Internet opens window into lives shattered by crime

The Associated PressFebruary 13, 2006 

Neil Entwistle is charged in the deaths of his wife and daughter.

PHOTO COURTESY ENTWISTLE FAMILY WEB SITE

It's like countless Internet photo albums: An adorable baby girl aglow at Christmas, at her baptism, in a skunk costume for Halloween -- joined in some frames by one or both of her smiling parents.

Those pictures of Lillian Rose Entwistle, now heart-wrenching, have a far broader audience than the friends and family for whom they were intended, after she and her mother were slain and her father charged with killing them. The warm images helped catapult the Hopkinton murder from cable news onto the cover of People magazine and newspapers in Neil Entwistle's native Britain.

As Web diaries and personal home pages proliferate, the likelihood that the victim or suspect of a high-profile crime had a life online is increasing. The blogs and photos normally lost in the clutter of the Internet can speak for the dead and hint at the motivation of killers.

* NORTH CAROLINA: In the Triangle, members of the Berkley family kept blogs, or Web logs, that documented both the prelude and aftermath of Paul Berkley's shooting death.

The Clayton man and his two children all had blogs, as did his wife, Monique, who is accused of arranging his killing. They left there a chronicle of their daily lives, their fights and even an extramarital affair.

* ARKANSAS: Jacob Robida, who was being sought in a hatchet-and-gun attack at a New Bedford, Mass., gay bar when he killed a police officer, a companion and himself in Arkansas, left behind a Web site decorated with swastikas, bloodied axes and obscenity. "I'm interested in death, destruction, chaos, filth and greed," the 18-year-old wrote.

Myspace.com, the forum where Robida created his site, has more than 53 million users. Overall, the online Blog Herald estimates there are about 200 million blogs.

* VIRGINIA: Last year in Vienna, Va., the online musings of a missing 17-year-old college freshman captivated a region for weeks. Taylor Behl's online poems and photographs paint a picture of a na•ve young woman excited to venture into the world.

"I just graduated from high school," Behl typed one day on her blog, "and ... I love to meet new people."

Prosecutors allege that Ben Fawley, 38, an amateur photographer, killed Behl in September after talking with her online. Investigators found Fawley with the help of his own online postings.

"Back in the old days, one of the first things we looked for in some cases was a diary," said Andy Spruill, a police officer in Orange County, Calif., who works at Guidance Software, a cyber forensics firm. "Now that diary just happens to be online, and everybody can see it."

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