From the crime scene to the courtroom, Boston Herald reporter Tom Farmer covered every twist and turn in the Halloween murder of Mabel “May” Greineder, a Wellesley mother of three killed by her husband, Dr. Dirk Greineder nearly 13 years ago.
It was a case that captured national attention, with the trial aired on Court TV. From Halloween 1999 right through the end of Greineder’s six-week trial, Farmer dogged the story. Today, Farmer’s first book, “A Murder in Wellesley,” a chilling account of Greineder’s murder and her husband’s conviction, is officially released.
“From the day of the murder on, I worked the story,” says Farmer, 51, a Bradford resident for the past 21 years. “I thought it would make a good book.”
So did State Police Det. Lt. Marty Foley, the lead investigator in the Greineder murder case. He and Farmer spoke little more than pleasantries to each other during the investigation and trial. But after reading Farmer’s accounts of the case in the Boston Herald, Foley later decided to collaborate on the book with Farmer.
“I liked what Tom was writing. He was compassionate toward the family ... He was there everyday. You could tell he had an interest,” Foley says. “He was very accurate and articulate in what he wrote.”
Foley said the book research was intense and thorough. Foley himself is a major character in the book, along with May Greineder’s sister, Ilse Stark, and niece, Belinda Markel, and prosecutor Rick Grundy. Police officers, crime scene investigators, chemists and jurors who decided Greineder’s fate are also quoted.
“We didn’t say anything that wasn’t absolutely positively true,” Foley says.
Dirk Greineder, a renowned Boston allergist, was convicted of savagely murdering his wife as they took a walk that morning on a local trail. The couple, married in 1968, appeared to have a perfect life and wonderful family. But the murder investigation uncovered Dirk’s secret double life that included prostitutes, pornography and internet hook-ups.
Also, questions are posed in the book that only Greineder can answer. And he hasn’t, Farmer notes.
“He’s a classic sociopath,” he says.
Farmer is pleased that those who read early release copies of the book “haven’t been able to put it down.”
Farmer, who now works as a communication specialist for MassHousing, said the book was a decade in the making.
In 2002, he started interviews and writing the book on a computer in his dining room. In 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Greineder’s conviction, giving him and Foley the green light to publish the book.
“We wanted to wait until all the appeals were exhausted,” explains Farmer, a reporter for nine years at the Boston Herald and 10 years prior to that at the Daily Item in Lynn. After leaving the Herald, Farmer also worked as an editor at the Gloucester Daily Times. He grew up in the Peabody and Lynnfield area.
Farmer says the hardest part of compiling the book was deciding what went in and what was left on the cutting room floor. “That was all unchartered territory for me,” he says.
Foley, who retired from the state police in 2007 after 24 years, praised Farmer for his excellence “at bridging all the stories together in the book ... It’s just enough CSI and a camera over the shoulder.”
A portion of the book proceeds will be donated to Jane Doe, a statewide coalition dedicated to preventing sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.
While basking in the excitement of their first release, both Farmer and Foley aren’t ruling out another book in the future.
And to those out there with a book idea of their own, Farmer’s advice is, “Do it.”
“But don’t get frustrated. It’s hard to get an agent or publisher. It took us a couple of years,” Farmer notes.
Farmer is planning a book signing in the Merrimack Valley in near future.
“A Murder in New England” was published by University Press of New England in Lebanon, N.H. For more information on the book, check out amurderinwellesley.com.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.