Court documents unsealed Friday say that a Massachusetts teenager charged with raping and killing his math teacher planned the attack, bringing a box cutter, a mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing to school.
Colleen Ritzer, 24, a popular math teacher at Danvers High School, was found dead in woods near the school on Oct. 23, shocking the small northeastern Massachusetts town. The killing generated even more shock when a student became the main suspect.
Philip Chism, 14, was indicted by a grand jury on charges of murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery. He has been charged as an adult in the murder.
Both Ritzer and Chism were reported missing Oct. 22 after neither returned home from school. Chism was found wandering on a busy street early the next morning.
Police searching for Ritzer discovered blood in a women’s bathroom at the school, which eventually led them to her body.
According to the police affidavit, Chism left a handwritten note next to Ritzer's body reading, “I hate you all." The affidavit provides a minute-by-minute time line of the killing drawn from school surveillance video.
According to the documents, just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 22, Ritzer walked from her classroom to the second-floor restroom. A minute later, Chism followed "with a hood over his head, donning gloves."
Twelve minutes later, the affidavit says, Chism was seen walking out of the bathroom. Over the next several minutes, the docutment says, he changed his clothes, put on a black mask and dragged a recycling barrel into the bathroom. The barrel was found the following day, about 20 yards from Ritzer's body.
The indictment alleges that Chism "did kill and murder" Ritzer, according to a statement from the Essex district attorney's office. It also alleges that he "sexually assaulted the victim with an object" and, "armed with a box cutter, robbed the victim of credit cards, an iPhone and her underwear." Police found Chism the morning of Oct. 23 with a knife, credit cards, two driver's licenses and a pair of women's underwear, according to the affidavit.
The document says that when police found Chism with a bloodstained box cutter and asked where the blood had come from, he answered, “The girl.”
Another student told police she was in the same classroom with Ritzer and Chism to get extra help in math on the day of the killing, the documents say.
Chism became visibly upset after Ritzer mentioned Tennessee, the student told police. Ritzer noticed and changed the topic, the affidavit says, but Chism continued to be upset. The boy's mother, Diana Chism, told police that she and her son and daughter had recently moved from Tennessee, in part because she was divorcing her husband. “She said that it was a stressful divorce,’’ the affidavit says.“Ms. Chism’s heart is broken for the Ritzer family and the loss of their daughter and sister Colleen Ritzer," Philip Chism's lawyer said Oct. 26 in a statement provided to the Los Angeles Times.
Massachusetts law requires that anyone over the age of 14 who is indicted on a murder charge be tried as an adult. Under state law, Chism has been indicted as a youthful offender on the aggravated rape and armed robbery charges because he is between the ages of 14 and 17.
“The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts,” Dist. Atty. Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement. "This is the first step in a long process to secure justice for Ms. Ritzer and her family," he said.
Chism is being held without bail.
Ritzer's family released a statement Thursday after the indictment: "We are devastated and heartbroken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen."
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