October 25, 2013

Classmate: Accused Mass. teacher slayer stayed after school

Authorities have not said whether Colleen Ritzer had any previous run-ins with Philip Chism, the student who is charged with murder.

By Jay Lindsay
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer is shown in this undated photo provided by her family.

The Associated Press / Courtesy of Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

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Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Salem, Mass., on Wednesday. Chism has been ordered held without bail.

The Associated Press

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Students also were puzzled. Chism's teammates on the soccer team have said he was soft-spoken and nonviolent.

Rhaddaoui said Chism was quiet, and she never saw him raise his hand in math class. She said they were also in the same history class, where he told classmates he spoke three languages: English, Portuguese and Japanese.

Mark Nolan, of Clarksville, Tenn., who coached Chism in a local youth soccer program for several years when Chism was 9 or 10, said there was nothing unusual about him.

"He didn't stand out; he wasn't a troublemaker," Nolan said. "He had no problem with other kids. He wasn't overly aggressive."

Nolan recalled that Chism's father was in the military and his mother was a social worker. Both parents attended their son's soccer matches, Nolan said.

Caio Silva, a Danvers High School senior and varsity soccer player, said he knew both Chism and Ritzer. He said he and his teammates are helping each other.

"A lot of the guys are really shocked, a lot of guys are down, really upset," he said.

"It's just really sad," he said. "A lady that was really sweet and a kid who was really sweet. It just doesn't really match up. It's really sad."

The manager of Hollywood Hits Theatres in Danvers said Chism went to the theater late Tuesday afternoon and bought a ticket to see Woody Allen's new movie, "Blue Jasmine."

Scott Przybycien said police came to the theater Tuesday night and said they had information that Chism had been at the theater. Przybycien said the theater's surveillance video showed Chism entering the theater at about 4:15 p.m., paying $8.00 in cash for a movie ticket, then leaving the building at about 6:15 p.m., after the movie ended. Authorities believe Ritzer was killed after school ended at about 2 p.m., but they have not released a specific time.

"He didn't stand out in any way," Przybycien said. "There was no reason for any business to be concerned. He looked like a normal, everyday customer coming in to watch a movie."

Ritzer was described as an enthusiastic, caring teacher who stood outside her classroom and said hello to all students, whether they were in her classes or not.

"She was very approachable," Rhaddaoui said. "She was always smiling. She always made the best of every situation."

Ritzer's family released a statement Thursday, asking the media to respect their privacy as they make arrangements "to celebrate Colleen's vibrant life."

Chism appeared briefly in court Wednesday for arraignment on a murder charge and was ordered held without bail.

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

 

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Additional Photos

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Parents and Danvers High School students hold candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer’s body was found in woods behind the school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her.

AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye

click image to enlarge

Danvers High School students hold a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at the school, on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer’s body was found in woods behind the school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight, was charged with killing her.

AP Photo/Bizuayehu Tesfaye

click image to enlarge

Candles and teddy bears are placed at Danvers High School prior to a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School on Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013, in Danvers, Mass. Ritzer was found slain in woods behind the high school, and Danvers High School student Philip Chism, 14, who was found walking along a state highway overnight was charged with killing her.

AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye



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