‘It’s an obvious murder’: Mother of teacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled suicide rages as bombshell new testimony may finally prove her case

EXCLUSIVE: Ellen Greenberg’s death by 20 stab wounds - including to the back of her neck - was ruled suicide. Her mother Sandra, who has spent 13 years fighting for justice and says she will ‘never give up’, says bombshell new testimony may finally prove her daughter was murdered

Andrea Cavallier
Friday 19 April 2024 16:29 BST
Ellen Greenberg was found dead in her Philadelphia apartment with at least 20 stab wounds
Ellen Greenberg was found dead in her Philadelphia apartment with at least 20 stab wounds (Change.org)

For 13 years, Ellen Greenberg’s parents have fought to prove she did not die by suicide, but that she was murdered – and now, new bombshell testimony could make their case.

In a shocking development that came earlier this week during a hearing for a civil lawsuit in the beloved Philadelphia teacher’s brutal 2011 death, the family’s attorney said the state’s former assistant district attorney is set to testify that her body was likely moved after she had been fatally stabbed at least 20 times.

“It’s an obvious murder,” Ellen’s mother, Sandra Greenberg told The Independent in reaction to Tuesday’s hearing in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

“You can’t make this up.”

Ellen’s parents Joshua and Sandee Greenberg have been fighting for justice since 2011 (Justice for Ellen Facebook page)

On 26 January 2011, Ellen was found by her fiancé, Samuel Goldberg, dead in the kitchen of their Manayunk, Philadelphia apartment. She was slumped against the cabinets, her legs splayed out in front of her.

The 27-year-old elementary school teacher had at least 20 stab wounds, many to the back of her head and neck. A 10-inch knife was lodged in her chest.

Following an autopsy at the time, pathologist Dr. Marlon Osbourne of the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office ruled her death a homicide, citing “multiple stab wounds by an unknown person.”

But with little evidence to go on, the case stalled and months later, on 11 April, Dr. Osbourne amended her death certificate, changing the manner of death to suicide.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the medical examiner was told that police were “leaning” toward suicide and looking at “mental issues” she might have had, despite her family’s pushback.

Records show Ellen was being treated for anxiety at the time, but the family’s experts hired over the years have found it’s unlikely her medications contributed to suicidal thoughts.

“She was brutally murdered, stabbed once, twice, 20 times,” Ms Greenberg said of their only child. “That’s rage. She did not do that to herself.”

From the investigation down by the Greenberg family, showing stab wounds (Tom Brennan, Greenberg family)

Through the years, the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania couple have fought to change the ruling from suicide back to either homicide or undetermined manner of death, by enlisting in their team of experts and conducting an investigation that disputed the suicide finding, and say it was changed at the insistence of the police.

“It’s been 13 years and the city has been fighting us every step of the way,” Ms Greenberg told The Independent. “Ellen was a Philadelphia girl, she deserves better from her city.”

At the hearing on Tuesday, the Greenbergs’ attorney, Joseph Podraza, in an effort to push forward with a sworn deposition of former Assisstant District Attorney Guy D’Andrea, revealed that D’Andrea had a previously unknown conversation with the city’s then-medical examiner, Dr. Samuel Gulino and Gulino then determined that Ellen’s death was a homicide.

“D’Andrea had firsthand knowledge of the file and evidence,” Mr Podraza told the judge. “Dr. Gulino told D’Andrea, ‘this is a homicide.’”

Mr Gulino allegedly told Mr D’Andrea that Ellen’s body had been in a “supine position for a period of time,” he continued.

This means she was flat on her back and not slumped in a seated position against a kitchen cabinet as she was reportedly found, according to the hearing.

Mr Podraza said that the medical examiner told Mr D’Andrea that her body was likely moved and that they were able to tell by how the blood on Ellen’s face had dried up.

He also said there was no evidence that emergency responders were the ones who moved her body.

Investigation documents show how Greenberg’s body was stabbed (Court documents)

Ellen’s mother, who was listening to the hearing on Zoom, told The Independent that she knew her daughter’s body had likely been moved after her death, because of the way her blood had coagulated.

But what she didn’t know was that the medical examiner and the assistant district attorney had had a conversation about it.

Mr D’Andrea is also set to argue that, according to the medical examiner, one of the stab wounds would have "immediately incapacitated" her, making self-infliction unlikely.

The court is allowing the Greenbergs’ attorneys to move forward with discovery and depositions in the case. Their deadline is 6 May.

Ms Greenberg said she doesn’t want to get her hopes up after 13 years of roadblocks and disappointment, but said she is pleased with the court’s decision to allow Mr D’Andrea to be deposed and believes that he can bring new evidence to the investigation.

Ellen Greenberg (Justice for Ellen Facebook page)

The Greenbergs are hoping the civil case goes to trial this fall. By filing the lawsuit, they’ll be able to hold everyone accountable in a civil case.

“Every parent in America would want this for their child,” she said. “I’m one of them, and I haven’t given up.”

After losing a recent court ruling in their attempt to have her cause of death changed, the Greenbergs are also now preparing to take their fight to the Pennsylvania supreme court.

“Our daughter did not commit suicide — we know that. She was murdered,” Mr Greenberg told The Independent in a previous interview. “They [the courts] have blatantly said the investigation was faulty on the part of the police, on the part of the medical examiner, on the part of the district attorney.”

“The way the authorities and the politicians are handling her case is a disgrace,” Ms Greenberg added.

“I want her name cleared. What I really want people to know is Ellen was our daughter, but she could be your daughter. She could be your mother, sister, friend. Think about what you would do.”

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