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Teacher's death ruled a suicide after 20 stab wounds – including at back of her neck

NewsTeacher's death ruled a suicide after 20 stab wounds - including at back of her neck

A Philadelphia teacher who died after being found with 20 stab wounds in 2011 did in fact kill herself, despite major doubts, an appellate court panel has confirmed.

Her parents, Joshua and Sandra Greenberg, have been battling with the city for more than a decade to have their ruling overturned, claiming evidence suggested their daughter was murdered.

First-grade teacher Ellen Greenberg, 27, was found at the home she shared with her fiancé in the late afternoon of January 26, 2011.

Her body showed signs of 20 stab wounds, including 10 to the back of her head and neck. The pathologist also found eleven bruises on her right arm, abdomen and leg.

The family hired a team of experts after her death to establish whether she would have been able to self-inflict the stab wounds or if she had instead been involved in a struggle with an unknown attacker.

Ellen’s parents challenged the suicide theory, pointing out the lack of a note and that the teacher had filled up her tank before heading home from school.

Despite the analysis they collected over the past ten years, an appellate court claimed there were no grounds for a civil lawsuit.

They however criticised Philadelphia police, prosecutors and the medical examiner’s office for a series of blunders made throughout the investigation.

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. [Sam] 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 appellate judge was especially scathing towards pathologist Dr Marlon Osbourne for initially concluding Ellen’s death was a homicide after the scene was cleaned up before police arrived.

She also noted there were not records of official interviews with the cleaning company nor the building manager or the police officer who gave the go-ahead for the scene to be cleaned.

The Greenberg family lawyer, Joe Podraza, said the building manager had taken footage of the scene before the clean-up and handed it to the police, but the clip went missing.

Podraza had previously claimed their specialist team had concluded two of the stab wounds were inflicted after Ellen’s heart had already stopped beating.

He told Fox News: “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 of Philadelphia said they were happy with the ruling but remained sympathetic to Ellen’s family.

Her parents have already confirmed they plan to appeal the decision with Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office launched a review of the case last summer, and the family is also pursuing another civil lawsuit claiming their daughter’s murder was covered up.

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