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Philip Chism and the Crime of Colleen Ritzer

Philip Chism: Massachusetts, Math & Murder

A young woman named Colleen Ritzer was raped and murdered in Massachusetts on October 22, 2014. The young woman was a 24-year-old math teacher. Ritzer was described as a woman who inspired many with her heart, intellect and positive spirit.Her friends and family remember her as an energetic and compassionate person. You couldn’t ask for anything more from a teacher or a friend, recalled one such friend. The perpetrator was a 14 year-old-student of Ritzer’s named Philip Chism. Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a public statement, The indictments detail horrific and unspeakable acts. Ritzer was found with her throat slashed and a handwritten note near her body reading, “I hate you all.”

The Act

Chism was charged with murder, aggravated rape, and armed robbery in Essex District Court. The state’s case consisted of testimony from eyewitnesses and a surveillance video taken from the school that showed Chism and Ritzer were in the same area of the school. The footage shows Ritzer enter a school restroom on the second floor. The video also shows a person, allegedly Chism, follow Ritzer into the restroom about a minute later. Another student entered the restroom and quickly left. She would later testify that she saw a person who looked as though they were changing clothes. Then Chism is seen leaving the restroom. He returns shortly after carrying a green recycling bin. He leaves later with the recycling bin only to return shortly after with a black mask on. It would later appear that the green recycling bin was used to carry Ritzer’s body to the woods.

The Arrest

criminal lawyerChism’s mother contacted the authorities on October 22 to report that he was missing. He apparently had gone to the Hollywood Hits Theater to purchase a ticket for a movie, but he did not stay. The following day Chism was found by a police officer carrying a bloodstained box cutter. He had credit cards and a driver’s license that belonged to Ritzer and a pair of women’s underwear. Meanwhile, Ritzer’s body was found by officers in the woods near the green recycling bin. Gloves, similar to those that appear in the surveillance video, were also found near her body. This discovery led to officers obtaining a search warrant for Chism’s home. Chism was charged as a youthful offender on the charges of both aggravated rape and armed robbery.


District Attorney Blodgett stated that he hoped these charges would be the first step towards closure for the friends and family of Colleen Ritzer. Her family released a statement saying, We are devastated and heartbroken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen. A week after her death about 1,000 people paid their respects at the church where Colleen Ritzer worshiped. Among the group were about four hundred Danvers High School students.

At Brownstone Law we too mourn the loss of this young woman and hope for peace for the family and friends of Colleen Ritzer.

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Robert L Sirianni
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