2nd teacher killed by student this week
Oct 24, 2013 / 7:55 am
A town outside Boston was in mourning Thursday after a popular math teacher was allegedly killed by a 14-year-old student.
Prosecutors say Colleen Ritzer was killed sometime Tuesday. Her body was later found in the woods behind Danvers High School, where she taught and Philip Chism attended classes. And on Wednesday, Chism was being held without bail after being arraigned on a murder charge.
Officials haven't released a cause of death or discussed a motive in the killing. A court filing said Ritzer and Chism knew each other from the high school, but it didn't elaborate.
Blood found in a second-floor school bathroom helped lead investigators to Ritzer's body, after she was reported missing Tuesday, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.
Ritzer is the second teacher allegedly killed by a student in the U.S. this week. A Nevada middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student on Monday.
In Massachusetts, investigators said in court documents that the student's arrest was made based on statements by the suspect, evidence from school surveillance cameras and corroborating evidence in multiple places.
The Boston Red Sox held a moment of silence for Ritzer on Wednesday at Fenway Park before Game 1 of baseball's World Series.
Hundreds of people later turned out for a candlelight vigil at the school parking lot, many wearing pink sweatshirts, bows or T-shirts in tribute to Ritzer and her favouritecolour.
"She supported all of us. We should be there to support her," said Danvers senior Courtney Arnoldy, 18, who had Ritzer for a teacher.
Chism's family and attorney did not comment Wednesday.
Chism had moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee before the start of the school year and was a top scorer on the school's junior varsity soccer team, said Kyle Cahill, a junior who also plays soccer.
He said the team had been wondering where Chism was when he skipped a team dinner Tuesday night.
Ritzer, 24, lived at home with her 20-year-old brother and her sister, a high school senior.
Her family said they are mourning the death of their "amazing, beautiful daughter and sister."
"Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students," the family said in a statement provided by her uncle Dale Webster.
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." She was a 2011 magna cum laude graduate of Assumption College in Worcester, a school spokeswoman said.
Kelleher said students related to the young teacher, who liked to wear jeans and UGG boots just like the teenagers she taught.
One of her former students, Chris Weimert, 17, said she was a warm, welcoming person who would stand outside her classroom and say hello to students she didn't teach.
"She was the nicest teacher anyone could ever have. She always had a warm smile on her face," he said.
Mary Duffy has lived next door to the Ritzers in the suburban neighbourhood in Andover since the family moved there more than two decades ago. She said Colleen Ritzer had just one life ambition: to be a high school math teacher.
"All I ever heard is that she loved her job," Duffy said.
Public schools in Danvers were closed Wednesday. All schools but the high school were holding classes Thursday, while the high school was scheduled to reopen for two hours so students could meet with counsellors and grief specialists. All classes were scheduled to resume Friday.
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