling the Silvermans “evil and twisted” and cast aspersions on the media for their “sensationalist” coverage.

Heather Silverman’s case was assigned to Christopher Tucker, a public defender. She was examined by two independent psychiatrists, found to be not competent to stand trial, and remanded to Twin Valleys Behavioral Health Center for six months.

Doron Silverman stood trial in December 2006 and was found not guilty of rape, but guilty of gross sexual imposition on a person under thirteen years of age. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In February of this year, the state Supreme Court heard his case on appeal, overturning his conviction on the basis that the testimony on Mikel’s behalf was hearsay made by an admittedly hostile witness. He has been released from custody.

Heather Silverman was re-examined a year ago and found to be competent. Her trial was to begin this week. However, on April 23, she went before the court and pled guilty to the murder of her two children.

Now there are only questions. Was Heather Silverman planning to immolate herself in the fire as well? Were her actions some kind of terrible manifestation of post-partum depression? Did she kill her children to save her husband? Even if we know the answers, it doesn’t change the facts.

Two small children are dead. A woman who wanted to be “a great mom” has committed a terrible crime and will say no more. A man convicted of gross sexual imposition on his four year old son walks free.

And in the Silvermans’ old neighborhood, the radio plays Brenda Lee:

Why does my heart go on beating

Why do these eyes of mine cry

Don’t they know it’s the end of the world

It ended when you said goodbye.

Links: