The 14-year-old suspected of stabbing a math teacher to death at his Massachusetts high school has been charged as an adult with murder after police say video surveillance footage shows the teenager attacking the young teacher and dumping her body in the woods behind the school.
- (Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Philip D. Chism made his first court appearance Wednesday, where he was charged with the murder of Colleen Ritzer, a popular 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School who was reported missing Tuesday evening when she didn't return home from work. After subsequent searching Tuesday night, police discovered Ritzer's blood in the high school's second floor bathroom and later found Ritzer's body dumped in the woods behind the high school. Chism is being held with bail.
Police said in the complaint issued to the court Wednesday that after observing surveillance footage from the school and interviewing Chism, they surmised the teen had attacked Ritzer with a knife and then discarded her body in the woods with the help of what appears to be a large recycle bin.
The police complaint said authorities "learned from an interview of the juvenile suspect and video surveillance recovered at the school" that the suspect had dumped the teacher's body in the woods.
"Based on his statements and the corroborating evidence found at multiple scenes at the Danvers High School and surrounding wooded area, [he] was subsequently placed into custody and booked for murder," the complaint adds. Danvers High School reportedly has state-of-the-art buildings that include several security cameras.
Chism was also reported missing Tuesday evening, and was found late in the night walking along the side of a highway in a neighboring town. The teenager recently moved to Danvers from Tennessee and played on the school's junior varsity soccer squad. Teammates described the suspect as quiet but nice and having friends on his sports team.
Residents in the Danvers community, located about a half-hour north of Boston, are now mourning the loss of an admired young educator. "She was a very respected, loved teacher," said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett. "At 24 years of age it's a terrible tragedy for the entire Danvers community."
Chism's probable cause hearing is scheduled for Nov. 22.