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Local News

November 21, 2013

Boy, 14, indicted in death of Danvers High teacher

DANVERS — Nearly a month after Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer was killed, prosecutors have revealed grim new details about the moments before her death, a death they say came at the hands of a 14-year-old boy named Philip Chism.

Chism was indicted today by the Essex County grand jury not only on a first degree-murder charge, but for aggravated rape and armed robbery.

Prosecutors said in a press release announcing the indictment that Ritzer was sexually assaulted by Chism with an object, which was not identified. The charge is described as “aggravated rape” because it occurred during the course of the murder and robbery.

Prosecutors also allege that Chism used a box cutter to rob Ritzer of her iPhone, her credit cards and her underwear.

The exact cause of her death remains unclear. The state medical examiner’s office concluded that her death was a murder based on the nature of the injuries, but have not determined exactly which of those injuries killed her.

Prosecutors have not said where Ritzer was killed, though they have said that blood was found in a second-floor girls bathroom.

They have stressed that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Ritzer.

District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett described the crimes as “horrific and unspeakable acts.”

Ritzer’s family in Andover reported her missing when she did not return home from school on the evening of Oct. 22. Her body was found in a wooded area near Danvers High School, partially concealed by leaves.

The discovery of her body came following a search for both her and Chism, who was found walking on Route 1 in Topsfield. Chism gave a video-recorded interview to police, according to court documents.

Law enforcement sources have said Ritzer’s body was put into a recycling bin, and that school surveillance cameras captured Chism wheeling her out of the school.

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