The case of a Philadelphia schoolteacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled a homicide — then changed to suicide — will be featured on the second-season premiere of Oxygen network’s Accident, Suicide or Murder at 6 p.m. Saturday.
First detailed in a March 2019 report by The Inquirer, the case of Ellen Greenberg has confounded forensic experts and veteran investigators for years.
On Jan. 26, 2011, Greenberg, 27, was discovered by her fiance on the kitchen floor of their locked Manayunk apartment with a 10-inch kitchen knife lodged in her chest.
Philadelphia police said they treated Greenberg’s death as a suicide at the scene, chiefly because the door was locked and her fiance had stayed onsite. But after the autopsy the next day, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office — which discovered 20 stab wounds to Greenberg’s body, including 10 to the back of her neck — ruled the case a homicide.
Authorities publicly disputed the medical examiner’s findings, and within months, the office changed its official ruling on Greenberg’s death from homicide to suicide — with no explanation to her parents, Joshua and Sandra Greenberg of Harrisburg.
Left in the dark, the Greenbergs gathered their own team of experts, who have questioned the medical examiner’s findings and the police investigation. When one of the attorneys the Greenbergs hired to try to get them answers — Larry Krasner — became Philadelphia’s district attorney in 2018, they asked his office to reopen their daughter’s case.
Citing a conflict of interest, Krasner recused himself and referred the case to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. After inquiries from The Inquirer in 2019, that office announced it had closed its investigation. The agency said it found evidence on Ellen Greenberg’s phone and computer that supported the suicide ruling, even though reports from the 2011 investigation said nothing indicative of suicide was found on her computer.
Right-to-Know requests by The Inquirer to view the files in Greenberg’s closed case were denied by the Philadelphia Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the state Attorney General’s Office.
In October, the Greenbergs’ attorney, Joseph Podraza Jr., filed a civil lawsuit on their behalf against the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office and the pathologist who conducted the autopsy, to get the manner of Greenberg’s death changed from suicide to undetermined or back to homicide.
Over the objection of the defendants, in January a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge ruled that the Greenbergs’ case could move forward. The case is on hold due to court closures related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since The Inquirer article, the Greenberg case has been featured on a variety of shows, websites, and podcasts, including the websites of 48 Hours and People magazine. In December, the Greenbergs and their private criminal investigator, Tom Brennan, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to talk about the case.
Brennan, a retired 25-year state police veteran and former chief of Dauphin County detectives, who is working on the case free, said he and the Greenbergs agreed to participate in Accident, Suicide or Murder to “keep this case in the public eye until such time there is justice for Ellen.” He added, “It’s because of the article in The Inquirer that we are at the point where we are.”
Betsy Rott, executive producer of Accident, Suicide or Murder, said in a statement that the Greenbergs’ determination to “find justice for their daughter” made the story “profoundly compelling.”
“When we were searching for cases to cover for Season 2, we came across Ellen’s story and the details were so disturbing and heartbreaking that it immediately grabbed our attention,” Rott said.
Brennan said he hopes officials with the local and state agencies involved with the investigations into Greenberg’s death watch the program Saturday.