US student charged after teacher Colleen Ritzer is found dead in woods

Philip Chism
Philip Chism

(BBC) A 14-year-old boy has been charged in the death of a teacher whose body was found in woodland behind her school.

Philip Chism was ordered to be held without bail as he was arraigned in a Massachusetts state court for the murder of Colleen Ritzer.

The 24-year-old, who taught maths at a high school in the town of Danvers, was found by searchers early on Wednesday.

Colleen Ritzer lived in her family home with her brother and her sister
Colleen Ritzer lived in her family home with her brother and her sister

Investigators search the woods behind the high school in Danvers
Investigators search the woods behind the high school in Danvers

A student leaves flowers and a teddy bear outside Danvers High School
A student leaves flowers and a teddy bear outside Danvers High School

Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said she had been a “very respected, loved teacher”.

The accused has been charged as an adult and is scheduled to appear back in court on 22 November.

‘Terrified’

All Danvers schools were closed on Wednesday. Officials said there was no reason to believe there were any other suspects.

Mr Blodgett said investigators had found blood in a second-floor toilet at Danvers High School and soon located Ritzer, who lived in the nearby town of Andover.

The suspect had also been reported missing after not returning from school.

He was spotted by police walking along a road in neighbouring Topsfield at about 00:30 local time on Wednesday (04:30 GMT).

On Wednesday morning, students were shaken by the death.

“We are all terrified,” Caitlin McBride, a student at Danvers High School, told the Boston Globe.

“It’s very scary. No-one will ever look at this school the same way anymore.”

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