March 22, 2019

The Face of Murder: Slashes Teacher’s Throat

philip_chismThe 14-year-old student who authorities say murdered a beloved math teacher at a Massachusetts high school admitted to police that he slashed her throat with a box cutter, a source told

Philip Chism, the suspect, told police that he followed Colleen Ritzer into the women’s restroom, punched her in the face and slashed her, the source told the station. Chism put the teacher’s body into a recycling bin and dumped it in the woods near the school, the source said.

The Boston Herald reported that Chism went to a movie theater to watch the 4:30 p.m. showing of Woody Allen’s new move, “Blue Jasmine” after he allegedly killed the teacher. The manager from Hollywood Hits theater in Danvers told the paper Chism “blended right in.”

“She’s not a fighter. She probably never saw it coming.” – Joe Spanos

Chism was being held without bail after he was charged by the Essex County district attorney as an adult Wednesday during his arraignment at Salem District Court. He pleaded not guilty. The judge approved a motion by the defense for a mental evaluation.

Colleen_RitzeThe suspect’s mother was at the court hearing, but did not speak to reporters, The Herald reported.

One of Chism’s classmates described him as “antisocial” and someone who appeared “really tired and out of it”, according to the news site Wicked Local Danvers. The classmate said he did not seem like a troubled person.

Another classmate told the website she was in algebra class with Chism and Ritzer Tuesday. She said Chism stayed after school with the teacher.

Details of the murder remain unclear. During Chism’s arraignment, the prosecutor said evidence indicated that Chism “assaulted and subsequently murdered Colleen Ritzer and disposed of her body near the high school grounds.” He was held without bail.

Former students and friends, meanwhile, remembered the math teacher who was known for her enthusiasm for algebra.

Joe Spanos, a former teacher at Andover High School, knew Ritzer for about 10 years. He mentored her, she worked at his convenience store and, at times, babysat his children. Spanos said Ritzer was the kind of woman that you wanted your daughter to emulate.

“She was beautiful on the inside and out,” he told “She’s not a fighter. She probably never saw it coming,” he said.

The Boston Red Sox also held a moment of silence for Ritzer before game one of the 2013 World Series.

Classes were scheduled to resume Thursday for elementary and middle school students. While the high school was closed Thursday, grief counselors were made available to students between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.

Ritzer used her Twitter account to post math questions and assignments for students. On Aug. 11, she posted, “No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind.”

Ritzer is a 2011 graduate of Assumption College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in psychology, with a secondary education concentration, according to Assumption Director of Media Relations Lorraine U. Martinelle. Ritzer graduated magna cum laude.

She is the second teacher allegedly killed by a student in the U.S. this week. A Sparks, Nev., middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student on Monday.

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