January 30

Teen charged in Mass. teacher killing appears in court

Authorities allege that the 15-year-old raped and killed Colleen Ritzer after she asked him to stay after school for extra help.

The Associated Press

SALEM, Mass. — A 15-year-old Massachusetts boy charged with killing his math teacher pleaded not guilty Thursday to a second charge of raping her.

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Phillip Chism, 15, from Danvers, Mass., is led into the courtroom at his arraignment on a second charge of rape in Salem Superior Court in Salem, Mass., Thursday.

The Associated Press

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Colleen Ritzer

Phillip Chism, shackled at the feet, stood with his head bowed in Salem Superior Court as the judge read the latest charge against him in connection with the killing of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer.

About two dozen people attended the brief hearing, including members of Ritzer’s family, who left without commenting. Chism’s attorney, Denise Regan, declined to comment after the hearing.

Ritzer, a math teacher, was found dead in the woods near the school in October. Her throat was slit and a note reading, “I hate you all” was found at the scene.

Authorities said Chism, then 14, killed Ritzer with a box cutter he had taken to school after she asked him to stay after for help. He had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of rape, robbery and murder.

In court documents released last week, state police said Chism confessed to killing Ritzer, but denied sexually assaulting her.

According to the documents, Chism made the statements while being interviewed at the Danvers Police Station, after waiving his Miranda rights.

The first rape charge accused Chism of sexually assaulting Ritzer with a stick. The second charge, filed last week, alleges he forcibly had sexual intercourse with her.

Court documents released in November describe surveillance video showing Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom with gloves and a hood. Footage also shows Chism carrying a recycling bin into the bathroom, then dragging it out behind the building. The recycling bin was found near Ritzer’s body, police said.

A hard drive of the school’s surveillance footage was submitted as evidence before the court hearing Thursday.

Attorneys discussed whether Chism will be charged as a juvenile or adult offender on the new rape count. A decision is expected by early March.

A pretrial hearing is set for April 7.

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