Sources: Mass. Teen Went to Movies After Allegedly Killing Teacher
(DANVERS, Mass.) — A 14-year-old went to the movies after he allegedly stabbed a well-liked high school math teacher in Massachusetts, according to sources.
The suspect, Philip Chism, was charged as an adult Wednesday and ordered held without bail. He was charged with murdering Colleen Ritzer, 24, who taught math at Danvers High School, where Chism also attended. Chism has pleaded not guilty.
Police discovered Ritzer’s blood in a second-floor bathroom late Tuesday night before her body was found behind the school, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Wednesday. Chism was arrested early Wednesday morning.
In the time between Ritzer’s death and his arrest, Chism had gone to see Woody Allen’s film, Blue Jasmine, sources told ABC News.
Chism recently moved with his family from Tennessee to Danvers and joined the junior varsity soccer team at the school. Chism’s uncle, Terrance Chism Blaine, who lives in Clarksville, Tenn., told ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV his nephew was “such a good kid.”
“[He] might have been upset, you know teenagers go through that. He’s 14, growing up still. That’s the only thing that I can imagine. That’s the only think that I can imagine because I can’t imagine anything else. It’s like a story-book kid. Perfect family,” Blaine said.
Public schools in Danvers were closed on Wednesday. All schools but the high school were set to hold classes on Thursday, while the high school was scheduled to reopen for two hours so students could meet with counselors and grief specialists. All classes were set to resume Friday.
Meanwhile, a prayer vigil was held Wednesday night in Danvers outside the high school as hundreds of students and members of the community remembered Ritzer as a respected, dedicated teacher.
“There’s no words to describe her. She’s such an excellent teacher,” student Spencer Wade, a freshman at Danvers High School, said. “She did so well to explain everything to me. She’d have picture of the day, cute puppies or whatever and fun facts and she was just an excellent teacher. I don’t know why she had to die.”
Many at the vigil wore pink, Ritzer’s favorite color. They prayed, sang and, at the end of the vigil, they placed their candles along with some stuffed animals in the middle of a ring they have formed for the gathering.
“She was just a young, caring girl that had the whole world ahead of her. And to be taken so early is just horrible,” Ritzer’s uncle, Peter Martellucci, said.
Twenty miles south of Danvers, the Boston Red Sox had a moment of silence for Ritzer before Game 1 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Investigators say Chism killed Ritzer around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the school’s faculty bathroom and that surveillance cameras show him using what appears to be a recycling bin to move her body to the woods behind the school.
Chism was reported missing at 5:34 p.m. by a family member, according to the district attorney’s office. A few hours later, Danvers Police received a report that Ritzer, who lived in Andover, had not returned home from work and was not answering her cellphone.
Police then went to the school where they found the grisly crime scene.
At 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, police responded to a report of a pedestrian, who turned out to be Chism, walking north in the southbound lane on Route One. The teen was then transported to the Danvers Police Department.
After reviewing surveillance video at the school and interviewing Chism, police said they learned that the 14-year-old stabbed Ritzer and then dumped her body in the woods behind the campus.
Jennifer Berger told ABC News she and Ritzer were best friends for nearly their entire lives and she was always destined to be a teacher.
“I remember when we were in kindergarten she brought in her little sister for show-and-tell. She always loved working with kids. I think they just gravitated towards here and I think as much as they loved her she loved them a hundred times more,” Berger said.
Ritzer had a Twitter account where she gave homework assignments, encouraged students and described herself as a “math teacher often too excited about the topics I’m teaching.”
“I’d say outside my family she was the closest person to me. I shared everything with her,” Berger added.
Chism will next appear in court on Nov. 22 for a probable cause hearing.
Authorities have not speculated what the motive might have been.
Ritzer 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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