The Danvers homicide of a high school teacher has closed all the schools in the town for the day. The body of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer was found in a wooded area off Cabot Road behind Danvers High School, according to Pix 11 on Oct. 23.
Authorities in Danvers held a press conference today to say that the teacher, who was reported missing last night, was found dead. They also reported a 14-year-old boy, Philip D. Chism, who was also reported missing last night when he didn’t return home from school, is under arrest and charged in the murder of Colleen Ritzer.
The family of the high school teacher, who was new to the school this year, reported her missing last night after 11:20 p.m., which prompted a search. The authorities started their search at the school where they found blood in a second floor bathroom, according to Boston.com today.
The search continued until Ritzer’s body was discovered in the woods off Cabot Road, behind the Danvers High School. Her cause of death was not made known to the public. Authorities then focused the search for the person who did this. After the body was found, Twitter lit up with people from Danvers warning everyone to be on the lookout for this 14-year-old boy.
The boy was found walking along Rt 1 in Danvers at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday and arrested without incident by the police. He was arraigned on a murder charge at Salem Juvenile District Court and held without bail today. Chism is going to be tried as an adult in this murder case. The judge has already allocated funds for a psychological evaluation for the suspect.
District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett assured everyone at a press conference today that there is no danger, as they got the suspect in custody. They believe the 14-year-old boy acted alone in this crime.
When Blodgett was asked at the press conference if the suspect knew Ritzer or how the suspect was linked to the victim, he declined to answer.
The police reports said that Chism became a suspect after security camera footage was viewed at the school. He wasn’t charged until after the police interviewed him as a suspect. The police report said that both the victim and the suspect knew each other through the school.
It was a tweet by Danvers Police last night at 9:25 p.m. that started the ball rolling on the search for Chism. They said they were looking for him. They gave his last whereabouts as the Hollywood Hits Theater on Endicot Street at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. The last tweet from the Danvers Police Department about Chism was on Wednesday morning when they tweeted that he had been found safe.
Chism was in court this morning described as “tall and lanky” with “short cropped” hair. He listened to the charges with a solemn demeanor. His mother was also in the courtroom, she sat in the gallery. Parents of Danvers’ school kids got an early morning call, at 4:45 a.m. on Wednesday saying only that there was a police presence at the school and that the schools in the town were closed for the day.
Various news outlets talked to residents and classmates of Chism today and everyone that knew Chism, who just recently relocated her from Tennessee, was shocked. From what everyone said he was a nice, hard-working kid. He is the leading scorer for the high school’s junior varsity team as a striker.
His teammates said he didn’t make practice on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. and he missed the weekly team dinner at one of his teammate’s homes, which is held at 6 p.m., the teammates said.
If there is a motive known, the police have not shared this with the public. Danvers is a bedroom community about 20 miles outside of Boston. It has a population of 26,000 and the town has a high school, a middle school and five elementary schools.
The schools were closed after such a horrific crime, in this close-knit community today due to this crime, it is not known if grief counseling is setup for the high school kids returning to school on Thursday.