Philip Chism to Serve Life in Prison With Chance for Parole for Murder of Colleen Ritzer

Judge sentences Chism to life for "brutal and senseless" slaying, but parole could cut sentence to 40 years

Trying hard to blink back whatever emotion is bottled inside him, Philip Chism stared mostly straight ahead as the judge sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the murder of his Danvers High School Math teacher Colleen Ritzer and no less than 40 years for her rape and armed robbery.

"I wish I could have helped Colleen," her mother, Peggy Ritzer, said. "But no one could have helped her that day, because no one knew what evil sat in her classroom that day."

Ritzer's parents wiped away tears as they remembered their smiling, joyous eldest child and the pain of her loss.

Philip Chism Trial

"I lost my beautiful little girl, Colleen was my daughter, my friend, someone I could go to for anything," said Colleen's father Tom Ritzer, "I didn't protect Colleen. A dad's job is to fix things. I would do anything if I could fix this for Colleen."

Before the sentence was imposed, Colleen's younger brother and sister had argued for the maximum allowable sentence under the law and vowed to fight each and every time Chism is up for parole.

"Put this animal behind bars for the maximum possible sentence, and I beg of you, your honor, do not give this coward the opportunity to shatter another family's lives," said the victim's brother, Dan Ritzer.

"The Ritzer family will always be Ritz Five," said sister Laura Ritzer. "And you can try to tear us down as much as you want, but we will find a way to bounce back, and we will not let this stop us."

Even the judge had harsh words for Chism.

"No amount of prison time would ever be enough to be commensurate with this crime, and no math will ever erase the reality that this crime was a committed by a 14-year-old boy," said Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy.

"Colleen and our family will never get a second chance, and neither should he," said Peggy Ritzer. "I will never forgive him for what he did to Colleen and for what he took away from our family."

Philip Chism's mother, Diana released a statement saying, "Words can't express the amount of pain and sorrow these past two and a half years have been. However, there is no one who has suffered more than the Ritzer family. My utmost esteem, prayers and humble respect is with them today as they continue their journey to heal."

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