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14-Year-Old Danvers Student Charged In Teacher’s Murder

DANVERS, Mass. — A 14-year-old Danvers High School student has been charged with killing a teacher found slain in the woods behind the school.

A boy identified by authorities as Philip Chism was ordered held without bail on a murder charge at his arraignment Wednesday in adult court in Salem.

Colleen Ritzer (Facebook)

Colleen Ritzer (Facebook)

Chism’s defense attorney had argued for the proceedings to be closed and her client to be allowed to stay hidden, because of his age. The judge denied the request.

Earlier Wednesday, authorities identified the victim as Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover. She taught math at Danvers High School.

Police started investigating after Ritzer was reported missing late Tuesday night because she had not returned home from work and was not answering her cellphone. Investigators found blood in a second-floor school bathroom and soon located her body, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.

He did not say how Ritzer died.

“She was a very, very respected, loved teacher,” Blodgett said, calling the killing a “terrible tragedy.”

Chism had also been reported missing late Tuesday. He was spotted walking along a road in neighboring Topsfield at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Students on Wednesday described Ritzer as a well-liked teacher.

“Just seeing her go like this is a complete shock,” said Chris Weimert, 17, who took two of Ritzer’s classes. “It’s just not really fair. She was one of the nicest ladies you could ever meet.”

Ritzer had a Twitter account where she gave homework assignments, encouraged students and described herself as a “math teacher often too excited about the topics I’m teaching.”

“She was just always happy, always energetic,” another student of Ritzer’s, Ryan Kelleher, 17 said of her. ”She’d just be excited to teach and get into school and be with her students.”

All public schools in Danvers were closed Wednesday. Students at the high school said they planned to hold a vigil there for Ritzer Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Chism is due back in court Nov. 22.

Ritzer is the second teacher allegedly killed by a student in the U.S. this week. A Sparks, Nev., middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student on Monday.

With reporting by the Associated Press and WBUR’s Asma Khalid

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  • fun bobby

    what can we ban to prevent this?

  • fun bobby

    another unarmed teacher slain. how many times do we let this happen?

    • Michelle B

      Yes. Another young man taught that women are objects and violence solves problems. Whatever shall we do.

      • peter buongiorno

        Whoooa. Not every female homocide is the result of our societies objectification of women. And it kinda seems like, because you commented on fun Bobby’s response, you’re saying teachers are only women. Which kinda makes your argument fundamentally confused. Also teacher slain in nv. was a dude…just sayin.

      • fun bobby

        is that what happened here? why was this woman disempowered in the first place?

  • Geheran105

    Not to worry. The Rev Al is on his way to insure that justice is served.

  • X-Ray

    Why can’t the mode of her death be released? One unconfirmed report said she was stabbed.

    • Joemash

      X-Ray…on TV news last nite, during an interview with a female student, I’m assuming for I watched with a glance, while listening, while reading news on the WEB, and I heard the young women mentioned ‘a knife’. I didn’t get the entire context but seemed to me she saw him with a knife. Not sure on campus or where. THAT got my attention…I looked AT the TV and poof the interview was gone. No followup to that ‘mention’. AND I never will understand, unless the ‘person’ with the microphone doing the interview is a robot or brain washed, WHY with this possible revelation no question about it!? After verifying what U think U just heard, ask: Do the police know about this? Did you tell them you saw him with a knife earlier that day? Also, how is it he seemingly didn’t have visible blood on him if she was stabbed and then ‘carried’ her to the woods? Did they both walk to the woods, I don’t know. He went to the movies and was seen there evidently by the manager? At first, and it still may be true, but having my doubts that he was on psychotropic drug or two. But as others have said, SOMETHING is seemingly making these killings by youngsters happen more than any other time in our History. Anyway, as U can guess, I’m trying to seek an answer, place the ‘blame’ on something for something so illogical. There’s just too many and its making me sad and ‘sick to my stomach’. But in the end, I’m only left with a stanza from South Pacific ‘Some Enchanting Evening’: Who can explain it. Who can tell you why. Fools will give you reasons, Wise Men never try.”

      • fun bobby

        if there are psychotropic drugs involved we can count on the media to not report it

    • fun bobby

      box cutter

  • macd

    Just because we are told and shown something on TV does not make it true! Something is fishy here, and in other recent events as well. Trust your disbelief, your questions, and your confusion.

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