The house where onetime University of Pennsylvania professor Rafael Robb beat his wife to death in the days before Christmas in 2006 went on the market this week.
The house on Forest Road in Upper Merion Township for years was part of an ongoing legal battle between Robb and the estate of Ellen Gregory Robb.
Listed for sale Monday at $279,900, the split-level, 2,790-square-foot property is described as “a major investment opportunity.” The three-bedroom property is being sold as-is, and the listing states that significant renovations are needed. The real estate site Zillow estimated the average home value for the zip code at almost twice the price of the house.
Robb, a former Penn economics professor, killed 49-year-old Ellen Robb on Dec. 22, 2006. He later confessed to police that he “lost it" in an argument with her as she was wrapping Christmas presents. His wife had met with divorce attorneys and was preparing to leave him when she was killed, her family has said.
Robb pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2007 in a deal that sent him to prison for 10 years, a sentence that his wife’s family has criticized as too lenient. Robb was released in January 2017.
While he was still in prison, her family and his estranged daughter won a $124 million wrongful death judgment against Robb. The release and sale of the long-vacant house follows an agreement in August in which Robb agreed to relinquish 75% of nearly $3 million in his investment and pension assets to satisfy the judgment.
Gary Gregory, Ellen Robb’s brother, said the house is one of the last assets left to be liquidated or transferred. After legal fees and other costs, he said, Robb’s now-adult daughter will be left with a relatively small sum. The family has dedicated the years since the murder to domestic violence awareness and created a foundation called Every Great Reason that works with victims.
“This is the paltry sum we get in return for Ellen’s life sentence,” said Gregory. “Robb is living his life free and clear, while Ellen is not and we are not.”
» READ MORE: Jury awards $124 million to Ellen Robb's estate
In a 2017 hearing related to his parole, Robb testified that he might need to return to the Upper Merion home, sparking concern among his former wife’s relatives as well as neighbors. Gregory said he believed Robb now lives in the Pittsburgh area.
“He won’t be coming back to the house,” said Gregory. “We have no reason to think he will return to this area.”