Teen Went to Movies After Killing Teacher: Police

Reports indicate Phil Chism used box cutter to kill Colleen Ritzer

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 24, 2013 7:29 AM CDT

(Newser) – Details are emerging in the stunning death of Massachusetts high school teacher Colleen Ritzer, perhaps none more chilling than this: Her alleged killer reportedly took in a movie after doing the deed. Authorities tell the Boston Herald that Philip Chism caught the 4:30pm showing of Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine on Tuesday. At the time, he was only considered a missing person, but police believe he had already killed Ritzer by then. "He was here and gone before we even knew he was here," the theater's manager says.

In court, an official said that Chism "did assault and beat" Ritzer to death, according to the New York Times. But MyFoxBoston has a more lurid description: A source says Chism told police that he followed Ritzer into the bathroom, "punched her in the face, and slashed her throat with a box cutter." He then carried the body into the woods using a recycling bin. In other developments:

  • Danvers schools will reopen today, save for the high school itself, which will instead make grief counselors available from 10am to 12pm.
  • A vigil was held in Ritzer's memory last night, with roughly 300 people coming out to mourn. "She supported all of us. We should be there to support her," one senior there told the AP.
  • Ritzer was by all accounts a beloved and caring teacher. "I hate math … but she made it fun," says one 17-year-old, recalling one incident in which Ritzer noticed he was in a bad mood, and took him into the hall to talk about it. "We ended up talking out in the hall for like 20 minutes. I walked in the class feeling a lot better … it was amazing." Ritzer was pursuing a master's degree in school counseling at Salem State University, according to CNN.
  • Ritzer's engagement with her students extended to social media, where she posted encouraging messages and jokes. You can see some of them at ABC News.
  • Prosecutors won't say anything about Chism's relationship with Ritzer, but they did confirm that the freshman was in one of her classes. His teammates on the junior varsity soccer team tell the Herald that he excelled in math.
  • "He never seemed like a bad kid," one of those teammates says. The 6-foot-2 Chism was the team's lead scorer. "I asked him one time, 'So do you think you're going to get into Harvard? He said, 'Yeah, I have a pretty good shot.'"
  • Chism was born in Tennessee, and had moved to Danvers over the summer. Many described him as quiet, and CNN cites his "closest friends" as saying he didn't drink or do drugs, that he came from a good family, and that he hadn't been acting strangely.

Candles and teddy bears are placed at Danvers High School prior to a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School, Oct 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Parents and Danvers High School students hold candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School, Oct 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/ Bizuayehu Tesfaye)
Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court, Oct. 23, 2013. Chism has been ordered held without bail.   (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Patrick Whittemore)
Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer is seen in this undated photo provided by her family.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune)
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