Published October 24, 2013
A 24-year-old Massachusetts high school math teacher who authorities believe was murdered by a 14-year-old student was remembered across the state Wednesday night. Hundreds turned out for a candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Danvers High School, where Colleen Ritzer worked. At nearby Fenway Park in Boston, a moment of silence was held in Ritzer's memory prior to the first pitch of Game 1 of the World Series.
Meanwhile, Phillip Chism was being held without bail after he was charged by the Essex County district attorney as an adult Wednesday during his arraignment at Salem District Court.
Chism pleaded not guilty. His defense attorney argued for the proceedings to be closed and her client to be allowed to stay hidden because of his age. The judge denied the request. The judge approved a motion for a mental evaluation, The Boston Herald reported.
MyFoxBoston.com reported Wednesday night that Chism admitted to police that he had followed Ritzer into a women's bathroom at the school, punched her in the face, and slashed her throat with a box cutter. Chism then put the teacher's body in a recycling bin and brought it to the woods near the school.
Ritzer's body was found were Chism allegedly left it early Wednesday. She had not returned home from work Tuesday and was not answering her cellphone, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Wednesday. When investigators went to the school to look for Ritzer, they found blood in a second-floor school bathroom. Chism, who had also been reported missing, was found by police walking along Route 1 in nearby Topsfield early Wednesday.
Authorities said there is no reason to believe there is another suspect.
High school student Kendall Meehan told the Boston Herald that the school superintendent alerted families with a robo telephone call Wednesday morning.
"It's just terrifying," she said. "Nothing like this ever happens in Danvers."
Joe Spanos, a former teacher at Andover High School, knew Ritzer for about 10 years. He mentored her, she worked at his convenient store and, at times, babysat his children. Spanos said Ritzer was the kind of woman that you wanted your daughter to emulate.
"She was beautiful on the inside and out," he told FoxNews.com. "She's not a fighter. She probably never saw it coming," he said.
Ritzer appeared to have a Twitter account where she posted math questions and assignment for students. On Aug. 11, she posted, "No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."
Ritzer is a 2011 graduate of Assumption College, where she earned a bachelors degree in mathematics and a minor in psychology, with a secondary education concentration, according to Assumption Director of Media Relations Lorraine U. Martinelle. Ritzer graduated magna cum laude.
She is the second teacher allegedly killed by a student in the U.S. this week. A Sparks, Nev., middle school teacher was allegedly shot by a 12-year-old student on Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.