Colleen Ritzer, an inspiring and popular teacher at Danvers High School in Massachusetts, was allegedly murdered by a 14-year-old student who killed stabbed her to death in the school and then dragged her body into the woods.
Philip Chism, a mild-mannered JV soccer player who reportedly went to the movies after the slaying, is charged with first-degree murder.
Here’s what we know about Ritzer and this tragic story.
1. Cops Found Blood in a School Bathroom & Ritzer’s Body in the Woods
According to a press conference held Wednesday morning by Essex County District Attorney Jon Blodgett, Ritzer’s body was found in the woods near the school. Cops were alerted to her disappearance when she didn’t return home from work on Tuesday night. They found blood in a second-floor bathroom at Danvers High and then searched near the campus.
Here’s a transcript of Blodgett’s prepared statement, via CBS Boston reporter Bree Sison:
2. A ‘Missing’ Student Was Found & Charged With Murder
At a 1 p.m. arraignment today, 14-year-old Philip Chism was named as the suspect and brought into court. He was charged with first-degree murder and held without bail.
Through surveillance footage and statements from Chism, police determined that the 6-foot-2 teen assaulted the teacher in the school, sliced her with a knife he stole from he art department, transported her lifeless body through the halls in a recycling bin and dragged it out to the nearby woods.
Students say he hid in the school after class and attacked the young teacher, who may have been staying late to grade tests.
The Boston Globe reports:
Several of Chism’s soccer teammates said he mysteriously vanished Tuesday afternoon, missing the team practice at 4 p.m. and a team dinner at 6. Teammates last saw the youth running away from the practice field, breathlessly telling them he had something he needed to take care of.
According to WCBB, Chism went to see a movie — Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine — after the murder.
Here’s the full criminal complaint:
Chism had been reported missing on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. local time but was “located safely,” according to local police tweets.
— Danvers Police Dept (@DanversPolice) October 23, 2013
Philip chism has been found safely.
— Danvers Police Dept (@DanversPolice) October 23, 2013
When announcing Ritzer’s murder, the district attorney initially withheld the name of “a juvenile” mentioned in connection with the case. This “juvenile” was found “walking north in the southbound lane of Route 1,” according to the press conference.
Chism was positively ID’d as the suspect later today when he appeared in court. Prosecutors are charging Chism as an adult, pending a mental competency hearing. Chism will next appear in court for a probable cause hearing on November 22.
Read more about Chism here:
3. Ritzer Was a Young, Fun-Loving Math Teacher Who Was Active on Social Media
Ritzer, 24, had this Twitter account, which she maintained in her teacher persona and used to playfully profess her love of math:
Yay math! pic.twitter.com/2FOBcE5hWH
— Colleen Ritzer (@msritzermath) October 17, 2013
She also maintained a website for her students:
Ritzer had a Facebook page full of inspirational quotes and a tribute to Boston Strong as her cover photo.
And here’s her elaborate Pinterest page, which is full of math humor:
One heartbreaking detail of Ritzer’s Pinterest page is a board titled “Bucket List.” On this board she includes “having a daughter and naming her after her grandmother,” “visiting the Santa Monica Pier,” and “being his bride.”
Ritzer also had a blog where she wrote about missing her late grandmother and being a teacher:
4. She Was a Massachusetts Native Who Always Dreamed of Being a Math Teacher
Her uncle holds photo of murdered teacher Colleen Ritzer pic.twitter.com/y7Y6zGDaxE
— Pam Cross (@PamWCVB) October 23, 2013
Details are emerging about Ritzer’s family and background, many coming from NECN reporter Jackie Bruno.
Ritzer grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, the oldest of three children, and graduated from Andover High.
In 2011, she graduated magna cum laude from Assumption College, where she majored in math and minored in psychology with a concentration in secondary education.
She always dreamed of being a math teacher.
Her family released this statement:
At this time, we are mourning the tragic death of our amazing, beautiful daughter and sister. Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students. We would like to ask everyone to respect our privacy at this most difficult time. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
Colleen Ritzer's uncle: she was a beautiful person, loving teacher. Neighbor: she & family are close, kind, & fun pic.twitter.com/BUsz92XwF3
— Jackie Bruno (@JackieBrunoNECN) October 23, 2013
5. The Red Sox Honored Ritzer at the World Series Tonight
The World Series began tonight at Fenway Park in Boston — just 25 miles from Danvers.
Students of Ritzer’s were active on Twitter after the news of her death, campaigning for her to be honored at the game. These two tweets were retweeted like wildfire:
— Mike Maijenski™ (@mmaijenski_10) October 23, 2013
— Kieran Moriaty (@gmoriarty34) October 23, 2013
It was soon announced that the Red Sox would indeed hold a moment of silence for the beloved educator:
Fenway Park to hold moment of silence before tonight’s World Series game in honor of murdered Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) October 23, 2013
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