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!

Not remotely true crime related, just cool

(There was a longer entry up here, but it was too long for what it was, so I decided to post a modified version of what I first published at Random Lunatic News.)

I have good reason to pimp Michael Ian Black’s blog, even to readers of this site. The screenwriter/actor/comedian is a very funny man, but he also shows excellent judgment; I now assist Mr. Black in occasionally putting shit up on said blog. He’d recently posted an entry asking for someone to volunteer to do that, and I responded. (Okay, I’m kidding a little on his judgment. I had to go read even more of his online writing to see if there was any sign of substance abuse or mental defect after he e-mailed me in answer to my comment on his blog post, offering my ninja blogging skills. He’s clean.)

I had to re-learn some stuff I’d forgotten about the Typepad blog publishing program, but it wasn’t too hard once I got the overall lay of the land. I have created 3 banners for Mr. Black’s book, My Custom Van, which goes on sale in bookstores everywhere July 15, 2008. The least cluttered, hopefully final version of the banner is what you see there now.

Whatever you do, visit Michael Ian Black’s blog and enjoy, if you dare. We all need a break from the crime stories, sometimes.

(To clarify — Michael said he was fine with me letting people know I was helping him out. Just to be sure I didn’t overstep, I asked him if he wanted me to keep any assistance on his blog confidential, and he said no. I’m pretty sure one reason he asked his readers for volunteers for this occasional help is the fact that the guy is on the road a lot, doing his stand-up routine. In July he’ll be on the road promoting his book. Only so many hours in the day.)

<script charset=”utf-8″ type=”text/javascript” src=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ID=V20070822/US/crius-20/8001/99949435-9877-4e27-9202-febbadb7aeb0″> </script> <noscript>Amazon.com Widgets</noscript>

Jerome Sydney Barrett Indicted in Trimble Case

Click here see my previous entries about the unsolved murder of Marcia Trimble.

Today, Nashville District Attorney Torry Johnson finally announced charges against convicted sexual predator Jerome Sidney Barrett for the murder of the Green Hills school girl on Feb. 25, 1975. A grand jury handed down the indictment on Tuesday.

Barrett is currently locked up on another charge connected to the 1975 murder of college student Sarah Des Prez. He previously served several years in prison for rape. During that time he fought against being labeled the kind of predator who targeted children, even though he wasn’t connected to the Trimble case until 2007.

The story of Marcia’s murder , which haunted my hometown and my generation of Nashville natives in particular (since Marcia was a member of that generation), may now be on its final chapters after all. It really may have been a stranger all along — the very thing no one believed about the Trimble case when it first hit the news 33 years ago.

Also see this detailed article in the Nashville Post: “Arrest made in Trimble case.”

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.

Yet Another D. B. Cooper Suspect: William Pratt "Wolfgang" Gossett

William Pratt “Wolfgang” Gossett died of a stroke on September 1, 2003 in Lincoln City, Oregon. He’d led a long, fascinating life. Gossett had been an expert in military law, a teacher and assistant principal, a private investigator, a corrections officer and then administrator, a radio personality and a vicar general in the Old Catholic diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah. And if attorney Galen Cook is to be believed, Gossett was also Dan “D. B.” Cooper, the infamous skyjacker who ‘got away with it.’

The Depoe Bay Beacon is a little paper serving the folks of Depoe Bay, Oregon. It isn’t your average small-town paper; the Beacon consciously, perhaps a little cheekily, styles itself as a tabloid. Much of the paper’s content is straight-up small town news coverage, though — articles about local fishing and even the new postmaster, who began her job on April 21 this year.

But the issue that hit the local news stands and the Web on May 28 contained a big, big scoop for such a small paper, one any big tabloid specializing in celebrity scandals or stories about aliens might be proud to have — if the story ends up being true. Beacon editor Rick Beasley told the story of Wolf Gossett and how one of Gossett’s sons may have outed his father as the ultimate big one that got away.

From Beasley’s article, “Investigator Claims Depoe Bay Man Was Infamous ‘D. B. Cooper!‘” (link will take you to a PDFMeNot.com rendering of the paper — the article is on pages 9 and 10):

In an exclusive interview with the Beacon, [Galen] Cook revealed how he became convinced that former Depoe Bay mystery man Wolfgang Gossett was, in fact, the infamous skyjacker D. B. Cooper.

[…]

[Cooper’s] trail seemed to go cold at every turn until a break in the case in late 2007, thanks to the national show Coast to Coast AM, the popular late night program for 2.5 million insomniacs and other night people founded by Art Bell and hosted now by George Nouri [sic: the host’s name is spelled Noory ~ S. H.] and on Saturday nights by Ian Punnett. Punnett was interviewing Cook when a caller — Gossett’s son, Greg, a corrections officer and one of his five children — said he believed his father was D. B. Cooper…

Cook began interviewing people about Gossett. Ex-wives — Gossett was married several times — family members, former colleagues from various professions and military buddies, just to name a few.

According to Galen Cook, Gossett allegedly told his last wife that he’d “write D. B. Cooper’s epitaph.” He often talked about Cooper to others, but they usually figured he was just fascinated with the case. Two people, however, said that Gossett actually confessed. One was a Salt Lake City judge for whom Gossett worked in the 70s. Galen Cook related his interview with the judge to the Beacon. The judge allegedly said, “In 1977 he [Gossett] walked into my office and closed the door and said he thought he might be in some trouble, that he was involved in a hijacking in Portland and Seattle a few years ago and he might have left prints behind. He said he was D. B. Cooper. I told him to keep his mouth shut and don’t do anything stupid, and not to bring it up again.”

Cook also told of a retired lawyer from Newport, OR who once traveled with Gossett to Vancouver, B. C., where some of the $200,000 from the Cooper skyjacking ‘may have been stashed in a lock box.’

Galen Cook is apparently now in Alaska, at work on a book about everything he’s discovered — even though he’s run into some roadblocks during his investigation. One big obstacle he’s encountered is the FBI. Even though Cook claims to have samples of hair from Gossett that could be used to match DNA from Cooper, the Bureau has been slow to cooperate. This may be because he has sued the agency in the past in order to acquire information under the Freedom of Information Act.

*****

Gossett had documented connection with a horrifying crime that occurred in Ogden, Utah in 1974.

The “Hi-Fi Murders” were committed on April 22, 1974. Pierre Selby and William Andrews, two 19-year-old USAF Airmen, entered the Hi-Fi Shop at closing time and took five people hostage. What followed was too brutal for words; it involved torture, rape, and cold-blooded murder. In the end, three hostages were dead and two were fighting for their lives.

Selby and Andrews both received the death penalty for their crimes.

In August, 1989, William Andrews was before the Utah State Board of Pardons, trying to get his death sentence commuted to life in prison.

According to the Deseret News, Reverend Wolfgang Gossett, a “recently ordained a Roman Catholic priest,” was there to testify on Andrews’s behalf.

Gossett said, “It is I who failed to provide thorough and adequate investigation to this man.” From the Deseret News:

Andrews’ trial attorney, John Caine, had worked as a public defender less than a year when he was assigned the case. Only Andrews’ testimony was presented as mitigation in the penalty phase of the 1974 proceeding.

If Caine had been provided information from Gossett or others about Andrews’ dirt-poor upbringing in rural Louisiana, lack of formal education and broken family, he could have used the information in the sentencing phase of the capital murder case.

Gossett said Thursday he also bears the blame for not advising Caine to seek a jury instruction that they could find Andrews guilty of a lesser included offense if the state’s evidence did not warrant a capital homicide conviction…

Gossett went on to say that he knew “within a day or so” who had been the main actor in the Hi Fi Murders — Pierre Selby. About Andrews, Gossett said, “This man (Andrews) never killed anyone. He never raped anyone.”

Selby was put to death by lethal injection in 1987. Gossett’s efforts on Andrews’s behalf were futile; Andrews was executed in 1992.

*****

I have to wonder — if Gossett was Cooper after all, did he spend much of the rest of his life trying to atone for his actions? His career trajectory (fudging dates of service in the 40s notwithstanding) after the Cooper skyjacking (November 24, 1971) makes me wonder, especially his entrance into the priesthood. Gossett became a priest in the Old Catholic Church. Gossett’s chosen denominations split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1800s. There are many differences between the two: the Old Catholic Church rejects the idea that the Pope is infallible; Old Catholic priests like Gossett do not have to be celibate; and in general the Old Catholic Church has been more liberal, allowing women to be ordained and taking a less narrow view of homosexuality.

Wolf Gossett knew the law, too, and he’d worked on the right side of the law. His conscience seems to have plagued him where William Andrews was concerned; wouldn’t a man who testified in favor of commuting a death row inmate’s sentence to life have been scored by being the most well-known fugitive of the last 40 years or so? Or was that somehow different, to him?

So far, I have to admit there really isn’t a lot to convince me that this most recent in a long line of Cooper suspects might be the real deal. I mean, as much as I love Coast to Coast, it’s still… Coast to Coast. The show trades in barely believable (and frequently unbelievable) stories. I’ve been utterly fascinated with the show since 1996 or so and consider myself a fan, but I also take most of what I hear on Coast with a grain of salt.

Coast has, with Galen Cook’s cooperation, posted a number of images of Gossett on the show’s website. They show a man who fits Cooper’s description in many respects… but not as well as other disproven suspects. Duane Weber, for instance, looked a great deal like the sketches of Cooper. His wife says he confessed to being Cooper. DNA tests say he was just Duane Weber.

Also, on December 31, 2007, the FBI published new details about the Cooper case. Some of those revelations fly in the face of William “Wolfgang” Gossett being a good suspect.

Galen Cook says Wolf Gossett had some pretty advanced jump training. Gossett could be seen still wearing his “combat jump wings” in photos taken near the end of his life.

But here is what the FBI now says about Cooper’s supposed parachute training:

Cooper was no expert skydiver. “We originally thought Cooper was an experienced jumper, perhaps even a paratrooper,” says Special Agent [Larry] Carr. “We concluded after a few years this was simply not true. No experienced parachutist would have jumped in the pitch-black night, in the rain, with a 200-mile-an-hour wind in his face, wearing loafers and a trench coat. It was simply too risky. He also missed that his reserve chute was only for training and had been sewn shut—something a skilled skydiver would have checked.”

A certain dismissive attitude towards the Bureau has been evident when Cook was interviewed on Coast to Coast and also in the article published by the Depoe Bay Beacon.

I hate to admit it, but when it comes to choosing between the FBI and a dude on Coast to Coast, I still tend to go with the Bureau for veracity.

I mean, we could even try and pin the Zodiac murders on Gossett while we’re at it. His obituary states that he was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey Bay, CA in the late 60s. Most speculation about the Zodiac seems to agree that he was either military or ex-military, most likely an Air Force man. Fort Ord was less than 100 miles from the the Zodiac’s stalking grounds. Zodiac and Gossett were both between 5’8″ and 6’0″ and the most famous suspect sketch of the serial killer is a better fit for Gossett as he looked nearly 40 years ago than the Cooper sketches — in my opinion.

Talk about taking out two birds with one stone.

Of course, it won’t be that easy. If finding these faceless, mythical criminals decades after their crimes was so easy, it obviously would have been done already.

Galen Cook may churn up a publisher for his book with publicity about Gossett. He may already have a publisher. The finished book might even convince me.

But I must admit, I don’t convince so easily any more.

Unsolved: The Keddie Murders

NOTE: In the coming weeks I will be re-visiting some crime stories I’ve covered on this and other blogs in the past. I will sometimes re-post old entries from old sites with updates, and will write new posts as well. This post is, in a loose way, part of that effort. When I first referenced the horrific Keddie Murders some 3 years ago, it was really just in passing; the murders of the Groene family in May, 2005 by serial killer Joseph Edward Duncan III (see the best resource on the Web relevant to Duncan and his crimes here) resembled the Keddie Murders in many respects. There was ultimately a huge difference between the two crimes — Duncan was arrested and admitted to what he did. The Keddie Murders remain unsolved.

I decided to write a post about that horrific night in Cabin 28 because this blog has recently seen a spate of search referrals about the Keddie case. I imagine this is due to the fact that a movie titled The Strangers premieres on May 30. It stars Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and according to Wikipedia, may be based in part on the Keddie Murders. I doubt the movie was actually inspired by any one crime. The ‘inspired by real events’ tag is usually more of a marketing gimmick than anything else. Still — any new attention to this unsolved case is a good thing. You’re about to see why.

*****

Cabin 28 is gone now. It’s probably better that way.

According to Wikipedia, the cabin was razed in 2006. Another source indicates the cabin was destroyed in 2004. Either way, it was torn down to keep away the weirdos, the ghost hunters, and the teens testing each others’ bravery.

Cabin 28 in the Keddie Resort in Plumas County, CA was destroyed to try and make way for some new memories. Anything, perhaps, to finally put the old horrors to rest.

*****

Built in 1910, the idyllic Keddie Resort offered a lodge surrounded by 33 cabins. There were hiking trails winding through the pines and great trout-fishing in the mountain streams. Customers came from miles away to dine in the restaurant at the lodge.

In the late 60s, you could buy a “Feather River Canyon Holiday [and] Keddie All-Expense Week-End (sic)” for $32 per person. The junket included “a buffet dinner and overnight accomodations at Keddie Resort.”

Crime was almost unknown. Sure, in 1955 Richard Moffett and Earl Jones had an auto accident near Keddie, and the wreckage revealed that the men had stolen kitchenware from the Resort restaurant. But their injuries from the accident were probably as good a punishment as any.

Then one night in April, 1981, 15-year-old John Sharp and 17-year-old Dana Wingate hitchhiked to Keddie and Cabin 28 from nearby Quincy. John and his mom Glenna had been living in the cabin for months.

Police believe that the horrors that took place on the night of April 11 began right around the time John and Dana entered the cabin.

No one seems to know for sure if the killers entered with the boys or if they were already there. Either way, the next 10 hours or so were an orgy of violence and bloodshed.

The killers bound Glenna Sharp, John, and Dana with wire and duct tape. Tina Sharp, age 13, entered after the horrors began. She too was restrained.

The killers used knives. They used a hammer. Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001, Plumas County Sheriff’s Patrol Commander Rod DeCrona said that the victims were stabbed “so violently they bent one knife totally double from the force.” DeCrona continued, “They stabbed and pounded on everything in sight — the walls, the people, the furniture. Everything.”

DeCrona said that there was “blood sprayed absolutely everywhere.”

Sheila Sharp had stayed with a friend that night in a nearby cabin. She came home the next morning to discover that her home had been turned into an abbatoir. She was only 14.

But nothing in the Keddie case has ever been straightforward.

For example, Tina Sharp wasn’t among the dead. She was missing.

And Tina’s younger brothers — Ricky and Greg — were unharmed. They’d slept throughout the night in another room in the cabin, along with another boy who was there for a sleepover.

Neighbors in nearby cabins didn’t hear anything that night.

At least 8 investigators were on the case in the weeks just after the massacre. Speaking to a Sacramento paper in 1984, then-Plumas Sheriff Steve Wright stated that his office had put in at least 4,000 man-hours of investigation.

They couldn’t find a motive. For 3 years, they couldn’t find Tina.

Just over 3 years after the murders, someone was hunting for bottles near Feather Falls, some 50 miles from Keddie, when they discovered bones.

A state lab analyzed the bones, and in June of 1984, authorities made the announcement: they’d found what was left of Tina Sharp.

*****

There have been at least two websites devoted to this nightmarish unsolved crime. One was published in conjunction with a 2005 documentary about the murders, Cabin 28: The Keddie Murders. That site has been offline for a while, and is difficult to access via the Wayback Machine. The other site is Cabin28.com.

A look at information published by Cabin28.com gives a rough sketch of some other events in the case.

Some time after April 14, 1981, police questioned two men in connection with the murders, Martin “Marty” Smartt and John “Bo” Boubede. According to the website, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Dept. searched Smartt’s cabin and a nearby “outbuilding.” A jacket, “believed to belong to Tina [Sharp]” was found beneath the house. There may have been blood on the jacket.

[EDIT: A commenter signing off only as “Smartt” posted the following on May 28: “Please edit your blog to indicate that Marty Smartt was questioned by PCSD, the California State Police, and the FBI and was found to have no involvement with these murders and was subsequently released.“]

Apparently, the investigation never went anywhere after that. John Boubede may have been dead since 1982, and Marty Smartt since 2002.

The same website states that Tina Sharp did not receive any kind of memorial or headstone until 2002.

The owner of AsylumEclectica.com took a trip to Cabin 28 in 2001. “Comtesse” made photos and wrote a short narrative. Quote:

So, we drove up Highway 70, through the beautiful Feather River Canyon, up to Keddie Resort. A short drive down Keddie Resort Road and we were in the midst of a large number of cabins, most in disrepair and featuring ‘Condemned’ signs on the front door. We were a bit disappointed – and surprised – to find that cabin #28 is actually located right in the middle of a group of cabins, several of which seemed to be occupied. I was expecting it to be tucked away in some dark, deep secret place where we could snoop in peace, but that was not to be. I also couldn’t help but wonder how such savagery could be inflicted on several people for several hours right in the middle of this inhabited area and nobody outside heard a thing? Pretty strange…

The photos at Asylum Eclectica hold no hint of the aura of menace that must have hung over Cabin 28 in the two-plus decades following the murders there. They simply show a boarded-up, dilapidated structure that looks like nothing more than a shed, really.

Based on some discussions on a message board related to Cabin28.com, it appears as though the conflating of the mystery of Cabin 28 with The Strangers has caused some to believe that the two are one and the same, and that the story of the murders of Glenna Sharp, John Sharp, Dana Wingate, and Tina Sharp are all part of some “viral” fiction. They are not. The Keddie Murders were real, and there are newspaper articles about the murders going back to 1981, if you know where to find them. The massacre in Cabin 28 left a stain on that part of Plumas County that has pained residents ever since. While many in Plumas County would surely love for the Keddie Resort to one day be equated with something other than this bloody crime, I can’t imagine they or any surviving Sharp relatives would be anything but furious to think that some folks now believe this tragedy is nothing but a marketing tool.

But you know, the Keddie Murders may remain a mystery. That’s the sad fact about many long-unsolved crimes; they simply stay unsolved. In my own mental encyclopedia of unsolved mysteries, the Keddie Murders are closely related to the Groene murders in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — which were, of course, solved — the murders of the Bennetts in Aurora, CO in 1984, and more recently, the murder of the Short family in Virginia in 2002. The last family murder also involved an abducted child who was only found later, miles away.

The sheer enormity of these tragedies connects them. But I sometimes think they are also connected by virtue of being examples of what happens when humans unleash their most monstrous selves. Because Joseph Edward Duncan III had a blog, we know that he was giving himself over to his psychopathic demons in the weeks before he killed the Groenes, Mark McKenzie, and took away Shasta and Dylan Groene to brutalize them for weeks on end. He was giving up and letting his mask of sanity crack and fall away.

Duncan is in prison, trying to keep the needle out of his arm. The world is now safe from him. The thing that scares people about the other crimes, the ones that haven’t been solved, is the idea that the killers who committed them gave free rein to their demons — and then put the mask on again. Such things can spook you in a spiritual way, really. That’s why I find myself automatically linking such crimes, even when there is absolutely no reason to think the same killer did them all. That particular breed of serial murder is actually pretty rare.

Different hands wield the knives and the hammers. But even in my most secular, agnostic moments, I still wonder if the same sort of inhuman, timeless evil is present behind the eyes of the monsters shedding the blood.

Selected sources:

  • Sacramento Bee;
  • San Francisco Chronicle;
  • Oakland Tribune.

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.