Last week’s blog was about an arson fire that killed 32 people in a New Orleans nightclub. This week, we go to Massachusetts and meet allergist Dr. Dirk Greineder. But in 2001, Dr. Greineder murdered his wife and tried to pass it off as a random attack.
Dr. Dirk Greineder was a distinguished allergist known for his work with children’s asthma. He and his wife, Mabel (friends called her May) had been married for more than 30 years and had three grown children. They lived in Wellesley, an affluent Boston suburb where the crime rate was low murder almost unheard of.
May worked alongside her husband as his office nurse. At the same time, she was working on an advanced degree in health care.
Neighbors and friends thought of the Greineders as an especially devoted couple. They worked side by side and nearly every day they walked their German shepherds together in a nearby park. If there were signs of trouble, no one close to the Greineders saw them.
Murder in the Park
October 31, 1999. Dirk Greineder called 911 from his cell phone. He said that someone had attacked his wife near a pond while they were out for a walk. Dirk told police he’d left his wife behind when he walked the dogs because she was having back pain. When he returned, he found her lying on the path, beaten, and stabbed. Investigators found gloves, a hammer, and a pocketknife they believe to be the murder weapons hidden in a nearby storm drain.
It didn’t take detectives long to discover that the respected doctor had a secret life. Under the name of “Thomas Young,” he ran up large bills for phone sex and frequently hired prostitutes. This behavior escalated, becoming almost obsessive shortly before May’s murder. It was no surprise that police arrested Greineder in mid-November.
Dirk Greineder on Trial
Dirk Greineder faced an uphill battle at trial. Up front, there was the double life. Witnesses testified that May Greineder had become increasingly insecure about her marriage shorty before she died. She started exercising more and had been updating her wardrobe. There was also testimony that she had considered getting a facelift. The prosecution theorized that she had discovered or was about to discover her husband’s secret life. This, they said, was his motive for murder.
Another problem for the good doctor was that his DNA was all over the murder weapons. Furthermore, witnesses placed Greineder near the site where the hammer, gloves, and knife were hidden. If he were truly seeking help, he would have logically been near the main road instead. There was also evidence that Greineder had delayed making the 911 call.
The evidence seemed damning and was often sordid, but Greineder still had strong support from friends and family. This included his three children. He testified that he loved his wife and had no reason to kill her.
After a six-week trial, the jury found him guilty of first-degree murder on June 29, 2001. The conviction carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Despite the evidence and his conviction, Dirk Greineder continues to maintain his innocence. So far, his appeals have failed, and he remains incarcerated. As of 2022, his residence is the Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Norfolk.
You can read more about the Greineder murder case in Tom Farmer’s book, A Murder in Wellesley.
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