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Parents sue after medical examiner claims woman stabbed 20 times committed suicide

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One Philadelphia family may see justice in a lawsuit against the medical examiner’s office that declared the death of their daughter, stabbed 20 times, a suicide more than a decade ago.

(Source: CBS Philly)

Ellen Greenberg, a 27 year old first grade teacher, was found dead in her Manayunk apartment in January 2011 with stab wounds to her chest, neck, head and torso, according to police.

When the final cause of death was ruled suicide, something just didn’t add up for Greenberg’s family. They have finally been given a small win in the justice system by a judge who is allowing the family’s case to have their daughter’s manner of death changed to a homicide, proceed in a non-jury trial.

“[We are] very pleased that the court is allowing this case to go to trial. We look forward to the trial in hopes of obtaining justice for Ellen,” Sandra Greenberg, Ellen’s mother told CBS Philly.

The first grade teacher was found dead on the floor of her apartment 10 years ago by her fiancé who had just returned home from the gym.

Philadelphia police treated Greenberg’s death as a suicide because the door was locked and there was no sign of forced entry, there were no defensive wounds and no DNA on her body that wasn’t hers according to multiple reports.

Initially, the medical examiner’s office ruled Greenberg’s death a homicide evidenced by the stab wounds. However, police publicly disputed the ruling, putting pressure on the office to change the manner of death to suicide, which they eventually did months later and without explanation to the family.

“It makes no sense,” the Greenbergs’ attorney, Joseph Podraza, told The Washington Post.

To get the answers they were desperately searching for, the Greenbergs hired a team of experts to help fight the medical examiner’s reversal.

The experts turned up plenty of evidence to counter the medical examiner, according to the Post. If Greenberg planned on committing suicide, then why did she fill her gas tank after leaving school? She didn’t leave a note and there was a half-finished fruit salad on the counter above her body.

Experts noted that the manner of death– stabbing and particularly, stabbing through her own clothes–was rare in cases of suicide. Not only that, but the knife block in Greenberg’s kitchen was overturned on its side, potentially indicating a struggle.

A dried drop of blood on her face could suggest that her body was moved and a large gash on the back of her head could have rendered her incapacitated and unable to defend herself, as the police report claims she did not.

“They want to know what happened to their daughter…We now know, as far as I’m concerned, that this was not a suicide,” Podraza told The Post.

The attorney for the city argues that the medical examiner’s office made an informed determination based on years of professional experience, and further, nothing prevents law enforcement from investigating the death as a homicide, even if the death certificate denotes otherwise.

“The medical examiner’s determination is binding on no one … If a prosecuting authority were convinced that Ellen Greenberg was murdered, there is no statute of limitations on homicide and they could pursue it,” an August statement from the city reads.

Right now, Greenberg’s parents remain hopeful for a “forthright, complete investigation,” according to their lawyer.


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