Police sources: Teen slit Danvers, Mass. teacher's throat with box cutter

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October 24, 2013, 6:28 pm
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(NECN: Ally Donnelly, Danvers, Mass.) – A meeting was to be held for parents Thursday night at Danvers High School, and classes are set to resume there Friday.

Many students came to school Thursday to speak with counselors about the brutal death of Colleen Ritzer. The teacher was allegedly murdered by a student.

Leaving Danvers High School, Freshman Nicole White said, "It's indescribable and it's so shocking to everyone. It just hurts."

Hundreds of students streamed in and out of the school Thursday morning, talking with grief counselors, their teachers and each other. Many say they stopped by Colleen Ritzer's classroom -- A209 -- where her name plate was taken down, the door was locked and the lights were off.

Sophomore Katherine Kowalski said, "It's like none of her stuff left in the room, just bare."

Police sources tell NECN the popular math teacher's throat was slit with a box cutter after she went into the girl’s bathroom near her classroom. They say the suspect -- one of her students, 14-year-old Philip Chism -- changed his clothes after the attack and then carried her body out of school and into the woods using a recycling bin.

We asked senior Kaio Silva if Chism ever talked about Miss Ritzer.

"Never," he said. "Never. Not once."

Everyone in this North Shore community is grappling with the question -- why? The 6'2" Chism was a stand-out JV soccer player. Students say he was quiet, but friendly and approachable, particularly with his teammates.

Varsity soccer player Chris Davis said, "As the new kid, he didn't have like a lot of friends, but you could talk to him and he'd be like very friendly to you."

Chism had recently moved to Danvers from Clarksville, Tenn. and started as a freshman in September.

Sophomore Zachary McAdam said, "He didn't like it -- he wanted to be back in Tennessee."

McAdam and freshman Gilberto Perez say they were friends with Chism and were all in Ritzer's algebra class together.

"He just became more and more distant," McAdam said. "He would draw in his notebook in the back of class and listen to music."

And not engage in class, we asked.

"No. Not unless he was forced to," answered McAdam.

Perez says Tuesday, Ritzer asked Chism to see her after class.

"He wasn't really doing his work," he said. "So she just wanted him to stay after to do some work because we do have a test tomorrow."

Perez says he couldn't tell if Chism was upset about having to stay, but Ritzer never made it seem like he was in trouble. Perez did go back to the classroom about a half hour later to ask Ritzer a question about the homework.

"But when I got up there," he said. "No one was in there, but his backpack was in the room and the door was wide open."

Hours later, Ritzer was found dead.

Fourteen-year-old Chism was charged with her murder in adult court Wednesday and remains in custody, but the district attorney has not yet indicated whether or not he will be tried as an adult.

Tags: murder, Ally Donnelly, chris davis, Philip Chism, Colleen Ritzer, danvers massaschusetts, katherine kowalski, nicole white, zachary mcadam
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