Court Hears Case of Woman Stabbed 20 Times in 'Suicide'

Ellen Greenberg's parents may soon take their case to trial
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2021 12:08 PM CDT
Updated Nov 17, 2022 1:30 AM CST
Parents: Daughter Stabbed 20 Times Didn't Kill Herself
This is the type of lock that Ellen Greenberg's fiance reportedly had to break through to enter the apartment.   (Getty Images)
UPDATE Nov 17, 2022 1:30 AM CST

After more than a decade fighting the Philadelphia medical examiner's office on their daughter's cause of death, lawyers for Ellen Greenberg's parents made their case in front of a Pennsylvania appeals court Tuesday. "We are cautiously optimistic that the panel will find the estate of Ellen Greenberg may proceed to trial ... so that the manner of her death may be changed from suicide to something else," an attorney tells Fox News. He says evidence shows at least two of the 20 supposedly self-inflicted stab wounds were inflicted after Greenberg's heart had stopped beating. A judge last year had already ruled the case could advance to trial, but the city of Philadelphia appealed, the Inquirer reports. A decision from the appeals court is expected in three to six months. Separately, a DA probe into Greenberg's manner of death could lead to a homicide investigation.

Oct 27, 2021 12:08 PM CDT

Ellen Greenberg died more than a decade ago, but her parents still aren't content with the determination of how—so much so that they sued the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office. The Washington Post recaps the case thus far, starting with the 27-year-old's Jan. 26, 2011, death. The first-grade teacher had been dismissed early due to snow; fiance Sam Goldberg says he went to the apartment gym and returned to find the door's interior swing bar locked. He reportedly sent her nine frustrated texts, then said he enlisted the building security guard to break in. Greenberg was dead from stab wounds. It was ultimately ruled a suicide; her parents say that's nonsensical.

In landing on that conclusion, police noted there were no signs of a break-in or robbery, or any defensive wounds. Other than the locked front door, the only way in was through a sixth-floor balcony, but the fresh snow showed no tracks. And she was on Klonopin and Ambien, which both list suicidal ideations as a possible side effect. But the family sees holes: She filled her car with gas after school and had left a half-eaten fruit salad on the counter, which didn't suggest she was about to end her life. And the manner in which it was done—more than 20 stab wounds through her clothes, with 10 to the back of her neck—sounded off to them. A lawyer for the family also says the security guard stated he wasn't with Greenberg's fiance when he broke down the door.

The family believes that's enough to change the manner of death to homicide or undetermined, and the Philadelphia Inquirer reports they sued in October 2019. CBS Philly reports a judge ruled last week that the case can advance to a non-jury trial. In an August court filing, a lawyer for the city argues the family has no legal claim for changing the manner of death, noting, "They essentially ask this Court to sit as a sur-medical examiner, to overrule the determination of the medical professional vested by state law and the Philadelphia Code with the sole responsibility and discretion to determine the cause and manner of death." The lawyer added that the stated cause of death doesn't prevent an investigation into Greenberg's death should police later decide she was murdered. (Read more strange stuff stories.)

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