, Salem, MA

January 3, 2014

Family of slain teacher decries court decision on parole

Julie Manganis
Staff writer


The family of the 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher slain, allegedly by a student, in October is speaking out against last week's Supreme Judicial Court decision that opens the door for juveniles convicted of first-degree murder to seek parole. 

In a statement released this morning through their attorneys, members of Colleen Ritzer's family expressed a sense of "betrayal and anguish" over the ruling, which they learned about when it was released on Christmas Eve. 

Last week's decision will likely affect the sentence of Philip Chism, the 14-year-old Danvers teenager charged with raping, robbing and murdering Ritzer last Oct. 22, if he is convicted of first-degree murder. 

The family's statement goes on to say the decision "provides more rights to those youths convicted of horrible and heinous crimes than victims and their families." 

"While these convicted murderers are now provided a second chance through the possibility of parole, victims slain at the hands of ‘youthful offenders,’ possibly even our precious daughter Colleen, will be victimized again and again," the statement says. 

"There will never be ‘parole’ for our family’s life sentence without Colleen," the family said in the statement. 

They are calling for the decision to be overturned. 

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.