When A Teachers Murder Is Ruled A Suicide

On January 26th, 2011 Philadelphia teacher Ellen Greenberg was found dead in her apartment. She had suffered 20 stab wounds but her death outrageously was ruled a suicide, even though she had 11 bruises on her right arm, abdomen and right leg and 10 of the stab wounds were to her back and neck.

Following an autopsy, the death was ruled a homicide but in February 2011 the case was reversed and ruled a suicide. Highly respected forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht reviewed the case and determined that it was a strong case for homicide, he also stated “I don’t know how they wrote this off as a suicide”. Forensic scientist Henry Lee also reviewed the case and he concluded that “the number and types of wounds and bloodstain patterns observed are consistent with a homicide scene”.

Dr Wayne Ross concluded that the stab wounds that penetrated Greenberg’s brain and spinal cord would have caused severe pain, a traumatic brain injury and cranial nerve dysfunction. However, the original medical report was done by neuropathologist Dr Lucy Rourke never mentioned any wounds to her brain or spinal cord but when Dr Rourke was interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer she said that she never observed Greenberg’s body and therefore she has no records of the examination.

In October 2019, Ellen Greenberg’s family sued the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office and Dr Marlon Osbourne who has conducted the original autopsy. The family wanted the manner of death to be changed from suicide to either homicide or undetermined because Dr Osbourne admitted that she had changed the manner of death back to suicide based on the insistence of the police.

A new technology that wasn’t available at the time the crime occurred was used to create a 3D anatomical recreation of all 20 stab wounds and it was determined that it would have been impossible for some of those wounds to be self-inflicted.

A trial to determine if the manner of death should be changed from suicide to homicide or undetermined is set to take place sometime this year. More than 27,000 signatures on a petition are in support of the case being reopened and investigated as a homicide.

Someone who many have viewed as a potential suspect is Ellen Greenberg’s fiancé Sam Goldberg. He reportedly lied to police about his actions at the scene and his whereabouts during the murder. Goldberg told police that he had gone to the gym but the buildings security guard said that he was wearing boots, not runners, he also said that the security guard helped him kick the front door down but again the security guard said that was false and he was never with Goldberg. Another questionable thing is that Goldberg called his parents and his uncle who was a lawyer before he called the police.

According to the dispatch officer, Goldberg was calm during the call and when he was asked to perform CPR before authorities arrive he replied with “do I have to?” And he also said that Ellen had probably fallen on the knife that was in her chest.

Evidence showed that the front door had no damage and therefore was not kicked down, the only damage the door had was the fact it was missing one screw from the lock. There was also a lack of blood at the crime scene which made some people believe someone had tried to clean up the scene and since police failed to complete a luminol test we will never know if that’s true or not. It was also discovered that two different knives had been used to stab Ellen, one was serrated and the other was smooth.

Rest In Peace Ellen Greenberg.

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