An Au Pair's Homecoming

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You can never really go home. Louise Woodward touched down on English soil Thursday for the first time in 15 months of au pair-hood, trial and notoriety. "I've really missed the old place a bit," Louise said at Manchester airport, with what one reporter described as "a slight U.S. twang." But it was not the same England she left, nor the same one that supported her to the hilt during last November's trial. The tabloids are beginning to turn on Louise: "First Class Child Killer," blared the front page of Thursday's London Mirror. It was a tale with a whiff of sour grapes -- British Airways had flown Louise in first class, with a Massachusetts state trooper beside her to keep reporters like the Mirror's at bay. Yet for a paper that once declared the au pair "free at last!" it was a stunning turnaround -- and a sign of growing disquiet over baby Matthew Eappen's death.

Whether that will translate into support for Deborah and Sunil Eappen's wrongful death lawsuit is unlikely. That case opens October 5. Louise is not compelled to attend, nor will any financial penalty be enforceable in England. And unlike O.J., she won't have any millions to lose: The only interview Louise is doing is a freebie for the BBC. Chances are the first-class treatment ends here.