Sensational Nantucket Murder Trial Begins

Thomas Toolan III is about to become a very famous man.

Opening arguments began this morning in a highly charged Nantucket murder trial that has all the elements of a Shakespearean drama for the tabloid set: a handsome Wall Street banker with alleged "wild child" tendencies and a beautiful young woman cut down in her prime in a cottage on an island paradise.

Toolan is accused of stabbing former lover Elizabeth Lochtefeld, 37, to death after she tried to break off their six-week relationship in October 2004.

"I met Tom Toolan a week before my sister died," Tom Lochtefeld told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit in an interview this week. "He seemed fairly normal. You have some apprehension. … He didn't put me at ease."

Like many brothers, Tom Lochtefeld said that he tried to get a sense of the boyfriend through his sister.

"Three weeks prior she was bubbling," he said. "All of a sudden she is not bubbling. … I'm convinced he was so arrogant he thought he could get away with it, but you've got to be held accountable."

It's been nearly three years since Elizabeth Lochtefeld's body, shredded with stab wounds, was discovered in a cottage she rented on the island. It was the first murder on the island in nearly a quarter century.

Theft a 'Prank'

Toolan, now 46, grew up near Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y. His two parents founded a Montessori school. Toolan reportedly graduated in 1991 from Columbia University in New York.

Toolan was arrested at an antiques show in 2001 at the Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan after New York City police said he tried to walk off with a 60-pound, $80,000 marble bust of a Roman aristocrat under his coat.

Toolan reportedly told a security guard who stopped him that he was "just pulling a prank." His attorney at the time told the New York Daily News that Toolan "had a lot to drink" that night. He eventually pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. A short time later, he was asked to leave his job as a vice president at Citigroup.

Neither Toolan's parents nor his attorney, Kevin Reddington, returned repeated phone calls from ABC News for comment.

Well-Traveled, Well-Educated

Elizabeth Lochtefeld grew up in Peekskill, N.Y., and spent summers during her childhood on Nantucket, where her father, John, is an artist and art gallery owner. She graduated from Notre Dame, traveled and taught English in Japan.

She moved to New York and began a consulting firm called Code NYC, which assisted architects and construction project managers trying to navigate the byzantine city building rules and regulations. The business was sold for about $1.5 million, her brother said.

Dangerous Charm?

After Toolan's arrest and the press surrounding the murder trial, his apparently dicey charm and reported mood swings became well-publicized.

After meeting Toolan on a plane, a Manhattan bartender named Becky Hammonds said she initially found him charming and well-spoken, according to The Associated Press. But on their first date, she said, he drank too much and became verbally abusive.

"At one point I was speaking with the bartender and [Toolan] said, 'You're being awfully lascivious with the bartender.' I was shocked," Hammonds told the AP. "I ended up running from him at the end of the night when I got out of the cab. "

It's a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde description that Tom Lochtefeld said he had come to know well, and one that had been echoed by women that he said had written to a Web site the family set up in his sister's honor.

"Women have written to our Web site and told stories of situations with Tom Toolan [where] they felt they barely got away with their lives," he said.

'Diminished Capacity'

Toolan has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. Late in the fall, his lawyer filed a flurry of motions seeking to have key evidence excluded from the trial, but a judge denied them in January.

In March, Reddington filed a "notice of lack of criminal responsibility, diminished capacity," indicating that he would pursue an insanity defense, reportedly based on alcohol and drug problems that in the court filing Toolan said he suffered from.

"I don't buy that for a minute!" Tom Lochtefeld said. "I read [James Frey's partially fictional memoir] 'A Million Little Pieces,' too, but half of that was fabricated. All of us at one point in time drank too much and did something we regretted, but you have to take responsibility for it. When all is said is done, you have to take responsibility."

'He's a Psycho'

In October 2004, Elizabeth Lochtefeld allegedly told Toolan she wanted to end things. He refused to let her leave his Upper West Side apartment, police said, so she reportedly slipped out at 4 a.m. on a Saturday morning after he fell asleep. She headed to Nantucket, the exclusive island off the coast of Massachusetts where she was renting a cottage. Two days later, police say Toolan flew to Nantucket. Police say he rented a car and purchased a four-inch fishing knife with an orange handle, which has never been found.

Just three hours before her body was discovered, police say, she went to a shipping store on Nantucket called Island Parcel Plus, and mailed a package to Toolan's Upper West Side apartment.

"She wanted to get rid of his things," a shopkeeper at the store told the Boston Herald about the encounter.

"I told her, 'Ex-boyfriend? Why pay to send it back? Why not put it in the dump?'" the shopkeeper told the Herald. "She said, 'No, I need to get rid of his stuff. I need to get rid of him. He's a psycho.'"

Reached by ABC News, the shopkeeper declined to comment further, because she said she would take the stand to testify in the case.

That same afternoon, Oct. 25, her body was discovered in the cottage by police after they received a call from her brother. Police say she was stabbed repeatedly. A neighbor described seeing a man resembling Toolan at the home around that day, prosecutors say. Toolan was pulled over later that day in Hopkinton, R.I., and charged with drunken driving. Police reportedly found empty beer cans and vodka bottles in the car.

'I Want to Hate Them"

Extreme discomfort is common at murder trials when the families of the victim and the defendant are forced to spend day after grueling day sitting in court together, separated only by a few rows. The Toolans and Lochtefelds have been no different.

"You'd think that with the overwhelming evidence [against Toolan] that [his family] would have sent a note of condolences," Tom Lochtefeld said. "I saw the Toolans [in court]. They did not talk. They did not look around, just sat there with blank stares on their faces."

"I want to hate them," he said. "I feel very much pity for them. They've hired a special jury-picker from Beverly Hills. They've spared no expense to try and to get their son to have a lesser sentence or to get off."

Tom Lochtefeld said he was concerned about all the media attention being paid to the trial. In addition to a cover story in People magazine, the local and national press has packed the courtroom each day, and the fever pitch of coverage is likely to grow as spring fades into summer this month.

"I'm not interested in my family's problems being someone else's entertainment," Tom Lochtefeld said his distraught father, John Lochtefeld, had said recently.

The day before jury selection began, the entire Lochtefeld family — together in Nantucket for the first time since Elizabeth Lochtefeld's death — celebrated the 51st wedding anniversary of her parents, John and Judy Lochtefeld.