November 22, 2013

Massachusetts teacher’s throat was slit, documents say

A note reading ‘I hate you all’ was found with her body; the suspect, 14, is being held without bail.

By Lynne Tuohy
The Associated Press

SALEM, Mass. — The body of a popular Massachusetts teacher who police say was killed by one of her students was found in the woods, naked from the waist down and with her throat slit and a note that read, “I hate you all,” according to court documents released Friday.

click image to enlarge

Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer seen in this undated photo provided by the family of Ritzer. Fourteen-year-old high school student Philip Chism was accused of killing Ritzer, a well-liked math teacher at Danvers High School, in Danvers, Mass., whose body was found in the woods behind the school.

AP Photo/Courtesy of Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

click image to enlarge

In this Oct. 23, 2013, file photo, Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, as his attorney Denise Regan speaks on his behalf in Salem District Court in Salem, Mass. In an indictment returned Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, Chism was charged with sexually assaulting and killing Ritzer, and stealing her credit cards and iPhone.

AP Photo/Boston Herald, Patrick Whittemore, File

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The search warrant application was released after it was requested by The Associated Press, The Boston Globe and other media organizations.

Philip Chism, a 14-year-old soccer player who moved from Clarksville, Tenn., at the beginning of the school year, is charged with murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in the Oct. 22 death of 24-year-old Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer. His attorney, Denise Regan, said Friday she had no comment. He is being held without bail.

Police have not released a motive. Autopsy results have not been made public.

A student whose name was concealed in the documents told police that the day of the killing, she had stayed after class for help and heard Ritzer and Chism talking.

Ritzer mentioned Tennessee, and Chism appeared upset, but the teacher didn’t appear to notice and kept talking about it. When Ritzer did notice, she changed the subject, but the student noticed Chism talking to himself.

According to the documents, surveillance video showed Chism putting on gloves and wearing a hood as he followed Ritzer into a bathroom. The documents say he brought a box cutter, mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing to school that day.

Ritzer’s body was found on the ground in woods near the school, partly covered in leaves. Authorities say she had been sexually assaulted with a stick.

A timeline in the documents that’s based on surveillance video indicates a student may have seen part of the crime. As Chism and Ritzer are apparently in the bathroom together, a female student walks in, then quickly walks out. The student later said a person with dark skin appeared to be changing clothes. Chism is biracial; Ritzer was white.

One minute later, Chism walks out of the bathroom wearing a hood over his head. Nine minutes after that, he pulls a recycling barrel into the bathroom, then through the school and outside.

Chism, who had been spotted at a movie theater after the killing, was found walking along a highway in a neighboring town around 12:30 a.m. A police officer looked in his backpack and found a bloodstained box cutter, according to the documents.

Asked where it came from, Chism replied, “The girl.”

He also had Ritzer’s credit cards and driver’s license. He said he found them at a supermarket, then said he got them out of Ritzer’s car.

No one answered the door Friday at the Danvers home where Chism lived with his mother, two siblings and an aunt.

Shortly after the killing, Diana Chism released a statement saying she was heartbroken for Ritzer’s family.

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