The Slatest

Grisly New Details Emerge in the Murder of Mass. High School Teacher

Prosecutors say they plan to try 14-year-old Philip D. Chism as an adult for the murder and rape of one of his high school teachers

Screenshot from Associated Press feed of Thursday’s hearing

Thanks to yesterday’s indictment and additional court documents released this morning at the request of the Associated Press and other news outlets, we now have a better picture of what police say happened in the hours before and after the grisly murder of Colleen Ritzer, the 24-year-old high school teacher who was found dead behind her Massachusetts school last month. That picture is an increasingly disturbing one.

Police now say that not only did 14-year-old Philip Chism kill Ritzer in a school bathroom, but that he also raped and robbed his teacher before dragging her half-naked body into the woods behind the building where she was left with a note that read, “I hate you all.”


On Thursday, Chism was indicted on first-degree murder as an adult, and aggravated rape and armed robbery as a youthful offender (although prosecutors expect to eventually try him as an adult on those two charges as well, according to the Boston Globe). Here’s the AP with more from today’s release:


A student whose name was concealed in the document told police that the day of the killing, she had stayed for extra help after class and heard Ritzer and Chism talking. Ritzer mentioned Tennessee [where Chism had recently moved from], and Chism appeared upset, but the teacher didn’t appear to notice and kept talking about it. When Ritzer noticed he was upset, she changed the topic, but the student noticed Chism talking to himself.


According to the documents, surveillance video showed Chism putting on gloves and with a hood over his head as he followed Ritzer into a bathroom. The documents say he brought a box cutter, mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing to school the day Ritzer was killed.

Shortly after Ritzer’s body was discovered, police found Chism at about 12:30 a.m. walking along a highway in a neighboring town. When they looked inside his backpack, they found a bloodstained box cutter, which they believe to be the murder weapon. When asked where it came from, according to the documents, Chism replied: “The girl.” Police say the 14-year-old also had Ritzer’s credit cards and driver’s license on him when they took him into custody.

Authorities have yet to suggest a possible motive for the killing, although the Globe notes that during a recent court hearing, prosecutors stressed that there was nothing to suggest that Ritzer had engaged in any wrongdoing.

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