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TRUMBULL COUNTY Woman: I didn't kill my children



Published: Wed, February 13, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Friends and several family members say they believe the woman is innocent.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

and DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- A woman accused of killing one son and two daughters says she loves all her children, including the one who contacted authorities.

Surrounded by her husband and several family members, Gloria Greenfield told reporters that her children died of natural causes several years ago and she did not cause their deaths.

"I am not guilty," said Greenfield, who is a supervisor at Dinesol Plastics in Niles. "I never killed my children. I could never hurt a child. I still love my daughter. She is my daughter."

Greenfield spoke with reporters after a court appearance Tuesday morning before Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

Prosecutors said Greenfield's daughter, Gloria Bennight, contacted authorities in June 2000 about the deaths of her siblings. Prosecutors declined to talk about what information Bennight may have given.

"It's a nightmare," said Greenfield. "I buried my children once, and it was horrible. Now I have to do it all over again."

Facing charges: Greenfield, 52, of Robbins Avenue, Niles, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of her three infant children 30 years ago.

Melissa Woods died March 7, 1969, when she was 2 months old. Theodore Woods II died Feb. 8, 1970, when he was a few weeks old and Regina Woods died March 5, 1971, when she was a few weeks old. The deaths had been attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, at the time.

The coroner's office has changed the causes of death for Regina and Theodore II to asphyxia, and changed Melissa's cause of death to undetermined. The manner of death for all three was reclassified as homicide.

Another child, Joseph Woods, died of pneumonia in July 1967 when he was slightly older than a month. That finding wasn't changed.

Greenfield also is charged with two counts of assault with intent to kill. She's accused of trying to kill Bennight when Bennight was 44 days old and again when she was 80 days old.

The children's father, Theodore Woods, died in August 1997. He and Greenfield had been divorced for many years at the time of his death. According to Trumbull County Probate records, Bennight was in charge of Woods' estate.

On a request from Sarah Kovoor, an assistant prosecutor, Judge Logan ordered Tuesday that Greenfield have no contact with Bennight. He also set a pretrial hearing for March 19.

No-contact order: Greenfield's attorney, Anthony Consoldane, asked that Bennight be ordered not to contact Greenfield or other family members. Judge Logan agreed. Consoldane said Bennight, who did not attend Tuesday's court proceeding, has tried to contact other family members.

Consoldane said the two haven't spoken the past few years and points to "bad blood" between them as possibly prompting Bennight to call authorities.

Consoldane added that he just received a file "8 inches thick" and six tapes from the prosecutor's office through the discovery process. Prosecutors have declined to discuss the evidence in the case. Consoldane said he hasn't yet reviewed the information.

"There are cases of SIDS," the defense attorney said. "This is almost a case of selective prosecution."

Prosecutors did note, however, that Dr. Janice Ophoven, a pediatric forensic pathologist from Minnesota, is one of their expert witnesses. Prosecutors said Ophoven is one of only a handful of experts in the area of pediatric forensic pathology.

Showing support: Greenfield's husband, David; daughter, Tonya Schubert; stepdaughter, Victoria Riley, and a handful of friends attended the hearing supporting Greenfield.

"We believe in her innocence," Schubert said.

Greenfield's grandson, Nathan Schubert, who will turn 2 later this month, kept reaching for his grandmother as she spoke to reporters.

"My family is behind me 100 percent," she said. "They tell me to tilt my head back and walk tall like I always do."

David Greenfield, a truck driver, believes in his wife's innocence. The couple married 12 years ago. Greenfield told him about the loss of her children before they were married.

"We would go to the cemetery -- we talked about this," David Greenfield said.

He noted that he bought her a mother's ring displaying a birthstone for each of her children.

"There's nothing about this woman I don't know," he said. "She's my soul mate, and soul mates talk. My wife's innocence will shine through. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body."

Other family members also support her.

"We believe in her, and we'll stand behind her, every second of every day," Riley added.

Kathie Baxter, who says she's known Greenfield for 44 years, since both were young girls, also believes in her friend's innocence.

She said Greenfield has a lot of support from friends who helped the family raise the money for her $100,000 bond.

Greenfield was devastated when each of her children died, Baxter said.

"I've never lost a child, so I can't comprehend it, but it would be terrible," he said. "Parents aren't supposed to outlive their children."

sinkovich@vindy.com

dick@vindy.com




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