State Supreme Court affirms murder verdict on Thomas Toolan in 2004 murder of Elizabeth Lochtefeld in Nantucket

Elizabeth Lochtefeld
CWN file photo

NANTUCKET – Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe announced today that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the verdict of Murder in the First Degree in the trial of Commonwealth v. Thomas Toolan. The defendant, Thomas Toolan, (DOB: 7/31/67) was convicted of the murder of 44 year old Elizabeth Lochtefeld. The defendant was convicted on two separate theories of First Degree Murder; deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity and cruelty. The defendant also was convicted of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The defendant was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first degree murder.

The defendant and the victim met Labor Day weekend on Nantucket in 2004 and began dating. Their relationship quickly progressed. In early October, the victim became concerned with the defendant’s drinking. On October 23, 2004, the victim ended the relationship due to the defendant’s excessive drinking. On October 25, 2004, the defendant flew to Nantucket and rented a car. He drove to two stores looking to purchase knives. Next, he drove to the victim’s home. He stabbed the victim multiple times. He then flew to Hyannis and rented a car. The defendant’s car was stopped and he was arrested in Rhode Island. The defendant was convicted in Nantucket Superior Court in 2007 for first degree murder. In 2011, the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the defendant’s conviction. The defendant’s second trial was held in Barnstable Superior Court on June 10, 2013.

On appeal, the defendant raised a number of challenges to the jury instructions. The Court noted that, “[t]he Commonwealth’s case was very strong, and throughout the trial, the jury heard extensive evidence concerning the defendant’s premeditated intent.” The Court held that the claims regarding the jury instructions did not rise to the level of prejudicial error. The Supreme Judicial Court declined to exercise its discretion under G.L. c. 278, §33E to reduce the verdict.

The case was investigated by members of the State Police Detective Unit assigned to the District Attorney’s Office and the Nantucket Police. Former First Assistant District Attorney Brian Glenny was the prosecutor for both trials. Chief of Appeals Elizabeth Sweeney handled the appeals proceedings at the Supreme Judicial Court.

From CWN archives posted October 26th, 2004:
Web posted on 10/26 at 1:00 AM; last updated on 10/26 at 4:00 PM.
NANTUCKET – Residents of Nantucket are expressing shock after the island’s first murder in twenty years. The body of 44-year old Elizabeth “Beth” Lochtefeld was found in her Hawthorne Lane home early Monday afternoon. Police are officially labeling the death as “suspicious” and are referring inquiries to the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s office. The island newspaper The Inquirer and Mirror is reporting a suspect was apprehended on I-95 in Hope Valley, RI now identified as 37-year old Thomas Toolan of New York City. D.A. Michael O’ Keefe and Nantucket Police said Tuesday that the victim and suspect had a brief relationship. The process for bringing Toolan back to Massachusetts is now underway. Barnstable Police apparently narrowly missed Toolan when they went to Barnstable Municipal Airport believing he might be on a plane. Toolan instead had rented a car he was driving when he was stopped in RI.
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