Greist speaks out at hearing
Chester Daily Local Online - Chester,PA,USA
... Wednesday he tried again before Common Pleas Court Judge Edward Griffith. ... Since the slayings, Greist has become a Jehovah's Witness. ...
See all stories on this topic
WEST CHESTER -- Richard L. Greist ended decades of silence Wednesday when the institutionalized killer took the witness stand during his annual recommitment hearing.
The former East Coventry resident found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity lamented killing his wife and unborn son in 1978, quoted verses from the Bible and apologized to his two daughters.
But his daughters' own testimony overshadowed Greist's -- recounting in explicit detail their father's rampage that nearly killed them.
"My sister and I love him very much, and we forgive him," said Elizabeth Ann Butts, 32, Greist's older daughter. But they asked the court not to release Greist, "not now or ever."
Angela Dykie, 31, the killer's other daughter, agreed her father should remain committed to a mental hospital for the rest of his life.
Dykie described Greist's "searing slaps" and the "screams of terror" as he beat and stabbed the members of his family.
"He had fiery orange and green swirling eyes," Dykie testified. "They were empty and the most evil thing I've ever seen."
Greist, now 53, stabbed his wife, Janice, to death and mutilated their 8-month-old unborn fetus -- which he said he has named Christopher -- in the family's home on May 10, 1978.
He also attacked Butts, who was 6 at the time, Dykie, who was 5, and the girls' 71-year-old great-grandmother, Anna Gresko.
Two years later at trial, Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas A. Pitt Jr. ruled Greist not guilty by reason of insanity.
He was committed to Norristown State Hospital, where he remains today.
By law, Greist is entitled to a recommitment hearing every year. For years, Greist has attempted at these hearings to gain his release from the mental hospital.
Wednesday he tried again before Common Pleas Court Judge Edward Griffith. The judge will make a ruling at a later date.
Greist and his attorney, Marita M. Hutchinson, seek to have Greist moved from Norristown State Hospital to a less restrictive facility known as community residential rehabilitation.
"I wish from my very soul that I could take back the time in the 1970s," Greist said, "and have my wife Janice and my children back."
The killer claimed he is "well and I have been for a long time." He apologized for the "pain! " he caused Butts and Dykie, and recalled the "sweet smell of their hair after shampooing it."
"I only have a few photos of my daughters," Greist said. "They are among my most precious possessions."
He also testified remorsefully about not being able to teach Christopher how to "sail my yacht, like I had taught the girls."
Dr. Sudhir Stokes, the psychiatrist in charge of Greist's treatment at Norristown, has treated Greist for three years and supported the patient's appeal for more freedom.
"All people, including Mr. Greist, have to be given the chance to move to the next level," Stokes said.
Greist's privileges at the hospital have progressed to the point where he is now allowed to roam freely on the hospital's 40-acre compound.
Since the slayings, Greist has become a Jehovah's Witness. He is allowed to leave the hospital for three hours every week to attend services in West Norristown.
The man also is granted one 12-hour leave every three months, which he has used to go shopping at the King of Prussia Mall, and he often travels alone using public transportation to visit physicians located off the hospital property.
Greist holds a job at the hospital as manager of the facility's cafeteria, and on Nov. 29, he married his third wife, Frances Greist, a New Zealand woman he met on the Internet through a Jehovah's Witness Web site.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Hobart argued against any change to Greists commitment status.
Hobart called upon Dr. Barbara E. Ziv, a forensic psychiatrist, and psychologist Steven E. Samuel, to testify the man still posed a risk to the community.
"Richard Greist has talked in very concerning ways about all the women in his life," Ziv said. She concluded he has demonstrated a "high degree of misogyny and anti-female resentment."
Samuel examined Greist twice! during January.
"He has not developed any insight into the basis of what happened in 1978," Samuel said. "I think he is bothered by intense emotional feelings, he is frightened by them in a way. He consciously covers over his problems to minimize his weaknesses."