Philip D. Chism, the 14-year-old high school student accused of killing his math teacher Colleen Ritzer in October and stashing her body in a nearby woods, is now facing additional charges of rape and robbery.
The new charges were outlined in indictments from an Essex County grand jury on Thursday. According to the Boston Globe, the indictments against Chism are for first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery.
Prosecutors say that the Danvers, Mass., high school student sexually assaulted and robbed Ritzer, 24, during an after-school extra-help session at Danvers High School on Oct. 22, before stabbing her with a box cutter. Students told law enforcement officials that Ritzer had asked Chism to stay after school so that he could prepare for an exam.
At some point during the session, Ritzer left the classroom to use a bathroom on the building’s second floor. Surveillance footage showed a masked figure follow her in seconds later. Police later found blood in the bathroom, sparking a search of the campus grounds. Ritzer’s body was located just before 3 a.m., with a note not far from it, saying “I hate you all.”
Police Officer Neil Hovey found Chism the following day, walking north on Route 1 in the adjacent town of Topsfield, Mass. An affidavit from State Police Trooper Robert C. LaBarge Jr., which was unsealed on Friday, said Hovey searched through Chism’s backpack and uncovered credit cards, two driver’s licenses and underwear that belonged to Ritzer.
LaBarge also wrote in his affidavit that another student present during the extra-help session witnessed Chism become heated. “She said that at some point, Ms. Ritzer mentioned Tennessee. She said that Philip became visibly upset after she mentioned Tennessee,” LaBarge wrote in the document. “She said that Ms. Ritzer became aware that Philip was getting upset about her talking about Tennessee. She said that Ms. Ritzer later changed the topic.’’
However, the student told police that the change of subject did not appear to help Chism calm down, and she observed him “apparently talking to himself in the classroom.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodget said: “The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts. This is the first step in a long process to secure justice for Ms. Ritzer and her family.”
The gruesome details of the murder case have left members of the small Massachusetts town unnerved. Chism’s peers described him as quiet and well-liked. He was also said to be a top player on his school’s junior varsity soccer team.
“I’m really shocked,” Colin Butler, a 17-year-old senior at Danvers, told the Boston Herald. “No one would have even thought of that before … Extremely inhumane — that’s all I can think of. I don’t think anyone would have even fathomed that. No one had any idea of that. None of us, it never even crossed our minds.”
“It’s unreal that [Philip] would do something like that,” Jessica DiPietro, a freshman and a student of Ritzer’s, told the Globe. “It’s unbelievable. I cannot even process into words why he would do something like that. It’s devastating.”
“I wish I could say that you could tell that [Philip] was someone who would do something like that, but I can’t,” 14-year-old freshman Andrew Poland added. “I don’t know what snapped in him to do this.”
Chism will face the first-degree murder charge as an adult, but the rape and robbery indictments charged him as a juvenile offender. Chism’s defense attorney, Denise Regan, declined to comment on the indictments, according to the Globe.
Jill covers a little bit of everything for IBTimes, from U.S. and World News to Pop Culture. She is a lifelong New Yorker, and holds her bachelors in Media & Culture from...