Niagara Gazette

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October 23, 2013

High school student accused in math teacher's murder

DANVERS, Mass. — A high school math teacher in suburban Boston was murdered Tuesday night, and a 14-year-old student is being charged in her death, according to the local district attorney.

Classes today were cancelled in Danvers, about 20 miles north of Boston, as police investigated the apparent murder. A portion of the high school was marked off as a crime scene.

Police received a report at 11:20 p.m. Tuesday that Colleen Ritzer, 24, had not returned home and was not answering her cell phone, said Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.

Police went to Danvers High School and found blood in a second-floor bathroom. A search of the area discovered Ritzer's body in woods near the school.

"It is apparent she was a homicide victim," Blodgett said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

Earlier in the day, police received a report that a 14-year-old student had not returned home from school. Just after midnight, police found the boy walking north in the southbound lane of a busy highway.

The boy was taken into custody and scheduled to be arraigned in juvenile court Wednesday. Blodgett did not identify the boy, but Danvers police earlier in the day identified the missing student as Philip Chism, a member of the school's soccer team who had recently moved from Tennessee.

Ritzer went to nearby Andover High School, graduating in 2007. She graduated from Assumption College, in Worcester, Mass., in 2011. She began teaching at Danvers High in September 2012.

Blodgett described her as a "very, very respected teacher," and said her murder was a "terrible tragedy."

She maintained a Twitter account at @msritzermath, where she posted homework assignments and described herself as "a math teacher often too excited about the topics I'm teaching."

Details for this story were reported by The Salem, Mass., News and The Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Mass.

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