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Parents of schoolteacher sue medical examiner after it ruled she killed herself, stabbed 20 times


The parents of a schoolteacher who died in January 2011 are suing a Pennsylvania medical examiner’s office after it ruled she had killed herself by stabbing herself 20 times. 

Ellen Greenberg’s parents, Sandee and Joshua, have been granted a non-jury trial in their lawsuit against the coroner’s office over her death in her Philadelphia apartment, CBS Philly reported. 

Greenberg, 27, was discovered with 20 stab wounds in the kitchen of her Philadelphia apartment on January 26, 2011 by her fiance Sam Goldberg, with the Medical Examiner’s Office initially ruling the death a homicide.  

She was stabbed 10 times in the neck and the back of her head and 10 times in her stomach, abdomen and chest. A knife was still plunged in her heart. 

At the time, police claimed that the door of Greenberg’s apartment had been locked from the inside and that there were no signs of a struggle. 

Medical Examiner Marlon Osbourne subsequently changed the cause of death to suicide and the case was closed, according to the lawsuit.

Ellen Greenberg, 27, pictured, was stabbed 20 times in the kitchen of her Philadelphia apartment in January 2011, with the coroner ruling that the cause of death was a suicide

Greenberg is pictured with her parents Sandee and Joshua prior to her death. The couple are suing the medical examiner's office, insisting their daughters death was not a suicide

Greenberg is pictured with her parents Sandee and Joshua prior to her death. The couple are suing the medical examiner’s office, insisting their daughters death was not a suicide

Last Friday, the Greenberg family and their lawyer made their case in front of a city judge to argue her death was not a homicide, but rather a suicide. 

‘We are very pleased that the court is allowing this case to go to trial,’ Sandra Greenberg, Ellen’s mother, told CBS Philly.  

‘We look forward to the trial in hopes of obtaining justice for Ellen.’ 

The Greenberg family had hired a team of experts following her death, who noted that a knife found in her apartment had been overturned, which suggested the possibility of a struggle.

Meanwhile, a stab wound on the back of her head likely rendered her unconscious and unable to fend off any possible attackers, and more importantly unable to continue stabbing herself, her family’s lawyer argued. 

‘It makes no sense,’ the Greenbergs’ attorney, Joseph Podraza, told the Washington Post.

‘People without pulses to not stab themselves repeatedly.’  

Family attorney Joe Podraza, pictured. The case of a Philadelphia schoolteacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled a homicide - then changed to suicide

Family attorney Joe Podraza, pictured. The case of a Philadelphia schoolteacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled a homicide – then changed to suicide

Ellen, left, with father Josh Greenberg, right. The case of a Philadelphia schoolteacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled a homicide - then changed to suicide

Ellen, left, with father Josh Greenberg, right. The case of a Philadelphia schoolteacher whose death by 20 stab wounds was ruled a homicide – then changed to suicide

The image showing all of the injuries - 10 stabs to the back of the neck and 10 to the front of the body - and is consistent with being attacked from behind rather than any self-inflicted injury

The image showing all of the injuries – 10 stabs to the back of the neck and 10 to the front of the body – and is consistent with being attacked from behind rather than any self-inflicted injury

Pictured: images showing knife wounds N and T After studying a sample of her spinal cord the family's neuropathologist found that these wounds had pierced her brain and severed the cord

Pictured: images showing knife wounds N and T After studying a sample of her spinal cord the family’s neuropathologist found that these wounds had pierced her brain and severed the cord

Greenberg had even filled up her gas tank before coming home, and she didn’t leave a suicide note, either, casting even more doubts on the likelihood that her death was caused by suicide. 

Podraza added that her family has continued to get to the bottom of her cause of death, even as the last ten years have passed. 

‘They want to know what happened to their daughter,’ he told the outlet.

Meanwhile, an attorney representing the city of Philadelphia cited the medical examiner’s years of experience, while adding that Greenberg’s death certificate does not stop authorities from further investigating her death as a homicide, even after the case was closed. 

‘The medical examiner’s determination is binding on no one… If a prosecuting authority were convinced that Ellen Greenberg was murdered, there is no statute of limitations on homicide and they could pursue it,’ the city argued in court filings, the paper reported. 

The Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General had alleged that several death and  suicide- related searches has been performed on Greenberg’s laptop in the weeks leading up to her death. 

Marlon Osbourne, pictured, was the medical examiner who ruled Greenberg's death a suicide

Marlon Osbourne, pictured, was the medical examiner who ruled Greenberg’s death a suicide

Pictured: the Philadelphia apartment building where Greenberg lived. Her body was discovered in the kitchen of her home with 20 stab wounds back on January 2011

Pictured: the Philadelphia apartment building where Greenberg lived. Her body was discovered in the kitchen of her home with 20 stab wounds back on January 2011

According to Podraza, the hard-drive was subsequently examined by the FBI lab in 2011 and no such searches were found. 

Podraza recently hired his own expert to examine the hard-drive, with the results confirming what the FBI concluded: Greenberg did not search for anything related to suicide prior to her death.  

Additionally, Podraza commissioned a photogrammetry recreating each of Greenberg’s 20 stab wounds.

Photogrammetry – a new technology which was unavailable at the time of Greenberg’s death – is able to create a 3D anatomical recreation of a corpse. 

It showed the size, depth, and length of each stab wound, with the creators concluding that all of them could not have been self-inflicted – particularly the ones to the back of Greenberg’s neck and head. 

‘We do not believe Ellen Greenberg took her own life,’ Podraza told DailyMail.com in January, 2021 on the ten-year anniversary of her death. 

For confidential support call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255 





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