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Teacher in Massachusetts Killed, Her 14-Year-Old Student Held on Murder Charges

Colleen Ritzer Danvers High School
Boston Globe / Twitter

Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher in Danvers, Massachusetts, was found dead in the woods behind the high school where she taught. A sophomore at the school has been arrested and charged with her murder.

Philip Chism
Danvers Police Dept.

All schools in Danvers were closed for the day, after police found 14-year-old Philip Chism (right) walking along a highway near the school. He was booked and is being held without bail. Prosecutors say that Chism stabbed the teacher, Colleen Ritzer, in a second-floor bathroom at the high school then dragged her body outside and hid it in a wooded area nearby.

Police reviewed the school’s surveillance video footage, saying that it apparently showed that Chism “assaulted and subsequently murdered Colleen Ritzer and disposed of her body near the high school grounds.”

Chism, who had recently transferred to Danvers from Tennessee, was a star soccer player, leading the junior varsity team in goals. His teammates described him as a likable kid who loved soccer.

Ritzer was an admired teacher at Danvers High School, receiving praise from fellow teachers and students alike. One of her former geometry students, junior John Tibbetts, told NBC, “There’s all this drama in high school. People are in bad moods sometimes. She always knew how to put us in a better mood.”

Ritzer’s family released a statement to The Salem News, saying, “At this time we are mourning the tragic death of our amazing daughter and sister. Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion, her teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students.”

[Boston Globe, ABC, NBC, Salem News]

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