Colleen Ritzer

Philip Chism: Teen Convicted Of Raping And Killing Math Teacher Colleen Ritzer

Philip Chism was convicted of numerous charges on Tuesday, including aggravated rape, armed robbery, and first-degree murder. Although his defense team claims he suffers from mental illness, the 16-year-old boy was found guilty of raping and killing a 24-year-old who was his math teacher.

In 2013, Philip Chism and his mother moved to Danvers, Massachusetts, from Clarksville, Tennessee. As he was having a hard time adjusting and dealing with his parents’ divorce, Ritzer asked him to stay after school for extra help on October 22.

According to witness reports, Colleen attempted to talk to the then 14-year-old boy about his hometown. However, as he grew visibly agitated with her questions, the teacher quickly changed the subject.

As reported by CBS News, surveillance video captured Ritzer leaving her classroom and entering the ladies’ restroom. Chism was then observed sticking his head out of the classroom and looking down the hallway.

As the hall was empty, the teen covered his head with his sweatshirt hood and followed his teacher into the restroom. Approximately 15 minutes later, Philip left the restroom. After walking to his car and changing his shirt, the teen reentered the restroom with a wheeled recycling bin.

As reported by the New York Times, authorities believe Chism used the bin to transport Colleen Ritzer out of the school building and into the woods. Although it is unclear whether she was dead before she was placed in the bin, officials confirmed Colleen was physically assaulted and brutally raped.

A medical examiner later determined the teacher eventually died of blood loss resulting from a slashed throat.

Authorities were alerted to the situation by Philip Chism’s mother, who was concerned when her son did not return home from school. As they were concerned for the teen’s safety, school officials sent out a mass email to all members of the Danvers High School faculty and staff.

Upon receipt of the email, a teacher, whose identity was not revealed, reported that Ritzer was missing as well.

In the early morning hours of October 23, authorities found Philip walking along Route 1 in Topsfield. During a subsequent search, authorities recovered Colleen’s credit cards and drivers license, a knife, a pair of women’s panties, and a box cutter covered in blood.

That same morning, Colleen Ritzer’s body was discovered in a wooded area near Danvers High school. A note, which was found near the victim simply stated, “I hate you all.”

In the months preceding the murder, Chism’s parents went through a “stressful” divorce. The teen also seemed to be distraught, as he and his mother recently moved to a new state. However, prior to October 22, Philip had no history of violent behavior.

During the trial, psychiatrist Richard G. Dudley Jr. testified that Chism likely “has a psychotic disorder, probably early-onset schizophrenia, that accounted for his actions.”

In stark contrast, prosecutors argued that the teen clearly planned to commit a violent crime on October 22, as he brought the weapons and extra clothing to school.

The jury, which deliberated for 18 hours, announced their unanimous decision on Tuesday. Boston Globe reports Philip Chism was convicted of aggravated rape, armed robbery, and first-degree murder.

In response to the court’s decision, Shannon Ritzer’s father said, “There can never be true justice for the crime that was committed… Colleen never gave up, and neither will we. We will not allow Colleen’s death to define how she is remembered.”

Philip Chism’s conviction was announced on Tuesday. However, his sentencing will be scheduled for a later date. As he was tried as an adult, the teen is facing life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. It is unclear whether prosecutors will request that he serve his time consecutively or concurrently.

[Photo by Paul Bilodeau/The Eagle Tribune/AP, Pool]

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