Fifteen-year-old Philip Chism, the Massachusetts boy arrested for raping and murdering Danvers High School math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24, last December, is being charged with a second count of aggravated rape. Chism was originally indicted Nov. 21 for first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery after Ritzer’s body was found Oct. 23, 2013 in the woods behind the high school. Her throat had been slit with a box cutter, and her mobile phone, credit cards and underwear were missing.
The Essex County grand jury received new information in the Ritzer case that brought about the second aggravated rape charge. The first charge is for unlawful aggravated sexual assault with an object. The second rape charge is unlawful sexual intercourse during the commission of the crime. Chism pleaded not guilty to all charges in December, and is being held without bail at a youth facility. He is set to appear in court Jan. 30 for a pre-trial hearing. He will be tried as an adult for murder, and as a juvenile for aggravated rape and robbery.
The rape and murder of teacher Colleen Ritzer shocked everyone at Danvers High School. Students were devastated when they learned Chism was a suspect in Ritzer’s murder, as he was reportedly a quiet student who was shy and kept to himself. Some recalled seeing Chism and Ritzer talking after school the day of Oct. 22 about an upcoming exam. Ritzer apparently had not been known for any wrongdoing, and was a happy and enthusiastic teacher who loved her job.
Chism was arrested Oct. 23 after his mother reported him missing to the police. When his phone was “pinged,” they found the teenager had bought a movie ticket at a local movie theater. Chism was still missing when a video surveillance camera at Danvers High School showed him carrying Ritzer’s body out of a second-floor women’s restroom in a large recycling bin. He then evidently dumped Ritzer’s body in the woods and covered her with leaves and twigs, posing her body in a sexually suggestive position. District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said Chism committed “horrific and unspeakable acts.”
At the time of Ritzer’s murder, Chism’s parents were going through a difficult divorce. Chism and his mother had moved to Danvers, Mass., from Tennessee just recently before Ritzer’s murder. While sitting in Ritzer’s class the day she died, the teacher mentioned the state of Tennessee, after which Chism became visibly upset and started talking to himself, according to a student’s statement. A note had been left near Ritzer’s body in the woods when she was discovered, containing the words, “I hate you all.”
Although Chism does not have known mental health issues, there are various reasons teenagers kill. For the 15-year-old Chism, his parents’ divorce might have been the impetus behind Ritzer’s murder. This will likely be brought up during his trial. The teenager also suffered a major stressor when he and his mother moved from Clarksville, Tenn., to Danvers. The rape suspect charged on a second count of rape was still a relatively new student when he murdered Ritzer, the popular and beloved math teacher at Danvers High School.
By Juana Poareo