On 15 February 2017, 50-year-old Gregory Green pleaded guilty to the callous murder of his two teenage stepchildren, his own two young children aged 4 and 5 years old and the vicious attack on his wife, Faith Harris-Green on 21 September 2016, at their home in Dearborn Heights in Detroit. His assault on his family was described as an “appalling level of domestic violence that was cataclysmic” by prosecutor Kim Worthy with an attack on his wife, a woman he supposedly loved, that involved gagging and torturing her before making her watch as he shot two of her children in front of her.
What makes the case of Gregory Green even more remarkable is this is not the first time he has murdered his family. In 1991, he stabbed his pregnant wife Tonya Clayton Green multiple times, and as with this second attack, he then called 911 to confess what he had done. Convicted of murder in 1992, Green spent 16 years in prison before finally achieving parole in 2008, eight years before he would commit the same crime again.
Convicted murderers being released from prison only to carry out another homicide is rare but it is not unheard of. A study carried out by the Correctional Service of Canada in 2011 examined just over 3,000 males convicted of homicide between 1998 and 2008. They found only 10 were under supervision and had previously been sentenced for another homicide. Although a small sample size, what the study did find were a set of common traits among these offenders. These included a significant history of violence, a juvenile criminal history, a relatively short time scale between release and repeat homicide, a lack of remorse and lack of empathy, repeated parole failure, substance abuse and diagnosed mental health problems.
Furthermore, a similar study carried out in Australia by Criminology professor Roderic Broadhurst of Western Australian males found that during the period 1984 to 2005, almost 20 percent of those who were in prison for a homicide offence and had been released, went on to carry out another seriously violent offence with seven percent of them being rearrested for another murder.
In 1991, Gregory Green had been married to Tonya Clayton Green for two years. She was six months pregnant with their first child and friends reported she was planning on leaving Green citing his change in behaviour as reasons for the relationship no longer being viable. Before she could leave, Green stabbed her 10 times with a steak knife, killing both her and their unborn child. Tonya Green’s two young children were also in the house that day and were unharmed in the attack. He called 911 after the murder to report what he had done, telling officers when they arrived at the home “I stabbed her. She’s in the kitchen.”
When his case came to trial in 1992, he initially pleaded an insanity defense and then no contest to second-degree murder. He was convicted and given a 15-25 year sentence. During his 16 years in prison, he was denied parole four times before being granted release in 2008. The Parole Board felt he “demonstrated little emotion or remorse … (and had) a lack of empathy,” according to a spokesman for the Department of Corrections with his parole report for 2006 reading “He still can’t explain his murderous rage. Oddly, he did not utter a word of empathy or remorse”.
While in prison Green was essentially a perfect prisoner with only one minor fight with another prisoner on his records in the 16 years he was locked up. He did not get involved in any violence within the prison and did not argue with authority. He followed the rules and kept his head down, according to reports in the Washington Post.
Gregory Green’s second wife, 39-year-old Faith Harris-Green, is the daughter of a Pastor who helped him obtain parole from his prison sentence for killing his first wife. They married two years after he was released from prison on 18 December 2010. Chadney Allen Jr, aged 19 and Kara Allen aged 17, were Faith Harris-Green’s children from a previous marriage. Kio Green, age 5, and Kaleigh Green, age 4, were Gregory and Faith’s two children they had together during their six years of marriage before his attack.
Faith Harris-Green had applied for a restraining order against Gregory Green in 2013 which was denied on the grounds of insufficient evidence. In this application she had noted, “We’re filing for divorce. He’s being belligerent (sic), kicking things…Just kicking things threatening me and saying if I don’t leave things are going to get ugly. Jumped at me like he was going to attack. This went on for hours.” She filed for divorce later on that year but the paperwork did not go through. In August 2016 she filed for divorce again. One month later, Green killed her four children and made her watch.
On the night of 21 September 2016, Gregory Green taped a plastic tube to the exhaust of his car and poisoned his two youngest children with carbon monoxide from the exhaust fumes. He then took the children back to the family home and placed them in their beds. He attacked his wife with a knife, slashing her face and throat before shooting her in her foot and leaving her tied to a chair in the basement. Gregory Green gagged his wife, bound her with duct tape and tied her wrists with zip ties before shooting his teenage stepchildren in the basement in front of their mother, making her watch them die before he called police to their home and meeting them on the driveway.
A psychological assessment found Green fit to stand trial and he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, torture and assault with intent to do great bodily harm in February 2017. On 1 March 2017 he was jailed for up to 102 years in a sentencing hearing which heard his now ex-wife Faith Harris-Green tell him:
“Justice will come when you burn in hell for all eternity for murdering four innocent children. You’re a con artist. You’re a monster.”
Gregory Green has made attempts at showing remorse for his shocking behaviour, telling the court, “I feel bad for how this has deeply impacted everyone, and may God help them, help me,” but these are words few people are able to believe from a man who has murdered five individuals, four of them innocent children and brutally attacked his second wife. “Fathers are supposed to protect their children. Husbands are supposed to protect their wives. Your actions are inconceivable.” the judge told him during his sentencing.
In both of his murderous attacks on his families, Gregory Green showed extreme violence and on both occasions he called the police himself to report his actions and confess to murder. Men who murder their wives often do so under the guise of accidents or events they can try to explain away, not clear cut homicides and they do not normally call the police to confess.
Equally in many cases of familicide, where men have murdered both their wife and children, the most common result is suicide after the act. In familicide cases, the feeling of failure as a father, a husband and a provider can be a driving force in the decision to take their lives and they take their own after the murders having that intention all along. In the case of Gregory Green, it appears his violent attacks may have been made in retaliation for being rejected by his wives, with reports of both relationships coming to an end shortly before the murders. His decision to murder his second wife’s two teenage children in front of her shows a twisted desire for revenge wanting to make her suffer as much as possible.
He is a man who has shown his violence and depravity against those he is supposed to love and these are not features within him which prison time is going to rehabilitate. With his current sentence, Gregory Green would be 97 years old before he had any opportunity for release, meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars, exactly where he needs to be. As expressed by his devastated ex-wife, Faith Harris-Green, who now has to try and live with what this man she married and once loved has done, “You’re a devil in disguise. You are now forever exposed.”