, Salem, MA

Local News

June 24, 2014

Psychologist: Chism 'psychotic' after June attack

DANVERS — Immediately after attacking a female staff member at a Department of Youth Services detention center earlier this month, Philip Chism appeared to be “psychotic,” according to documents released today by a judge.

Chism, 15, was “yelling, screaming incoherently (and) foaming at the mouth while being restrained by staff,” according to the petition to have him committed to Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital for 30 days of evaluation and treatment.

The petition was among additional documents that were unsealed by Salem Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead in response to a motion filed on behalf of The Salem News.

The petition, signed by psychologist Kenneth Rogers on June 4, describes the June 2 attack on a woman described as a clinician at the Dorchester facility, where, prosecutors say, he crouched out of view of observers and followed her into a locker room, armed with a pencil.

Under a section titled “specific examples of risk behaviors/recent incidents,” Rogers wrote: “On June 2 (2014), he attacked the unit clinician, first strangling, punching and stabbing her. Once pulled off her, he was out of touch with reality, screaming, yelling and moaning incoherently for about two hours even as he was taken away by ambulance to the (emergency department) of (Boston Medical Center).”

Chism is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, who, police say, was followed into a bathroom by Chism and attacked last October. He is also charged with raping her twice and robbing her.

The petition does not make specific reference to the details of that.

It also says that Chism’s mother told officials that prior to the June 2 incident, he had no psychiatric history or history of substance abuse.

The judge redacted a section of the petition that refers to statements allegedly made by Chism, at the request of his attorney, Denise Regan.

Chism’s hospitalization at the Worcester facility led prosecutors to seek additional recommendations from Whitehead for security measures there, but during a hearing on June 10, the judge denied the request, saying he had no legal authority to impose such conditions.

For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Salem News and

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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