Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Salem, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013.
Patrick Whittemore/AP

Teen charged after teacher found dead near Danvers High School


Police are accusing 14-year-old Philip Chism of murdering a Massachusetts teacher whose body was found just after midnight Wednesday in the woods behind the high school where she taught.

Chism was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and held without bail in Salem, Mass., after the beaten body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer was found near Danvers High School. Authorities also discovered blood in the bathroom of the school. No immediate motive was clear.

The school in Danvers, about 30 minutes from Boston, remained closed Wednesday.

The Ritzer family said they were mourning the “tragic death of our amazing, beautiful daughter and sister,” in a statement to NBC News. They added “Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students. We would like to ask everyone to respect our privacy at this most difficult time.” 

Jonathan Blodgett, the district attorney in Essex County, called Ritzer’s death a “terrible tragedy” and that she was a “very respected, loved teacher.”

Ritzer graduated magna cum laude from Assumption College in Massachusetts with a math degree.

Her death comes just two days after Michael Landsberry, a 45-year-old mathematics teacher, was shot and killed by a 12-year-old student in Sparks Middle School in Nevada. Two students were injured in the rampage, in which Landsberry tried to shield other students from the line of gunfire.

According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the U.S. has witnessed 12 active-shooter situations so far in 2013, a number that has tripled since the beginning of the century. The two incidents from this week are particularly shocking given the young age of the alleged shooters. 



Teen charged after teacher found dead near Danvers High School