The family of Ellen Gregory Robb says it will continue seeking justice for her

By KC Baker
January 09, 2017 03:49 PM
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Professors Wife Slain
Credit: Matt Rourke/AP

A former Ivy League professor who admitted to killing his wife in 2006 while she wrapped Christmas presents was released from prison Sunday, PEOPLE confirms.

Rafael Robb, 66, an economist who taught at the University of Pennsylvania, served 10 years in a state prison for fatally bludgeoning his wife, Ellen Gregory Robb, 49.

The beating death, in the kitchen of the couple’s suburban Philadelphia home, came after Ellen contacted a lawyer and threatened to divorce him, according to court records obtained by PEOPLE.

Ellen was beaten so badly with a metal exercise bar that police thought she had been shot in the face with a high-powered rifle, the court records state.

Robb was charged with first-degree murder, but as part of a plea agreement, pleaded guilty in 2007 to voluntary manslaughter, telling the judge at the time that he “lost it” the night of the killing, according to

He was sentenced to five to ten years in prison and was denied parole in 2013, serving the maximum sentence of ten years.

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On Sunday, Robb was released from the State Correctional Institution at Albion, Pennsylvania, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton confirmed to PEOPLE.

Civil Damages Owed to Daughter

Ellen’s family is upset about Robb’s release. At a Monday morning press conference in front of the King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, home where she was bludgeoned to death, Gary Gregory, her brother, said, “He can’t simply go back into society unfettered while the memory of my sister fades into the distance,” according to

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In a 2014 civil suit, a jury ordered Robb to pay $124 million in punitive and compensatory damages to his daughter, Olivia Robb, who was 12 when he mother was killed, according to court records.

Gregory said he will work to ensure Olivia Robb gets the money she has been awarded, especially since he believes Robb has at least $3 million in retirement finds, according to

“This guy killed Ellen to protect his assets,” Gregory told The Associated Press on Friday. “He has repeatedly shown a lack of remorse.”

After his sister’s murder, Gregory started Every Great Reason, a foundation that raises awareness and funds for victims of domestic violence.

Gregory said that the message of the family’s continued advocacy “is that Robb’s release is not the last chapter in this American tragedy.”

“We really can’t change anything this week,” Gregory said Saturday, according to “He’s out. But what we can continue to do is focus on our fight and turning our tragedy into a triumph for others.”