A missing-person search for a young and beloved Massachusetts teacher ends and a homicide investigation begins after her corpse was found in the woods near Danvers High. Following a recent school shooting in Sparks, NV on Monday, this is the second incident this week where a United States teacher has allegedly been killed by a student, and much like the late Mike Landsberry, the most recent victim, Colleen Ritzer is remembered, revered and greatly missed by her community.
A 14 year old suspect and student at Danvers High, Philip D. Chism, has been arrested and is being charged with murder, and is said to be tried in adult court after being picked up by police after being spotted walking along Route 1 in the early AM hours on Wednesday in Topsfield, MA. After the defense was denied request for anonymity and seeking closure of the case, Essex DA’s office confirms that they will be pursuing formal charges against the suspect.
The investigation began after police found blood in the Danvers High upstairs bathroom and ended when a corpse was found in a wooded area adjacent to the high school.
The Boston Globe reported earlier that Ritzer’s neighbor, Mary Duffy, had very pleasant things to say about her, including that Colleen “was gentle, with a big smile…. She was just always interested in being a math teacher” and that the incident “makes no sense.”
After being missing for a single day, this adored Massachusetts teacher was found in the woods near Danvers High, and those who knew her have shared many kind words about their time spent together in this world.
“Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students,” said her family in a announcement provided by uncle Dale Webster.”
For the first time, math became one of my favorite classes”, said 14 year old freshman Riley Doyle, who was a student in Ritzer’s geometry class when speaking with CBSNews.com and that she “was always really upbeat and positive and excited about math”, it’s as though “she made every lesson like you wanted to learn it” Riley continued. “She was always very courteous to her students, and she would never talk down to them,” Riley went on to say. “She treated them like people.”
Unfortunately, there are many remaining questions in this case in terms of how and why, but one thing is clear. Colleen Ritzer was a young and gifted Massachusetts teacher who, despite having one of the toughest jobs in America, took her work very seriously, yet simultaneously conducted her gift of education in a way that made an often dry subject such as math approachable and enjoyable to those teenagers who had the pleasure of learning from her.
Colleen Ritzer is not just a Massachusetts teacher whose corpse was found in the woods, she is a model for what all educators should strive for in connecting with their students and community. She is a fallen hero whose story deserves to be told.
Written by Brian Ball