A chilling interview with Philip Chism, now 16, who is accused of raping and murdering his algebra teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Danvers, Massachusetts, indicates that the brutal murder could have been triggered by the word “Tennessee,” according to NY Daily News. On October 24, 2013, the body of Ritzer, who taught at Danvers High School, was found at a nearby wooded area with her throat slashed and she had been “sexually assaulted twice, once with a stick.” A recycling barrel and a note that said “I hate you all” was also found next to her body.
Surveillance footage at the school captured Ritzer’s last moments, walking into the bathroom with her then 14-year-old student Chism and never walking out. Just 12 minutes after the two entered the bathroom, the teen was seen dragging a recycling barrel out of the lavatory. It was later uncovered that he slit her throat with a box cutter moments after raping her. He subsequently placed her body in the bin and dragged her to a wooded area behind the school where he then shoved a stick inside of her.
— Katy (@asktheBigot) October 5, 2015
According to the Boston Globe, after Chism dumped his teacher’s body in the woods, he stole her iPhone, credit cards, and underwear before walking to a local theater and purchasing a ticket to see the movie Blue Jasmine. At approximately 11:20 p.m. that day, Ritzer was reported missing after she didn’t return home from the school and didn’t answer her cellphone. Danvers police officials searched the school and discovered smeared blood on the second-floor bathroom, which prompted a “search of the school grounds” – Ritzer’s body was found several hours later.
The following day, Chism was arrested and charged with his teacher’s murder after police officials spotted him walking on north Route 1 nearby Topsfield. He was carrying the bloody box cutter that was used to slash Ritzer’s throat, her iPhone, credit cards, and her underwear in his backpack.
Ritzer’s students were visibly upset by their teacher’s sudden, tragic death and was in disbelief that Chism had anything to do with her murder. “I wish I could say that you could tell that Philip was someone who would do something like that, but I can’t,” said 14-year-old Andrew Poland.
“I don’t know what snapped in him to do this.”
Another student Alec Cianfrocca, 15, said, “I just don’t know why he would do that. I don’t like to think about it much, because it makes me upset.”
The day Ritzer was murdered, which was two days before her body was found on October 23, several students said that the algebra teacher noticed he was drawing while she was giving a lecture. She approached him and said, “I didn’t know you could draw.” He calmly replied with “Yes,” but when she mentioned the word “Tennessee” which is where he’s originally from, his attitude changed. Students say he became visibly upset and began to mumble to himself after Ritzer asked to see him after class.
According to a court document, Chrism said in an interview that “After she insulted me, that’s when I became the teacher.” His attorney is planning to use “mental health defense” after learning that during the time he murdered his teacher, he was “stressed from his parents’ divorce and leaving their home in Clarksville, Tennessee.”
However, Daniel Medwed, who is a law professor at Northcentral University, says that “I would really think that youth is going to be a huge factor. Part of the argument would be that Chism couldn’t control whatever disease or defect he had.”
“I assume the defense will tie it into research on adolescent brain development, in particular. Adolescents have a difficult time calculating the future and having a sense of the ramifications on their future lives.”
Philip Chism is currently being held without bond at the Department of Youth Services facility. He will be charged as an adult and will soon be on trial for the rape, robbery, and murder of Colleen Ritzer. A jury selection will begin on Wednesday for his trial at Essex Superior Court in Salem.
[Image via YouTube screen capture]