Almost eight years ago, Boston lost a kind and gentle soul. The city is still in grave sadness upon losing such a passionate and energetic young woman, a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, and beloved teacher.
Colleen Ritzer dedicated her whole life to her family and teaching. Her dream and passion were teaching. She wanted to educate people around her. Ritzer’s story inspired a lot of people. Ritzer was a selfless girl who always wanted good for the people around her.
Colleen Ritzer was teaching Algebra in Danvers High School in Boston. All her students loved her as she urged her students to get extra help from her even after school hours.
A student aged 14-year old was held guilty of raping and murdering his Algebra teacher Colleen Ritzer aged 24-year old and dumped her body in the woods.
Philip Chism, a standout player on the school’s junior varsity soccer team, was considered a kind boy by his classmates. The heinous crime was held on October 22, 2013, at Danvers High School, United States.
How did Philip Chism and Colleen Ritzer meet?
Philip Chism, who had just moved to Boston from Tennessee, was new in the school, so Colleen Ritzer asked him to stay after the lecture to help him catch up with the syllabus.
After the lecture, one more student and Chism stayed in school, and he noticed that Chism became quite annoyed with Ritzer’s conversation at some points. On seeing Chism’s angry mood, Ritzer changed the topic and tried to make him calm.
He was new in the school, and he was also dealing with his parent’s divorce. He seemed pretty traumatized after his parent’s stressful separation. Most likely, he got upset when Ritzer asked Chism about his family.
Execution of murder:
Around 3 o’clock, Ritzer went to the restroom. After some time, Chism followed her towards the restroom. Chism was wearing a hood and mostly covered his face. After going to the restroom, Chism put gloves on his hands, drew a sharp box cutter from his pocket, and stabbed and slit Ritzer’s throat 16 times, and then he raped her while strangling her. The attack was most likely to be seen, but the student assumed someone was changing in there.
After attempting the core-wrenching crime, Chism left the restroom very casually with his hands covered in blood. After some time, he rolled a trash can to the restroom, where Ritzer’s lifeless body was lying on the floor. Chism put her body in the trash can and left the premises to dump the body in the nearby forest.
He staged her body under the pile of leaves in a sexually violating way by spreading her legs, and her shirt pulled up and stuck a three-fork tree branch in her body. He left a chilling note near his teacher’s body saying, “I hate you all”.
Ritzer and Philip go missing:
Ritzer didn’t come home after school, and her phone was unanswered. She was reported missing on Tuesday, and Chism also disappeared. At this point, two people from the same school were reported missing.
Police started their investigation from the crime scene, which was the restroom all covered in blood. With the help of the school’s security cameras, police were able to identify Chism as a suspect involved in the crime.
Chism’s crime involved a lot of loopholes, and one thing led to another police being able to solve the puzzle and started their investigation and found Ritzer’s body in a nearby forest. The body was sent to the laboratory for autopsy. And the police started searching for the keen suspect of the case, who was none other than Philip Chism.
Investigation showed that the murder was planned as Chism carried a box-cutter, gloves, and multiple clothing changes in his school bag pack on October 22, 2013.
After killing Ritzer, Chism walked into the hallway very calmly and changed his clothes. He also talked to some of his fellows while searching for the trash can. After 10 minutes, he came back, rolling the trash can in the restroom.
Killer’s attitude after attempting heinous act:
Soon after attempting the heinous crime, Chism went to Bj’s wholesale club to buy a drink. He was very calm after the whole act as if nothing had happened. He was accused of using Ritzer’s credit cards to have lunch at Wendy’s and then went to movies not far from his home, where he lives with his mother and two siblings.
With the help of Ritzer’s phone location, which was also in possession of Chism, police tracked down Chism while he was walking down the road after watching a movie.
After searching Chism, police found Ritzer’s underwear, credit cards, phone, car keys and the bloody box-cutter. He was held guilty for raping, robbing and murdering his teacher.
- Chism’s bag contained a bloody box cutter, Ritzer’s credit cards, and underwear.
- Trash can: found twenty yards away from the corpse.
- Blood-stained gloves that Chism wore while slitting Ritzer’s throat.
- The blood-stained sleeveless shirt which Ritzer was wearing when she was brutally murdered.
- CCTV footage from Danvers High School.
- A note found near Ritzer’s body.
- Autopsy reports.
In 2016, Chism was brought to court as an adult charged with the first-degree murder of her Algebra teacher Ritzer.
Chism’s lawyers claimed that their client was not stable and attempted the heinous while dealing with mental illness. He wasn’t in his senses at the time of the crime. A physiatrist appeared on behalf of Chism and said that he was having hallucinations and hearing voices at the crime time.
The autopsy report concluded shivering details of the incident, which says: that Ritzer was stabbed 16 times in the neck and was sexually violated with an object. The prosecution concluded that:
“This was sexually motivated homicide”.
The pathologist said that there were two causes of death:
- 16 stab wounds on the neck
Three stabs were so sharp that they could have ruptured the major blood vessels. It’s not possible to tell what caused the death. The pathologist said that Ritzer might have survived the strangulation if she was not stabbed in the neck.
Chism’s defence attorney asked the jury to dismiss theft charges but was denied because Chsim had Ritzer’s belongings when the police found him. He was charged under all three:
- Felony murder
The district attorney asked that the teen be given a 50-year sentence, but justice asked for less. Chism looked straight ahead and didn’t give any visible reaction as the courts read the findings. Chism mother left the court soon after the hearing started.
For now, life without parole is the state’s most severe penalty. It is used for the criminals involved in first-degree murder because Chism was 14 years old at the time of the crime in 2013. The court didn’t give him the death penalty but was announced a 40-year sentence. It also means that he can file release from jail.
In loving memory of Colleen Ritzer:
After the hearing, Colleen’s family said that the outcomes mark a new phase in their lives and wish to honour their 24-year old daughter Colleen Ritzer’s legacy.
“We are devastated and heartbroken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen Ritzer”said Thomas Ritzer, Colleen Ritzer’s father
The family will be constantly reminded of the acts done to their daughter by Chism.
Colleen’s mother said that Chism is not worthy of being called. Peggie Ritzer said that:
“I used to see the glass half full, now I isolate myself from the people I love.”
“The idea of being happy is very difficult”.
Peggie Ritzer said about Philip Chism that:
“He is pure evil, and evil can never be rehabilitated. Colleen and our family will never get a second chance, and neither should he.”
“Today, the good must prevail over the evil. You have to remember that Colleen matters,”Peggie Ritzer said.
The victim’s family released a statement after the court’s decision:
“This is wrong. Don’t do it to the families. Don’t do it,” he said. “Think about what you are doing to the victim’s families and what they have to go through.”
“We haven’t and we purposely haven’t, [we’ve been] waiting for the right reason to do so. And this is right reason to do so,”Peggie Ritzer said while speaking to the media.
Their message is evident that we can’t get our loving daughter, Colleen Ritzer, back, but in front of the United States law, the killer’s life is more important than the victim’s.
“She could light up a room, she gave me hope when I didn’t believe in myself. She gave me faith things would work out”said Colleen Ritzer’s sister Laura Ritzer.
Ritzer’s parents and siblings remember her and miss her a lot. They claim that she was very kind and gentle. She didn’t deserve to die in brutality and cruelty.
In loving memory of Colleen Ritzer, hundreds of students and teachers do candlelight vigil in the parking lot of Danvers High School. Ritzer was very fond of pink colour so many wore pink to give her tribute. They sang and prayed in the vigil and, after that, put their candles, stuffed animals and flowers in front of Ritzer’s smiling picture.
Colleen Ritzer (1989-2013) forever.