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Old 01-08-2007, 02:23 PM
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Default The Murder of Ellen Robb, 49

Cops: Penn Professor's Wife Found Slain at 'Bloody Crime Scene'

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — Authorities investigating the recent bludgeoning death of an Ivy League professor's wife believe the slaying was staged in order to look like a burglary, the district attorney said.

Investigators searched Rafael Robb's office at the University of Pennsylvania, but the economics professor denies having anything to do with Ellen Robb's death.

"It's not unusual in these investigations that they first start off closest to home," said Robb's attorney, Francis Genovese. "He is hopeful, as am I, that (authorities) are continuing to pursue all leads and not just focusing solely on him."

Ellen Robb, 49, was found beaten to death Dec. 22 in the kitchen of their house in upscale Upper Merion Township, just outside Philadelphia. Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor on Thursday described it as "an exceedingly bloody crime scene" and said the attack was not random.

"Mrs. Robb was the specific target of this assault," Castor said.
Castor refused to call Robb a suspect, but said he had not been excluded either.

Though estranged, the couple lived together in the home with their 12-year-old daughter. Authorities are looking into reports that Ellen Robb had initiated divorce proceedings.

Rafael Robb told investigators that he last saw his wife alive before driving to work last Friday morning. The professor called police that day around 1:45 p.m. to say he found her body when he returned home.

A window in a door had been smashed, but Castor said several pieces of evidence led authorities to believe the scene was staged to look like a burglary. For example, broken glass from the door window had not been crushed underfoot or tracked throughout the house, Castor said.
"That strikes me as very unusual," he said.

Castor also noted Rafael Robb has not reported anything missing from the house.

Investigators have taken forensic evidence from the Robbs' home — including computers and financial records — and searched the couple's cars and the professor's office at Penn, Castor said.

Castor said investigators were interested in talking with members of the public who could discuss the professor's "personality, his habits, the way he interacts with people."

Rafael Robb, who is originally from Israel, earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1981. He has been at Penn for at least four years, according to a resume posted on his university Web site. That site spells his last name "Rob," though his name is spelled "Robb" on other Penn sites.

A Penn spokesman referred calls to police.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,239798,00.html
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:27 PM
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Default Monday, January 08, 2007

Ivy League Professor Charged in Wife's Beating Death




NORRISTOWN, Pa. — A University of Pennsylvania professor was charged Monday with beating his wife to death in their suburban kitchen after she told friends she planned to divorce him.

Rafael Robb, a 56-year-old economics professor and expert in game theory, had told investigators he was in Philadelphia when his wife was killed Dec. 22.

Prosecutors, however, said his alibi didn't hold up.

Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor has said the scene was staged to look like a burglary.

"Dr. Robb lied to the police about an obvious motive for this murder, his knowledge of his wife's recent plans to divorce him and obtain a significant portion of his wealth," according to an affidavit by Upper Merion police Detective David Gershanick.

Robb had said he took the couple's 12-year-old daughter to school that morning and last saw his wife alive before driving to work. He said he returned home later that day and found her body.

Authorities said Ellen Robb's injuries were so extensive they initially thought she was killed with a shotgun blast to the face. The murder weapon has not been found.

Ellen Robb, 49, had told relatives and others that she had hired a divorce attorney and was expecting $4,000 a month in spousal support, prosecutors said in court papers.

Rafael Robb was charged with first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence and lying to authorities.

His lawyer, Francis Genovese, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.

Robb has been at Penn for at least four years, according to a resume posted on his university Web site. Penn officials said earlier that they had arranged for someone else to teach Robb's graduate seminar in game theory this semester.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,242403,00.html
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:42 PM
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Default

Previous news article 1/04/07

DA: Still analyzing Robb murder

COURTHOUSE - Seeking to have as much evidence as possible in place before making an arrest in the brutal murder of Ellen Robb in her Upper Merion home Dec. 23, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. convened a press conference Thursday to "share a couple of things" with the public.

COURTHOUSE - Seeking to have as much evidence as possible in place before making an arrest in the brutal murder of Ellen Robb in her Upper Merion home Dec. 23, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. convened a press conference Thursday to "share a couple of things" with the public.

Most notably, Castor is seeking insight into the personality of the victim's husband, University of Pennsylvania economics professor Rafael Robb.
Dr. Robb called police, not 911, at 1:45 p.m. to report the murder of his wife, but medical evidence shows Ellen Robb was killed earlier that day, perhaps between 8:20 and 10:15 a.m., according to Castor.

Combined with the fact that there was a broken window and a dog inside the home, where the reportedly estranged couple lived with their 12-year-old daughter, Castor is asking for help from anyone in the area who may have heard or seen something out of the ordinary.

The family lived in the generally docile Bob White Farms development in the Wayne section of the township, meaning loud noises or screams or sounds of a struggle would have been noticeable.

"I suspect there is somebody somewhere" with information, said Castor, who added that the victim was killed no later than noon.

Castor was careful to walk the line between adding fuel to the fire and not accusing a Dr. Robb of the crime.

"Obviously, there are things I can't say ... but I can say that I'm pleased with how the investigation is going," said Castor, adding that the investigation "does not (exclude) Robb as the killer."

According to a report by the Associated Press, investigators searched Robb's Penn office.

"It's not unusual in these investigations that they first start off closest to home," Robb's attorney, Francis Genovese, told the AP. "He is hopeful, as am I, that (authorities) are continuing to pursue all leads and not just focusing solely on him."

While neighbors said the couple has not slept in the same room for a period as long as several years, prosecutors have let it be known that Ellen Robb recently saw an attorney in an effort to move forward with a divorce.

That step, which includes financial and custody issues, is often a tipping point in violent domestic crimes.

Castor explained that, in homicides, investigators "develop who might have a motive" and Dr. Robb would fit that theoretical description.

"Mrs. Robb was intending to seek a divorce," said Castor. "That could create - or I guess it could create - a motive for murder."

Castor explained that the Robbs' dog was not the type to attack an intruder but would "make noise." The fact that it didn't make noise, meaning it knew everyone in the house, could also be telling.

"The dog could end up being important to the case," said Castor.

With no arrest, additional intrigue swirls around the case. Questions at the press conference ranged from Dr. Robb being a flight risk because he was born in Israel to possible attempts to apply what is known as the concept of Game Theory.

According to what Castor has been able to glean, Game Theory is an economic philosophy wherein a person can apply factual scenarios for a desired outcome.

"In a criminal context, somebody applying it would calculate all the angles and then go ahead and commit the crime," said Castor. "It could also be a coincidence, too (that Robb taught classes on Game Theory)."

It has been reported that Dr. Robb can prove he was in the city at certain time intervals that would make it difficult for him to commit the crime.

Castor also added, with his patented knowing grin, that investigators may be wise to Robb's whereabouts the day of the killing.

"I know a good deal about that, but I'm not prepared to share it," said Castor.

He also did not seem overly concerned about being outwitted.

"We've done this before," he said. "I've handled a number of circumstantial cases with alibis and partial alibis."

While Castor did not illuminate on Dr. Robb's demeanor during questioning or how he sounded when he made the initial call to police the day of the murder, he hinted that Robb's behavior, perhaps revealed by too much composure for someone who is bereaved, was odd.

"We know, ordinarily, how people react," said Castor. "I'd like to hear from people who know Dr. Robb and, generally, what type of man we're dealing with here."

Dr. Robb is the type of man, according to Castor, whom his daughter does not want to avoid.

Castor said the girl was staying with an uncle but was requesting to be with her father, who moved back into the home shortly after investigators cleared the scene.

Castor did say that a burglary gone bad has been all but ruled out, largely due to the way the glass from a broken window was found.

He also admitted that investigators were initially looking into the angle of a murder-for-hire scheme, as was the case with the Rabbi Fred Neulander murder, but that the investigation has since taken a different course.

"Early on, we considered it," he said. "We do think it's possible but, right now, we are leaning away from it.

"The best way for two people to keep a secret is for one to be dead. Rabbi Neulander is in prison."

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17669013&BRD=1679&PAG=461&dept_id= 86218&rfi=6
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Old 01-08-2007, 02:50 PM
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Default

Previous news article 12/28/2006

Murder victim was bludgeoned

Quote:
UPPER MERION - Ellen Robb, the woman found murdered in her home Friday afternoon, was struck repeatedly by a long, solid, cylindrical-shaped object, according to a statement by the District Attorney's office.
Investigators had not yet recovered a murder weapon at press time, nor the bloody clothing and shoes the murderer may have gotten rid of.

According to the District Attorney's office, the 49-year-old mother of one was found dead in the kitchen by her husband, University of Pennsylvania professor Rafael Robb, when he came home in the afternoon.

Rafael Robb called Upper Merion police at 1:45 p.m., and reportedly last saw his wife when he left for work that morning.

The Robbs lived at 670 Forest Road. Ellen was a stay-at-home mom, while Rafael is an economics professor at UPenn.

Rafael Robb has been questioned but is not in custody, according to reports.

According to forensic pathologist Dr. Ian Hood, the autopsy showed that Robb had "defensive wounds" and tried to "fight her attacker." The cause of death was "multiple blunt-force trauma."

The couple has a 12-year-old daughter. Neighbors said that although the Robbs shared a home, they were estranged.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Upper Merion Police or Montgomery County detectives at 610-265-3232 or 610-278-3368, respectively.

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17642172&BRD=1679&PAG=461&dept_id= 86218&rfi=6
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Old 01-09-2007, 12:41 PM
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Default The Times Herald

Robb Charged In Wife's Murder
By MARGARET GIBBONS
01/09/2007

COURTHOUSE - The game may be over for University of Pennsylvania economics professor Rafael Robb, whose expertise includes game theory and strategic thinking.

Authorities Monday arrested Robb, 56, of the 600 block of Forest Road, Upper Merion, accusing him of the brutal bludgeoning death of his estranged wife, Ellen, at the couple's home on Dec. 22.

Robb, an Israeli native who immigrated to the United States some 35 years ago, is charged with first- and third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime.

Arraigned before District Justice William Maruszczak, Robb was held without bail and transported to the county prison.

While emphasizing that Robb is presumed innocent, Castor said Robb, even with his academic expertise, would still be "an amateur" when it comes to leading a murder investigation astray.

"We do this all the time and it was not that difficult to unravel the problem," said Castor. "The efforts to throw police off were amateurish."

He cited efforts such as the breaking of a glass window on a rear door to make it appear as if Mrs. Robb was killed during a burglary.

Authorities almost immediately abandoned this line of investigation because, among other things, the glass was not stepped on nor tracked through the home.

When he announced last week that he considered Robb the lone suspect in the case, Castor said he was waiting for additional pieces in the basically circumstantial case to be put in place before making an arrest.

One of "pieces" was provided by friend of Ellen Robb, a 49-year-old homemaker, said Castor.

The woman said she contacted Mrs. Robb last Oct. 27 to invite her to a party, according to the criminal complaint. Mrs. Robb told the friend she could not attend because she had a black eye, caused when her husband hit her and added that her husband treated her terribly, the complaint said.

Another friend of Ellen Robb's told authorities that, in the winter of 2006, she told him she was having marital problems and wanted to get a divorce.

This friend told authorities Mrs. Robb told him that, if anything ever happened to her, her husband should be considered a prime suspect, the criminal complaint said.

"This information shows that there may have been a violent undertone to this relationship," said Castor.

The couple was living under the same roof in the Bob White Farms development with their 12-year-old daughter and Copper, the family dog, but had not shared the same bedroom for a number of years.

Mrs. Robb in October 2006 had renewed efforts to obtain a divorce and had hoped to begin living last weekend in an Upper Merion townhouse with her daughter, according to authorities.

The lawyer advised authorities he had told Mrs. Robb that, depending on the nature of her custody of the daughter, she could expect to receive about $4,000 a month from her already-once-divorced husband or between $400,000 to $600,000 over the next 10 to 15 years, according to the complaint.

"The motive for this killing, we believe, is financially motivated and the man's relationship with his child," said Castor.

The "overkill," referring to the bludgeoning of Mrs. Robb's head and face to the point where authorities initially believed she had been shot in the face with a shotgun, would support this motive, according to Castor.

A psychologist and a psychiatrist have advised him that "this brutal attack and the de-personalizing of the victim fit in with the theory that this attack was designed to punish someone who was threatening him," according to Castor.

Another so-called puzzle piece involved an undercover operation by the district attorney's office.

Authorities used an undercover detective to pose as an assistant to the glazier Robb contacted to replace the broken glass on the rear door.

During a conversation with Robb at the house, the "assistant" told Robb police would find it suspicious if nothing was reported stolen from the home as Robb initially had told police, the complaint said.

When the "assistant" returned about a week later with the glazier, Robb told him that he had taken the assistant's suggestion and had compiled a list of missing valuables that he gave his lawyer to give police, according to the complaint.

"Clearly, we believe there was no burglary and this shows his consciousness of guilt, endeavoring to cover up for the burglary," said Castor.

Another piece of the puzzle involves Robb's use of the 10-digit number for the police department to report finding his wife's lifeless body on the kitchen floor where she had been wrapping Christmas gifts when, last summer, he called 911 to report he had a nose bleed and wanted an ambulance.
Authorities speculate Robb used the non-emergency line to report his wife's death under the mistaken impression that the call would not be taped.

Castor, who intends to prosecute the case himself along with Assistant District Attorney Robert J. Sander, said that it is unlikely he will seek the death penalty if Robb is convicted of first-degree murder.

"Unfortunately, brutality is not one of the factors when considering the death penalty," said Castor, adding that Sander is still researching this issue.

If the death penalty is not pursued, Robb would receive a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree murder.

While surprised that the arrest has come so early, defense attorney Frank Genovese said his client has expected to be arrested since Castor named him the lone suspect in the case.

Robb's primary concern has been to make sure his daughter is cared for when he was arrested, said Genovese.

The girl, who was initially staying with her uncle and other family members at a hotel immediately following her mother's murder, has since returned to the home to live with her father, said Genovese, who described the child as "resilient."


http://www.timesherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17685845&BRD=1672&PAG=461&dept_id= 33380&rfi=6#
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