Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old, well-liked math teacher from Danvers High School in Danvers, Mass. was reported missing late last night when she didn’t return home. Calls to her cellphone on Tuesday night went unanswered. Her lifeless body was discovered in a wooded area behind Danvers High School early on the morning of Oct. 23.
MSN reported that that a 14-year-old student, Philip Chism, who was also reported missing last night, has been charged with beating Colleen Ritzer to death. It’s being alleged that Chism assaulted and subsequently murdered the teacher, and then dumped Ritzer’s body in the woods behind her school.
Chism was seen walking down the road in the next town over from Danvers around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Jonathan Blodgett, the Essex District Attorney, said that authorities recovered Ritzer’s body early this morning.
Investigators found blood in a second-floor school bathroom and soon located her body, Blodgett said. Prosecutors say the teen beat Ritzer to death.
"She was a very, very respected, loved teacher," Blodgett said, calling the killing a "terrible tragedy."
The 14-year-old alleged killer pleaded not-guilty to the murder charge in criminal court today, where he was ordered to be held without bail.
Early reports are that Chism, a soccer player at the school and one of Ritzer’s students, will be tried as an adult.
Police say they have recovered some video surveillance, as well as “statements by the suspect and corroborating evidence at multiple scenes.”
Dale Webster, Colleen Ritzer ‘s uncle, asked to have the family’s privacy respected during this difficult time and released the following statement:
"… we are mourning the tragic death or our amazing, beautiful daughter and sister," the statement read.
"Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students."
The murder resulted in the closing of all public schools in Danvers today.
Students from Danvers High School are planning a candlelight vigil for their beloved teacher tonight.
For more on the tragic tale of the murder of Colleen Ritzer, see the video accompanying this article.
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