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http://www.pottstownmercury.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=13484493&BRD=1674&PAG=461&dept_id=18041&rfi=6

 

Wedding bells ring again for wife killer

 

by Carl Hessler Jr., chessler@pottsmerc.com

12/03/2004

 

 

NORRISTOWN -- Institutionalized wife killer Richard L. Greist Jr. tied the knot again this week.

 

Greist's third attempt at wedded bliss comes 26 years after he brutally stabbed his first wife to death and 13 years after his second wife committed suicide.

 

Montgomery County Court records obtained by The Mercury show Greist, now 53 and a resident of Norristown State Hospital, married 46-year-old Norristown resident Frances Mary More on Nov. 29. District Justice Francis Lawrence Jr. presided over the marriage ceremony at his Norristown office, according to Orphans Court records.

 

"They wrote their own vows. They exchanged their rings. It was literally three minutes long," said Lawrence, describing the simple ceremony. "It was a standard civil ceremony."

 

About seven people accompanied Greist and More to the ceremony.

 

Hospital officials referred all questions regarding the marriage to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, which operates the hospital.

 

Stacey Ward, a spokesperson for the state agency, confirmed that Greist got married. However, Ward said patient confidentiality regulations prohibited her from discussing the matter in more detail.

 

An attempt to reach Greist through state officials was unsuccessful. More, who according to court documents was born in New Zealand, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

 

Greist's lawyer, Marita Malloy Hutchinson of West Chester, did not return a phone call for comment about her clients nuptials.

 

Chester County Assistant District Attorney Peter Hobart, who currently represents the state during required annual court hearings to monitor Greists mental health treatment and progress, said he was not aware of the marriage. Greist was not required to report the marriage to prosecutors.

 

Hobart added that a psychiatrist, Dr. Barbara Ziv, has been hired by prosecutors to re-evaluate Greist prior to his next scheduled annual hearing on Jan. 25.

 

"I'm sure she'll take any relevant life changes and the marriage into consideration at that time," said Hobart, referring to Ziv. In court documents, Greist listed his occupation as a cashier. More listed her occupation as a tutor and indicated she lived on East Poplar Street in Norristown.

 

On May 10, 1978, Greist, then 27, went berserk and fatally stabbed his pregnant wife, Janice, cutting an 8-month-old male fetus from her body inside their Sanatoga Road home in East Coventry. During the 2 p.m. rampage, Greist also attacked his 6-year-old daughter, Beth Ann, who lost an eye during the savage attack, and beat his 71-year-old grandmother, Anna Gresko.

 

Greist was found not guilty by reason of insanity of the strangulation and stabbing of his wife after a trial in Chester County Court on Aug. 1, 1980. A psychiatrist testified at the trial that Greist believed he was the incarnation of Jesus Christ and thought he was killing devils when he attacked his family. The psychiatrist testified Greist believed all women had the devil in them and that he believed he could kill the devil in his wife, then resurrect her.

 

The verdict means Greist will never face a prison sentence for the crime. He was committed to the state hospital for treatment until doctors determine he is sane and no longer a threat to society or to himself. During the last two decades, Greist has made no attempt to hide the fact he has had girlfriends during his stay at the hospital. In May 1990, Greist, after being institutionalized for 12 years, married Patricia Louise Griffin, 38, a former psychiatric nurse at the hospital, during a private ceremony on the grounds of the hospital. During an interview at the time of the nuptials, Griffin said she was not bothered by her husband's past and said she was looking forward to a good marriage.

 

Patricia Greist told court officials she felt comfortable with her husband and described him as a stabilizing influence on her life.

 

However, on May 31, 1991, Patricia Greist, a year into the couple's marriage, was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in her Norristown home, various pills surrounding her body. Authorities said she left several suicide notes that were generally supportive of her husband.

 

Each year since 1981, Greist has asked for freedom and more privileges during annual competency hearings at which a Chester County judge must review Greist's progress.

 

During the most recent hearing in March, former county Judge Juan R. Sanchez, now on the federal bench, ordered that Greist remain at the hospital, denying doctors requests that Greist be transferred to a less restrictive community residential rehabilitation center.

 

Under court orders, Greist is permitted to attend services every Sunday at a Norristown area Jehovahs Witnesses church. He is also allowed to attend "planned outings" four times a year if it is approved by the hospital and written plans are submitted to the district attorney's office and local police departments.

 

Greist is forbidden from staying away from the hospital overnight.

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