Why Fathers Kill

Massachusetts authorities suspect that failed Internet business dealings and financial difficulties may have been motives in Neil Entwistle's alleged slaying of his wife and infant daughter. Experts say those are not unusual motives when fathers kill their families.

It is difficult, experts say, to categorize fathers who commit familicide because the circumstances tend to be very individualized. However, a few factors can fuel a father's slaying of his wife and children: financial difficulties and mounting pressure over his inability to support them, coupled with marital problems and a feeling that he is losing control over his family.

"There are two types: Type 1 is the father who is an abusive or a controlling figure who feels some loss of control of his household and his family, and feels that killing his family would be the ultimate expression of his control over them," said Keith Durkin, associate professor of sociology at Ohio Northern University. "Type 2 is seen in a 'reversal of fortune' situation. He may have started a business, and the business may have started going sour recently. … He is a person who sees himself as saving his family from further disgrace and humiliation by killing them."

Authorities announced today that they arrested Entwistle in England and charged him with murder in the slayings of Rachel Entwistle, 27, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian. A cloud of suspicion seemed to hover over Entwistle when authorities found his wife and infant daughter shot to death in their home on Jan. 22, suspicion that only seemed to intensify when he didn't attend their funeral last week. Authorities believe Entwistle shot them to death on Jan. 20 and flew to his parents' home in England on the same day of the slayings.

Just as it may have been the motivation in Entwistle's case, financial hardship overwhelmed Christian Longo, the Oregon man convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 for killing his wife and three children. In transcripts of his interviews with detectives, Longo never admitted to killing his wife Mary Jane, 35, and their children Zachery, 4, Sadie, 3, and Madison, 2. But he told investigators that the family had led a transient lifestyle, moving from motel to motel and living on Ramen noodles and bread in the weeks before the slayings.

Longo said his family had been used to spending $200 on groceries and not thinking twice about it — after all, he had once operated a construction cleaning business in Michigan. However, his business reportedly folded under $30,000 in lawsuits.

By the time the family moved to Oregon, Longo was wanted for forgery and passing bad checks. He told detectives that he was feeling the pressure of not being able to support his family.

"I was thinking that they were in that situation too long with me," Longo said in one of the interviews ... "that they deserved much better. I didn't know if I could give it to them."

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