A fourteen year old was charged today with the murder of 2nd year math teacher Colleen Ritzer. Ritzer’s body was found in the woods near the Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts, and police quickly ruled the death an obvious homicide.
Both the accused and the victim were reported missing on the same day. Fourteen year old Philip Chism was later found walking alone along a main highway in a nearby town, taken into custody, and charged with murder. Police had begun their investigation on the basis of information found at the school, including blood stains near one of the school’s second floor bathrooms and on surveillance footage taken from the school’s video system.
Information that came out in police questioning of Chism led to his arrest.
The criminal complaint states that investigators found evidence corroborating Philip Chism’s statement at various locations. Any defense motions or court proceedings will likely be aimed at mitigating legal consequences for the defendant.
Chism pleaded innocent today at his court arraignment on adult murder charges. With a comforting hand on her client’s shoulder, Chism’s defense attorney, Denise Regan, waived right to bail on the condition it would be “without prejudice,” a request the court denied.
Chism was denied bail “with prejudice” in the “assault and beating” of 24 year old Colleen Ritzer, according to a video of the arraignment proceedings in the LA Times.
Amidst the tragedy of a young and impassioned math teacher’s death, a courtroom drama will play out to determine whether the filing of adult murder charges will stand against Chism. Regan has filed a motion to have her client evaluated by psychiatric services. She tried to have courtroom proceedings outside of public view, customary in juvenile cases.
Police have released only general details about the arrest of Philip Chism for the murder, but one of Chism’s classmates said she attended the same last period class with him. Ritzer was the teacher for that class, and speculated that Chism may have stayed behind when class dismissed.
According to CBS News, the accused teenager had lived in Massachusetts for a relatively short period of time, transferring to the Danvers High School just prior to the start of the school year. Colleen Ritzer’s message of promise and enthusias was evident on her Twitter account where she posted assignments and short messages of humor and encouragement.
“Freshmen: Wear comfortable clothes tomorrow! (and shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty!) Sophs/Juniors: PSATs tomorrow :) #funforall”