A court panel has upheld a ruling that found a United States teacher took her own life over a decade ago. Ellen Greenberg was found with 20 stab wounds in 2011.
Her family have fought for over a decade to overturn the ruling, claiming the 27-year-old was instead murdered. And while a court has now slammed the police investigation as “deeply flawed”, it has backed the suicide ruling.
Ellen’s body was covered in stab wounds when she was discovered, including 10 to the back of the head and neck. Her family also say the knife found in her apartment was overturned, suggesting a possible struggle.
She also had a gash to her head, which could have rendered her unconscious, reports the New York Post. Ellen’s family have questioned why she filled her car with gas before returning to her Philadelphia home in Pennsylvania, and why there was no indication of a suicide note.
An apellate panel on Wednesday ruled that Ellen’s parents, Joshua and Sandra, did not have the standing for a civil suit. It did however criticize the city police, prosecutor, and medical examiners office as well as the pathologists pathologists Marlon Osbourne and Sam Gulino, Fox News reports.
Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote: “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.
“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.’”
The judge was particularly critical of the pathologist’s initial conclusions that Ellen’s death was a homicide. This came after the scene had been cleaned up before police arrived.
There was reportedly no record of police interviewing the company that cleaned the area, the building manager, or the police department representative who told the manager to hire a cleanup crew. Joe Podraza, the family’s attorney, added that the building manager had taken video of the area before it was cleaned, although this is unaccounted for.
He previously claimed that the evidence showed that at least two of the 20 stab wounds were inflicted after Greenberg’s heart had already stopped beating. The attorney slammed the appellate court’s ruling as a failure to find justice for a murder victim.
Speaking to Fox, Podraza said: “The majority opinion is a road map on how to commit murder and to not be held accountable. 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 murderer or murderers out there, but our hands are tied and nobody can do anything except the government officials, and you’re therefore subject to their whims.”
A spokesperson for the city said officials are sympathetic to Ellen’s family but pleased with the court’s decision.
Ellen’s parents, who have run the Justice for Ellen campaign, say they will appeal the ruling at the state’s Supreme Court. Ellen’s death is also being reviewed by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, with the family pursuing a separate civil lawsuit alleging a cover-up over her death.