How to Prevent a Murder—Yours


I’m always glad when I see happily married couples, newlyweds or those who have been married 40, 50, or 60 years or more. Personally I know a couple who has been married 63 years. You might know someone married longer than that.

Then there is the courting stage. Courting might be an outdated word, but if it is, I don’t know the modern vernacular for it.

Elizabeth Lochtefeld, who liked to be called Beth, according to the story about her on “Dateline”, only got 53 days in her relationship with Thomas Toolan before he murdered her in 2004 at her Nantucket, Massachusetts home. Multiple times he stabbed her when probably the first two or three would have been fatal.

It was an age-old story I hear about or read about countess times. At first Toolan hid the fact that he drank to excess, and smoked to excess, although if fatal, smoking is only fatal to the person doing it, except for those exposed to that smoke.

Again innumerable times I’ve heard or read this. Beth would change him. That was after he got totally inebriated a couple of times, and became violent.

I have the utmost respect for Beth trying to do that, and anybody else for that matter. The first drunken episode get away from that person as quickly as possible. You have a better chance of winning the lottery than reforming them. A reformation is possible, but quite rare. File a restraining order if necessary, not that it would do much good, but there are some legal ramifications a restraining order provides just in case you do survive.

His drunken episodes and violence became more frequent after the first one or two, and more frightening to Beth. But she was locked in, what could she do? What she did not know at the time was that he was also using drugs.

The night before Beth died, she left her Nantucket home and went to Toolan’s apartment in NYC. Take your choice of her reason.  She was going to try and patch things up, she had clothes she wanted to get out of his apartment, she wanted to tell Toolan it was over for good, permanently, forever.

Toolan pulled a gun and held Beth hostage. Finally in his drunken stupor stage he lay down in the bed with his legs on her to keep her from leaving. Eventually he either passed out or was unconscious to the extent she could escape, not using the elevator, but going down the stairs in case he woke up and pursued her before she could make her escape. She caught a flight to Nantucket.

He recuperated enough to the extent he reasoned where she went, about 4 A. M., took a cab to the airport and planned to fly to Nantucket. Security discovered a knife on him, because they confiscated.

When he arrived in Nantucket, he bought another knife,

A neighbor of Beth’s was out in her yard, and Toolan asked her if anybody was in Beth’s house. The neighbor knew who Toolan was, and tried to protect Beth by saying that she didn’t think anybody was in Beth’s house. The neighbor went in her house, called Beth’s brother in Connecticut, told him about Toolan, Beth’s brother told her to lock her door, and he called the police. When the police arrived, it was too late. Toolan had broken into Beth’s house and killed her.

Hindsight is 20/20, but at 44 Beth had probably thought in the beginning that Toolan was her first true love, and that blinded her somewhat.

She is bound to have known he was coming after her, with his persistence and violence. He had even asked her to marry him after one of his violent episodes.

She should have sat in a chair in a corner in her Nantucket home, facing everything, including the front door, and where she could see all angles that he would come at her from, covered her lap, which had a loaded gun, safety off, and ready to shoot.

True he could have had a gun too, in which the timing would be critical that she shoot first, but he only had the knife, and she had plenty of time to kill him first. No jury in Nantucket, where her father operated a gallery, would have ever convicted her.

That is how you keep from being murdered yourself. Know that first outburst of violence is only the beginning, and not the only one. And they will accelerate, not decelerate. Don’t believe a damn word he says. Call the police fourteen times a day if necessary to report that he has abused you or threatened to abuse you.

Tell the police this, which they will not like. “Next time he threatens me mentally or physically, he’s a dead man. I will blow his brains out. So don’t come out here to arrest me, because you have been told what the situation is, and if all you can comfort me with is a restraining order, then when I call you, you call the coroner. I don’t want to see the flashing lights of a police car in my driveway. I’m not dying because you did nothing. He’s dying because you didn’t protect me.”

Beth had started her own business in NYC, built it up, and sold it with what appeared to be enough money for life.

Toolan was tried for first degree murder in 2007, and convicted. The appeals court ordered a new trial because they said the judge in the first trial had not questioned the jurors properly about whether they would be influenced by what they had read or seen on TV about the case. The second trial in 2013 resulted in a first degree murder conviction and a life sentence without parole.

It’s 2016, and the island of Nantucket has gone back to it routine of being more than double its normal population with the influx of summer tourists.

To the tourists, few probably even knew Beth Lochtefeld. To those who call Nantucket home, her name will never be washed out to sea.

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