Family, friends of slain Upper Merion woman decry release of killer husband

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    The family of a Montgomery County woman killed by her husband in 2006 is again feeling rattled after his release Sunday upon completing his 10-year prison sentence. 

    Rafael Robb, 66, is a former University of Pennsylvania economics professor who specialized in game theory. He was sentenced to five to 10 years following a plea deal on voluntary manslaughter for the beating death of his wife, Ellen Robb, who shortly before the slaying asked for a divorce. 

    At first, Robb attempted to cover up the act; he told authorities he discovered his wife dead in the kitchen of their Upper Merion home.

    The story, however, quickly fell apart, and he admitted to killing her with a metal chin-up bar in a “moment of madness.” Ellen Robb, 49,  died of multiple blunt-force trauma.

    “He can’t simply go back into society unfettered while the memory of my sister fades away into the distance,” said Ellen Robb’s brother, Gary Gregory, standing in front of the Forrest Road home in which his sister was slain.

    He addressed reporters surrounded by a phalanx of friends and neighbors, some wiping away tears and others shivering in fur coats in the frigid temperature.

    “He was one of the most brutal killers in the history of Montgomery County in over half a century,” Gregory said.

    On Friday, Gregory filed a civil contempt of court petition against Robb, accusing him of lying under oath about his total net assets, which Robb said were in the ballpark of $3 million.

    A spokeswoman for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office confirmed that prosecutors are also examining the accuracy of the statement Robb made about his wealth, but would not say what charges were being considered.

    Attorney Eric Levin, who represents Rafael Robb, was not available for comment on Monday.

    Gregory, meanwhile, said “Robb’s release is not the last chapter in this American tragedy.”

    Robb owes $129 million to wife’s estate

    The extent of Rafael Robb’s financial assets are especially relevant since he owes the estate of Ellen Robb $128.8 million in damages after a 2014 civil jury trial over the murder.

    “Every dollar of that will go, in turn, to allow Olivia to establish a lifetime that she certainty deserves after losing her mother at 12 years old,” Gregory said of the former couple’s daughter, who is attending college.

    In the years since the murder, Gregory has established a foundation in Ellen Gregory’s name to support victims of domestic violence.

    “She was a loving mother who stayed in a relationship, an abusive relationship, because she thought it was best for her daughter,” Gregory said.

    Neighbor and friend of the family Luann Dubin said she knew Ellen Robb feared her husband. She wishes loved ones could’ve intervened sooner.

    “And it wasn’t until certain situations arrived that we were able to put all of the puzzle pieces together,” Dubin said. “And it was ultimately too late.”

    Of the many questions concerning Rafael Robb, one focuses on his whereabouts. Robb, who previously said he plans to move to Pittsburgh, has a legal right reoccupy his former home, but Dubin and other neighbors said they would do everything they could to prevent that from happening.

    The house has remained vacant since the killing. 

    “I don’t think that we would not act,” Dubin said. “I’m not sure in what way we would do that. But we are around, and we see everything that goes on at this house.”

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