Parents seek justice for daughter’s death

Investigations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — A Dauphin County couple is calling for justice more than eight years after their daughter’s death.

“She was a lot of fun to be with. I always looked forward to spending time with her, from the moment she was born until the end,” said Sandra Greenberg.

Joshua and Sandra Greenberg say their daughter Ellen was murdered. However, the Philadephia Police Department, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner and the Office of Attorney General all concluded the manner of death is suicide.

“It’s so preposterous. Ellen would never harm herself or anyone,” said Joshua Greenberg.

On January 26, 2011, the Greenbergs received an unexpected call. They were told Ellen was found dead in a Manayunk apartment she shared with her fiance.

“It’s just like a blur. You talk about shock, that was the evening of shock,” said Joshua.

Philadelphia police treated the death as suicide until the medical examiner’s office determined Ellen’s manner of death is a homicide.

“It was discovered that there were 10 stab wounds to the back of the neck and a 6.5-centimeter wound to the side of the scalp,” said Tom Brennan, a decorated law enforcement officer who is consulting on the case.

According to the medical examiner’s report, Ellen had more than 20 stab wounds on her body. Police began investigating the case as a homicide but ruled the case a suicide after a one-month investigation. Police cited no defensive wounds, no signs of forced entry, as well as Ellen’s mental state around the time of her death.

Ellen grew up in Susquehanna Township. She went to Pennsylvania State University and then made her way to Philadelphia where she was an elementary school teacher.

“She loved the children, but it was somewhat overwhelming to her. I didn’t quite understand it, and it reached a point where my husband and I felt that she should get professional help,” said Sandra. 

The Greenbergs say Ellen liked her job, but she wanted to move home. She also began seeing a psychiatrist to help her with anxiety, something police attributed to the manner of death. 

“I know a lot of people that suffer anxiety now. Does that mean they’re going to commit suicide? No,” said Brennan. 

Over the years, the Greenbergs have hired a handful of experts to look into Ellen’s death. Dr. Henry Lee of The Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science at the University of New Haven concluded “the number and type of wounds and bloodstain patterns observed are consistent with a homicide scene.”

Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist, concluded “the manner of death is strongly suspicious of a homicide.”

Neuropathologist Wayne Ross said “the scene findings were indicative of a homicide.”

“Blood does not dry and coagulate in a couple minutes. That takes time, which indicates that the body was lying in a different manner than the way it was found,” said Brennan.

The Greenbergs have fought long and hard for their daughter’s case. Last year, the state attorney general’s office opened the case. After looking into the case, it closed it earlier this year. 

“Our office conducted a thorough, comprehensive investigation and reached the same conclusion as the two Philadelphia agencies,” a spokesman said.

The office conducted a search of Ellen’s computer, which found searches for suicide. Brennan claims Ellen’s laptop was removed from the apartment by a third party before it went into police custody. 

“Any police agency, no matter who they are, would conduct a basic death investigation. That was not done here,” said Brennan.

The Greenbergs say they will not stop fighting for justice for Ellen. The family is exploring other criminal and civil options.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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