Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Public safety

St. Petersburg police: Man calls 911 to say he strangled his girlfriend

ST. PETERSBURG — Scott Greenberg told police he and his girlfriend had incorporated choking into their bedroom play before. But on Tuesday, police said, it went too far.

Authorities rushed to the couple's room at the Kenwood Inn Hotel on 34th Street N after getting a 911 call from Greenberg. The 27-year-old told dispatchers he strangled his girlfriend, Jennifer Zale, 26, and that she was dead.

Greenberg said it happened during a sexual encounter, police spokesman Mike Puetz said.

"He's claiming they engaged in this process before," Puetz said. "Next thing he knows, she's apparently dead."

Police arrested Greenberg on a manslaughter charge and he was booked into the Pinellas County Jail. He was being held there Tuesday night without bail.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office is performing an autopsy.

"Obviously we're still investigating," he said. "Greenberg insisted that he had no intention of killing Zale and that act was strictly consensual."

Puetz said detectives didn't find any obvious signs of violence to the young woman's body after they were called to the hotel at 451 34th St. N around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday.

They believe Zale had been dead for at least eight hours by then. Puetz said Greenberg claimed to have been in "trance" when he realized Zale was dead and unsure of what to do.

He called a few people, Puetz said, and someone persuaded him to call authorities.

The couple had been living in Room No. 114 for the past two weeks, Puetz said, but it was unclear how long they had been dating.

Records show Greenberg, who has an extensive criminal record, was released from prison in May. Zale did not have a criminal record.

Her family could not be reached for comment.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

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