June 29

This Day in History

Crime

Jun 29, 2001:

Boston doctor found guilty of killing wife

On June 29, 2001, Boston doctor Dirk Greineder, 60, is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Mabel Greineder, 58, his wife of more than 30 years.

Dirk Greineder was a distinguished allergist. His wife, known as May, worked for him as a nurse and was pursuing an advanced degree in healthcare. The couple had raised three children, and lived in Wellesley, a tony--and usually crime-free--Boston suburb. Neighbors and friends saw the couple as especially close and devoted to each other. Nearly every day, they walked their German shepherds together in a nearby park.

On October 31, 1999, Dirk called 911 from his cell phone to report that his wife had been attacked near a pond at their local park while the two were out for a walk. According to his testimony, he had left his wife to exercise their dog because she had been experiencing back pain, and when he returned to her, he found her beaten body prostrate on the path. She had been nearly decapitated and stabbed in the chest. Police found gloves, a hammer and a pocketknife believed to be used in the murder in a nearby storm drain.

In the course of their investigation, it was discovered that the well-respected and accomplished Dirk Greineder had been living a secret life. Using the alias "Thomas Young," he had frequently downloaded internet pornography; rang up substantial phone sex bills; and regularly arranged meetings with prostitutes in hotels and at his home office. In fact, police found that he had contacted a prostitute the day after his wife’s murder. Believing that the doctor had killed his wife in order to more freely pursue his extramarital sexual activities, he was arrested in mid-November 1999.

Over the course of the trial, prosecutors described how Dirk had set up a phony company and used it to apply for a corporate credit card in the name "Thomas Young"; that he had frequently solicited group sex and escorts; and that this behavior seemed to become almost obsessive in the week before his wife’s murder. In those seven days, the doctor contacted several prostitutes, had sex with at least one, and sometimes spent more than four hours per day on internet porn sites, in addition to keeping up with a demanding career. Several witnesses testified that May had become increasingly insecure about the marriage, and had become focused on buying new clothes, exercising more often and had even thought about getting a face lift. Prosecutors pointed to the conclusion that May either had discovered her husband’s secret life, or was getting very close, and that Dirk wanted her out of the way.

Prosecutors also stressed that witnesses placed Greineder in the moments after the murder emerging from the area where the murder weapons were found hidden instead of heading in the most likely place to find help, the main road. The prosecution also introduced evidence that the doctor had delayed making the 911 call, that the gloves and hammer likely belonged to Dirk and that the blood found at the scene, including on Dirk’s body, was not consistent with his story.

Despite some seemingly damning evidence, Dirk Greineder enjoyed strong support from friends and family, including the couple’s three children. The doctor testified about how much he loved his wife and that they were looking forward to their daughter’s upcoming wedding. Although he said he was unsure if his wife knew of his sexual affairs, he intimated that the outside sex may have contributed to the strength of their relationship. The defense contended that the doctor had no reason at all to kill his wife.

Despite a mostly circumstantial case against him, Dirk Greineder was found guilty of first-degree murder on June 29, 2001, after a six-week trial and four days of deliberations. Later in the day, Greineder was given the mandatory sentence, life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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