Ex-neighbor: Greenberg’s voice stood out in a crowd

When one former Venice Lofts resident heard that a Philadelphia teacher had been stabbed in the apartment complex in Manayunk, she began to panic.

“I thought, I know an Ellen and she’s a teacher… it has to be her,” said Mara, who disclosed only her nickname out of safety concerns, since the cause of Ellen Greenberg’s death last week remains uncertain. 

Mara said she used to live three floors below Greenberg in the Venice Lofts complex, but moved out last summer. They used to bump into each other on numerous occasions in the halls, in the parking lot and in the elevator of their building.

Often, the two teachers would end up taking their shoes off together on the elevator after a night out with friends. Mara remembers Greenberg as an outgoing young woman with plenty of friends and a voice that stood out in a crowd.

“She had a voice that was very raspy for a female,” Mara said. “Which is funny because her personality was so sweet and she was so bubbly.”

Greenberg, 27, was found with fatal stab wounds to her chest at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night inside her Venice Lofts apartment on Flat Rock Road, just off of Main Street.

Her death is still being treated by Philadelphia police as “suspicious.” On Saturday, police backed away from earlier statements that Greenberg’s death was a “homicide.”

Greenberg was reportedly found by her fiance, Samuel Goldberg of Gladwyne, Pa., who shared the apartment with her. Mara said in her one year of small talk with Greenberg, she never mentioned a boyfriend or a fiance.

As a former tenant of Venice Lofts, Mara says she knows the security setup there well. With 24-hour security and a tenant key card system, Mara says it would be almost impossible for someone to have gotten into Greenberg’s place against her will.

“I don’t think that she did this to herself, but at the same time, I don’t know how anyone could have gotten into that apartment,” Mara said. 

The two women met back in April 2009 when Mara was moving in. Greenberg noticed the teacher’s book Mara was clutching and started up conversation. Both are elementary school teachers in Philadelphia. 

“The moments I ran into her were great moments… I always looked forward to bumping into her,” Mara said. 

Greenberg was one of the founding teachers of Juniata on Hunting Park Avenue in Philadelphia and had spent the last four years there.

Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said the School District community is “deeply saddened” by Greenberg’s death.

“Colleagues describe Ellen as a dedicated teacher who loved her profession and inspired her students to do their best,” Gallard said.

Greenberg’s parents would often travel from Harrisburg to work with the students in her classroom which showed her “complete and unconditional” dedication to the school.

A team of crisis counselors will be at the Juniata Park Academy Monday reaching out to students and staff.

Gallard says they will focus on the students in Greenberg’s classroom and then visit each classroom in the school.  They will stay in Juniata until they are no longer needed. 

NewsWorks will follow this story and post updates as they become available.

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