I Saw Neil Entwistle

A small town reporter's personal experience with a media frenzy

by Robert Falcione

Part 1

      Monday, January 23, 2006 in Hopkinton, started out like most other days: A coffee at home, so strong that a second cup would be not only unnecessary, but over the top, very edgy. A tea at Main Street Specialties would have to do.

     The town was showered with sunlight that morning, as the traffic whirred by and people stopped at the bank and the library. The kids were at school when the news came, and people were going about their everyday business.

    Vehicles poured off of the highway, Interstate Route 495, a roadway with soft, sweeping curves that appear to have been designed for the then-presumed future of 100 mph-plus travel speeds, even though the posted limit is 65 mph. As it is, many parts of the roadway already see 80 mph-plus speeds as commonplace.

     Many of those moving in the river of steel, and exiting Route 495 into Hopkinton, are on their way to EMC, a Hopkinton born company with world-wide headquarters in its native town, and abundant room for growth. EMC and companies like it attract highly educated, technologically oriented people to the area, spurring real estate sales, and with them, traffic and sprawl. Companies like that may be the reason that the man the entire world was about to know moved here.

      The design of the roadway certainly would have accommodated the movement of troops from the forts and bases at either end, a fallback position in support of a defense against a possible invasion of the port of Boston, an event that thankfully never happened.

     Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, intersects Route 495 at the border of Hopkinton and Westboro. The scene of the double murder I was about to learn about, 6 Cubs Path, fell in a corner of those intersecting highways, which rain a symphony of passing rubber and roaring jake brakes over the former neighborhood of Neil, Rachel and Lillian Entwistle. Jake brake is a common term used for the method large trucks employ to use the engine to slow the vehicle down, saving the brakes, but converting the energy into a deafening roar. The owners of the home that the Entwistle’s rented, it has been said, had a tough time selling it. Some camera crews who camped out there would later speculate that the reason was the unending din from the highway on that small cul de sac in the northwest corner of town.

     Either way to that home is over former cart paths turned into roadways, some of which are used by passers-through as highways, turning them into raceways at rush hour, much to the dismay of the neighboring residents of the farms and former farmlands that now make up the bedroom community of 15,000 people.

     The Hopkinton roads leading to Cubs Path — Fruit Street and Saddle Hill Road — are lined with stone walls that farmers once used to mark their property lines, contain livestock, or channel pigs to feeding. Overhanging trees are protected on those roadways by statutes that also maintain that stone walls may not be moved or replaced. Mini-mansions and other expensive homes purchased by professionals and executives have been displacing the woods and fields for many years. According to one actuary, only 25% of people living in Hopkinton lived there ten years before. It is a family oriented town in the throes of a socio-economic dilemma; how a working class minority can hang on to their homes while taxes skyrocket, fueled by younger families with school age children?

     Other laws also protect parts of the downtown from ever changing, ever growing. This is part of Old Hopkinton that Townies, like Townies everywhere in New England, try to preserve. The so-called rural character is noted as one reason newcomers find the town so attractive, the aforementioned reasons are how they define it. Of course, the developers and their cohorts on the town boards and committees find those restrictions anathema to their agendas, which is a potion for political turmoil and a recipe for social disparity.

     The downtown itself, some historical residences and the town green on one side, and scant business throughout its small area, has never seen the decline that larger downtowns have seen, as malls invaded in surrounding towns over a 30 year period. Storefronts in Hopkinton remain vacant only by the choice, for whatever reasons, of a building's owner.

     The town itself is a geological curiosity, the majority of it being on two hills, with lakes at the bottoms of  each. The school sports teams are called the Hillers for the aforementioned reason.

    The Boston Marathon (Video), once an amateur race but now a commercial event with huge prize money, begins in Hopkinton, next to a larger-than-life bronze Doughboy statue, commemorating World War I veterans at Cookie's Corner. The statue, as well as the entire downtown, gets a sprucing up before that race every patriots Day, a Massachusetts holiday. 2006 will be the 110th running of that world-class event (Large gallery of Marathon photos).

    As I drank my tea in this comfort zone surrounded by friends and acquaintances, one stepped aside to answer his phone.

    “Have you heard of a double-homicide in Hopkinton?” Tim asked, turning to me.

    “No,” I replied in disbelief and with a smugness that said, if I hadn’t heard of it, it couldn’t be true.

    My phone rang.

    “Bob, there’ll be a press conference at the Police Station with the District Attorney at 10:00 a.m. this morning,” said the voice on the other end.

    “There’s been a double-murder?” I asked.”

    “You’ve heard?”

    “That’s all I’ve heard,” I said.

    “You’ll learn everything at 10:00 a.m.,” he said.


(Read  Part I)

(Read Part II)

(Read Part III)

(Read Part IV)

(Read Part V)

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