GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 25, 2013

Danvers High confronts its loss

Classmate: Alleged killer stayed after class Tuesday

DANVERS — It was the last class of the day at Danvers High School when the students in Colleen Ritzer’s Algebra 1 class got up to leave.

Philip Chism, a quiet freshman who had recently moved to town from Tennessee, stayed in his seat. According to classmate Rania Rhaddaoui, Ritzer had noticed Chism drawing in a notebook instead of taking notes, and asked him to stay after class.

“She came over and said, ‘I didn’t know you draw,’ and he said, ‘yes.’ Then later on she said, ‘Can you stay after with me?’” Rhaddaoui said Thursday. “Obviously, he stayed after, because when I was leaving, he was still at his desk.”

Rhaddaoui said Ritzer had scheduled a test for Friday, but she was unsure exactly why the teacher asked Chism to stay after school Tuesday.

What happened next is now the subject of a murder investigation into the death of Ritzer, a popular, 24-year-old teacher from Andover.

Chism, 14, was charged with first-degree murder Wednesday after police found blood in a second-floor bathroom at Danvers High and discovered Ritzer’s body in the woods nearby.

Authorities have not released any details about how Ritzer was killed or Chism’s alleged motive. Carrie Kimball-Monahan, a spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said the case is still being investigated.

According to law enforcement sources, Chism used a box cutter to kill the teacher inside a Danvers High School bathroom and wheeled her body out in a recycling bin.

On a video taken by a security camera inside the newly built school, Chism can be seen following Ritzer into the bathroom, the sources said.

Chism later emerged from the bathroom, then returned and walked back into the bathroom pushing a large, wheeled recycling container, according the sources. Chism also changed his clothes at one point.

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