14-year-old Philip Chism is charged with beating his high school math teacher to death EDIT: ABC News is reporting that she was stabbed to death

October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good afternoon:

I have more bad news. Another high school teacher was killed yesterday. Her name is Colleen Ritzer. She was a well-liked and respected math teacher at Danvers High School in Danvers, Massachusetts. She was only 24-years-old.

Unlike Michael Landsberry, a math teacher at Sparks Middle School in Sparks, Nevada who was shot to death two days ago by a student who had arrived at the school a few minutes earlier armed with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun intent on killing other students and anyone who got in his way, Ms. Ritzer appears to have been specifically targeted by 14-year-old Phillip Chism. She was beaten to death after school.

According to CBS News,

Law enforcement officials recovered the remains of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer early Wednesday, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. The teen, Philip Chism, was arraigned Wednesday in Salem on a murder charge and ordered held without bail.

Ritzer was reported missing late Tuesday night after she didn’t come home from work or answer her cellphone. Investigators found blood in a second-floor school bathroom and soon located her body [in the nearby woods], 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.”

The boy also was reported missing Tuesday after not coming home from school. He was spotted walking along a road in neighboring Topsfield at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Investigators said in court documents that the arrest was made based on statements by the suspect and corroborating evidence at multiple scenes. They said they also recovered video surveillance.

Chism was charged with murder and had his initial appearance in adult court this afternoon (see video below). Bail was denied.

According to CBS Crimesider, students do not know much about Philip Chism. He recently moved to Danvers from Tennessee and kept to himself, rarely speaking to anyone unless spoken to. He was a good soccer player who played on the junior varsity soccer team.

Boston.com reports:

According to teammates, Chism is the leading scorer for the school’s junior varsity team as a striker. The teammates said that on Tuesday, Chism failed to make the team practice at 4 p.m. and also missed a regular team dinner that is usually held at 6 p.m. at a teammate’s home.

Four members of the team said in an interview that Chism was amiable, hard-working, pleasant, and had managed to collect some friends around him in his first months in a new school. They described him as about 6 feet tall, with a love of soccer.

Ritzer, a math teacher, was a young woman with a smile who had always wanted to lead a classroom, a long-time neighbor said this morning.

“She was gentle, with a big smile,” said Mary Duffy, who has lived next door to Colleen Ritzer’s family in Andover for more than two decades. “It makes no sense.”

Here’s a youtube clip of his initial appearance.

After he was informed of the charge against him (an assistant district attorney read the charge out loud), the judge appointed counsel to represent him. Realizing the inevitable, his lawyer agreed to the entry of an order denying bail without prejudice, which means she could revisit the issue of bail at a later time. The judge responded predictably. He denied bail with prejudice. There is no way this kid is going to be released on bail.

I’m just sitting here shaking my head, literally speechless at the violent events Monday and Tuesday.

Who would have ever guessed that being a high school math teacher could be a deadly profession.

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