Young teacher stabbed 20 times, including to the back of the head; death ruled a "suicide"

Ellen Greenberg by is licensed under
PHILADELPHIA, PA - In 2011, a Philadelphia teacher was found dead, having suffered 20 stab wounds, including 10 to the back of her head and neck.

The death was ruled a suicide by the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office. This past week, an appellate court upheld the medical examiner’s decision while condemning the police investigation as “deeply flawed,” the New York Post reports.

The teacher, Ellen Greenberg, 27 when she died, saw her family fight for over a decade to overturn the city’s ruling, hiring a team of experts to reexamine the evidence.

They discovered what appeared to be a struggle in the apartment, citing a knife that had been overturned. She also suffered a gash in the back of her head, which the experts believe may have knocked her unconscious, rendering her unable to defend herself.

More suspiciously, Greenberg had filled up her gas tank before driving home, and she did not leave any suicide note.

The appellate court ruled that her parents, Joshua and Sandra Greenberg, lacked standing for a civil suit.

That, however, did not stop the judges from roundly criticizing Philadelphia police, the prosecutor’s, the ME’s office, and pathologists Marlon Osbourne and Sam Gulino for grievous errors in their investigation, Fox News reported.

“The facts surrounding this matter are extremely disturbing, and the parents’ tireless efforts over the past 12 years to learn exactly what happened to their daughter on the evening of January 26, 2011, warrant our sincere sympathy,” Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote.

“The experts they enlisted have all raised serious factual questions about Dr. Osbourne’s and Dr. Gulino’s conclusions, and even the [medical examiner’s office] now concedes that there ‘is no dispute that evidence in the record could support other conclusions about the manner of death.’”

Judge Ceisler noted several severe flaws in the investigation. For example, Osbourne initially ruled the death a homicide; however, that came after a private crime scene cleanup company had decontaminated (or, more accurately, contaminated evidence at) the scene before police arrived with a search warrant.

“The building’s property manager, Melissa Ware, later explained that an unnamed [Philadelphia Police Department] representative had advised her to call a third-party service to clean the apartment thoroughly,” the decision stated.

“There is no evidence in the record that Ms. Ware, the unidentified cleaning service, or the PPD representative were ever interviewed by investigating authorities.”

Moreover, her fiancée’s uncle removed several items from the apartment, including her purse, three laptops, and two cell phones, the Greenberg’s attorney, Joe Podraza, told Fox News Digital.

Podraza said Ware took video of the scene before the cleanup crew’s arrival and turned it over to Philadelphia police. However, it has gone missing.

In another unusual twist in the case, a secret meeting took place one month after her death between police, prosecutors, and the two pathologists, where Greenberg’s cause of death was changed from homicide to suicide. This designation remains to this day.

“Astonishingly,” Judge Ceisler wrote, “the security guard who Greenberg’s fiancée claimed was present when he found the body denied having been there, doing so in writing.

Judge Ceiser also quoted an admission from officials that it was possible the evidence “could support other conclusions” aside from suicide, which Podraza called a “remarkable admission.”

In 2021, a neuropathologist hired by the City of Philadelphia determined that Greenberg “wasn’t alive when she was stabbed,” CBS News Philadelphia reported.

Lyndsey Emery, the neuropathologist, found “no hemorrhage” when she examined Greenberg’s spinal cord, according to a deposition taken by Podraza.

“And in your experience, no hemorrhage can equate to the person having been deceased at the time of the administration of this trauma?” Podraza asked.

“Yeah, I mean in general, no hemorrhage means no pulse,” Emery replied.

“People without pulses do not stab themselves repeatedly. So that, by itself, establishes suicide is an absolute impossibility in this case,” Podraza said. “And not only warrants but demands, changing the death certificate from suicide back to either homicide or cannot be determined for further investigation.”

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Patricia McCullough wrote that Ellen Greenberg has “been deprived of her status as a victim” due to the suicide determination, calling the death certificate “erroneous,” and noted that suicide is not a crime under Pennsylvania state law.

“The majority opinion is a roadmap on how to commit murder and to not be held accountable,” Podraza said.

“That’s the most astounding aspect of the opinion: You have, as I read it, three judges saying this young woman was murdered, the investigation is grossly flawed and embarrassing, there is a murder or murderer out there, but our hands are tied and nobody can do anything except the government officials and you’re therefore subject to their whims.”

There is currently an outside review ongoing by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, while the family is pursuing a separate lawsuit in which they allege a cover-up of evidence in her death. Podraza also noted the family will pursue an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

“The fact that we have presented that magnitude of evidence that could support a murder conviction or a murder prosecution cries out for further investigation and plainly undermines a determination of suicide,” Podraza continued.

Fox News Digital reached out to Philadelphia officials for comment. The city has previously refused to comment on the case, citing “ongoing investigations.”
For corrections or revisions, click here.
The opinions reflected in this article are not necessarily the opinions of LET
Sign in to comment



SUICIDE? So this woman stabbed herself multiple times?! Was that before or after she smashed herself on the back of the head? This is outrageous, it seems to me to be a cover-up. I hope the parents take this to the highest court in the land if need be.


Exactly! Hope the parents prevail. However it is tragic that they have to go through expense and heartache.

Powered by LET CMS™ Comments

Get latest news delivered daily!

We will send you breaking news right to your inbox

© 2024 Law Enforcement Today, Privacy Policy