Thursday, October 24, 2013
ABC News is reporting this morning on Good morning America that police say Chism stabbed Colleen Ritzer to death in the faculty bathroom at Danvers High School around 3:30 pm on Tuesday. Based on a review of videotape and Chism’s confession, police have determined that he transported her body in what appeared to be a recycling bin into the woods behind the school.
After dumping her body in the woods, Chism went to a movie theater and watched Woody Allen’s new film, Blue Jasmine. I have no idea why he selected this film or if he knew what it was about when he chose it. Seems an extremely odd choice for a 14-year-old boy who just stabbed his teacher to death.
His family reported him missing at 5:30 pm. Ritzer was reported missing a few hours later.
Police went to the school to check on her late Tuesday evening and found the bloody crime scene in the faculty bathroom.
Police subsequently responded to a report of a pedestrian walking northbound in the southbound lane of Route 1 around 12:30 am Wednesday morning. The pedestrian turned out to be Chism. He was placed under arrest and transported to the Danvers Police Station where he confessed to the murder.
Chism’s uncle, who resides in Clarksville, Tennessee, describes Chism as a nice kid from a perfect family.
Danvers is located approximately 20 miles north of Boston.
Contrary to reports yesterday, Chism was not arraigned. He had an initial appearance at which the judge found probable cause to support the charge based on a review of the charge and supporting documents. He also denied bail. The next court appearance will be a preliminary hearing, which is scheduled for November 22nd.
The purpose of the preliminary hearing will be to determine whether probable cause exists to support the murder charge based on live witness testimony, as opposed to the more limited document review yesterday. The defense will be accorded an opportunity to cross examine witnesses called by the prosecution.
Given the confession, there is no reason to suppose that the court might not find probable cause.
Chism probably provided police with an explanation regarding why he killed Colleen Ritzer. If he did, they are not disclosing what he said. That is pretty much standard operating procedure at this point. For example, they likely would want to wait until the autopsy and forensic testing have been completed to determine whether the evidence supports or conflicts with his statement.
I suspect they are waiting to see if sperm is detected on any of the oral, vaginal and anal swabs obtained during the autopsy. If so, the next question will be whether the lab can detect a DNA profile for the male contributor and, if so, whether it matches Philip Chism.
A law enforcement source told NBC News on Friday that Ritzer’s throat was slit from the back with a box-cutter in a second-floor bathroom at the school. Her body was wheeled out of the school in a recycling bin, dumped in the woods and covered with leaves, the source said.
Philip Chism, a freshman, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and has been ordered held without bail. A surveillance camera caught the suspect following Ritzer into the bathroom and then leaving, covered in blood, the source said.
The suspect changed his clothes at some point and went to the movies and to Wendy’s, the law enforcement source said. Investigators found both the suspect’s and Ritzer’s phones smashed, the source told NBC News.
Students said that Ritzer had asked Chism to meet with her after class on the day of the murder. The second-floor bathroom, where blood was found, was to remain closed Friday.
Apparently, Chism sat through the movie, so my theory in the comments that he may have purchased a ticket to the show intending to use the stub as an alibi may be wrong.
He only had 40-45 minutes after the murder to transport her body to the woods, change clothes, and make it to the theater.
I don’t know where he lived and am assuming that he did not go home to change clothes.
The box cutter and a change of clothes nearby suggest that he went to school intending to kill her. Whether or not he did, he apparently had no specific idea about what to do after the movie and his dinner at Wendy’s.