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More from News
- Diana Chism speaks for the first time since son Philip Chism was arrested and charged on Wednesday for the murder of Colleen Ritzer, who was 'slashed to death with a box cutter' in the bathroom at Danvers High School, Massachusette
- Says her son was 'born in love' and hopes for 'prayers for the Ritzer family, the Danvers community, for her son and all those affected by this tragedy'
- Follows interview with Chism's former girlfriend, who said she cannot believe he could have killed his teacher and that he was never 'the guy to get angry'
- Classmate says Ritzer made Chism stay late after class Tuesday because he was doodling in his notebook
- Danvers High School students returned to school for the first time since the killing on Friday before town held a candle-lit vigil for Ritzer
By Will Payne In Danvers, Massachusetts, Michael Zennie and Alex Greig
PUBLISHED: 12:21 EST, 26 October 2013 | UPDATED: 06:48 EST, 27 October 2013
The mother of the Massachusetts teenager accused of killing his teacher inside a school bathroom says she is brokenhearted over the educator's death and seeks prayers for her son.
Diana Chism also asked for prayers for the family of slain Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, saying her 'heart is broken for the Ritzer family and the loss of their daughter and sister', in a statement released by her son's attorney.
Fourteen-year-old Philip Chism is being held without bail on charges he killed Ritzer after school Tuesday, then dumped her body in the woods behind the school.
'Ms. Chism would like you to know that her son was born in love and is dear to her, very dear,' said the statement released by defense attorney Denise Regan.
'She asks that you know that she cares for the world's hurt over this and greatly hopes for your prayers for the Ritzer family, the Danvers community, for her son, and all those affected by this tragedy.'
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Student turned on teacher: Philip Chism (left) is the main suspect in the murder of math teacher Colleen Ritzer (right) who was found stabbed to death and ditched behind their school in Danvers, Massachusetts
School sweetheart: Hannah Walker (center) and Philip Chism were extremely close before he left for Massachusetts with his family
On Friday a former girlfriend of Chism expressed her shock at the teen's alleged slaying of Ritzer.
dated 14-year-old Hannah Walker in his hometown of Clarkesville,
Tennessee. Chism moved with his family to Danvers, Massachussetts in
July this year.
As students from Danvers High School returned to class for the first time since the slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, Walker described the boy she knew.
'I know people are like, "You’re only in middle school, you’re too young for love." But I fell in love with him over a long period of time,' she told the Boston Globe.
'He lit me up, honestly.'
Walker says she and Chism became friends in sixth grade. They became close of the period of a year and walked home together every day.
She would steal his hat so that he'd come looking for it and once, they danced in the rain after they got off the school bus.
'I remember it like it was yesterday,' she told the Boston Globe.
Walker says she was heartbroken when Chism left Tennessee.
According to neighbors, Chism was traumatized by the move and had maintained hope that his mother would change her mind even as she drove him and his sister north in her van.
The Boston Globe reports that Chism was well-known around his Clarkesville neighborhood, had a lot of friends and could often be found playing soccer or basketball or riding his skateboard.
Young love: Walker (right) says that before he left for Massachusetts, Chism told her he loved her
Despite his reluctance to leave, students at Danvers High School report that Chism had settled into student life, doing well academically and excelling as a leading scorer on the school soccer team.
Chism's uncle, Terence Chism Blaine, says he doesn't believe his nephew could have killed Ritzer.
'They probably have mistaken identity. I believe what will happen is they will clear him of these charges,' he told the Boston Globe.
Walker concurs: 'Philip has never been the guy to get angry. He takes all his anger out on his skateboarding. Someone doesn’t just wake up one day and say, "I’m gonna kill my teacher."'
Before he left, Chism told Walker that he loved her.
Records show that Chism's parents had separated and had filed for divorce when he was two years old.
The divorce agreement states that his father, Stacy Chism, was to have restricted access to his children due to 'physical abuse, sexual abuse, or a pattern of emotional abuse.'
Stacy Chism is believed to live in Florida and has not been in contact with his son for some time.
Students who returned to school for the first time on Friday told the Boston Globe that Chism was a quiet student who did well at school.
The absence of their well-liked math teacher Ritzer weighed heavily on Danvers students.
Olivia Perez, 14, a student in Ritzer’s algebra class, said she held back tears most of the day.
'It was just so hard not seeing her,' she told the Boston Globe.
New home: Philip Chism and his mother recently moved into this home in Danvers, Massachusetts from Clarkesville, Tennessee, a place Chism was extremely reluctant to leave
Meanwhile, police are saying that Philip Chism 'completely planned' the murder of his teacher Colleen Ritzer.
The teenage soccer star even brought a
spare set of clothes into class so he could change and dump his
bloodstained outfit to avoid detection when he made his trip to a local
cinema and Wendy's restaurant.
He was caught on security camera at the Hollywood Hits movie theater soon after 4pm on Tuesday wearing a clean sweat suit. Police found his discarded clothes and the box cutter knife used in the attack hidden in woods near Danvers High School and now have them as evidence.
Sources have revealed Chism has been
'completely co-operative' with the investigation, telling officers
every detail of how he killed Ritzer, but he is refusing to give any
reason why he attacked the beloved maths teacher.
He has apparently remained 'stone cold', showing very little emotion.
from Danvers Police Department are working on a couple of theories, one
of which is that Chism was infatuated with 24-year-old Ritzer.
The MailOnline revealed yesterday that investigators are trying to determine whether Chism may have attacked her because she spurned his unwelcome advances. But he will apparently not confirm or deny anything.
Classmates have told how Ritzer asked Chism to stay after class after she saw him drawing in his notebook instead of taking notes in the hours before he allegedly killed her.
well-placed police source said: 'When we picked him up wandering around
early on Wednesday night, he was subdued and showed very little
emotion. He was stone cold.
pretty much told us everything about how it happened and with the help
of camera around the campus we were able to build up a very clear
picture of events.
didn't deny anything and did not hold back information. But he would
give absolutely no reason why he did it. There seems to no rhyme or
reason. That is very rare. If someone is going to reveal what they did,
they would usually give a reason, because, however mad their views, they
want people to know what their motive was.
Charged: Philip Chism, 14, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon to answer charges that he beat Ritzer to death. He did not speak during his appearance and will not be released on bail
Charged: Philip Chism, 14, (right) will be charged as an adult in the murder of his teacher. His classmates and family described his as 'nice' and 'quiet' and were shocked by the charges
are obviously working on theories, based on intelligence and intuition,
but until he actually tells us what was going on in his head, it will
be incredibly hard to give a definitive answer.
thing we do think is that this was completely planned. He brought a
change of clothes with him into school and changed after the attack. He
dumped the body, his original clothes and the box cutter in the woods.
has all been found and is now evidence in the investigation. It is
incredible to think he did this in the day, when other children were
about. There was soccer practice going on. It is just so strange.
'But we are determined to get to the bottom of this once and for all and bring some closure to this terrible tragedy.'
The Boston Globe reports that the last public interaction between teacher Colleen Ritzer and her killer Philip Chism came when she saw him drawing in class.
Another student recalls seeing Ms Ritzer notice his sketching and she said matter-of-factly: 'I didn't know you could draw.'
Rania Rhaedaoui was in the class and told the paper that Chism just nodded in response.
'There was a test coming up and she wanted to know if he had any questions,' Rania said.
A different student saw the two together an hour after the last class of the day had ended, and she was standing next to him as he was sitting down by her computer.
'It just looked normal, like any other day,' Cambria Cloutier told The Boston Globe.
Chism allegedly followed Colleen into a bathroom in the school then punched her in the face and slashed her throat with a box cutter before stuffing her lifeless body in a recycling bin.
Police sources exclusively revealed to MailOnline that investigators are now looking into the theory that Chism may have had a crush on Ritzer, who was incredibly popular with students because of her friendly, approachable manner.
Honor: The Boston Redsox paused before Game One of the World Series at Fenway Park Wednesday night for a moment of silence to honor Ritzer
A moment's silence was held for Miss Ritzer on Wednesday night before the start of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park in Boston
Mourning: Hundreds of students, parents and fellow teachers attended the memorial service for Colleen Ritzer in Danvers Wednesday night
They are trying to determine whether he killed the dedicated math teacher at Danvers High School because she spurned his inappropriate advances.
Stunned parents have attended a meeting at Danvers High School where police and education authorities tried to reassure them that their children were not in danger in the wake of the murder.
Around one thousand adults turned out for the talk, and MailOnline can reveal they were told to try to sympathize with the parents of suspected murderer Philip Chism, who are facing up to the fact that their son may be a killer.
One parent, Don Thornell explained: 'They told us to keep in mind that essentially two families lost children. You've got to remember that to his parents, he is still their kid. He is involved in a terrible tragedy, but he is still their kid. You have to sympathize with them. They must be going through hell at the moment.'
Chief Neil Ouellette of the Danvers Police Department also revealed the school would be open for all children tomorrow, but the bathroom where Colleen Ritzer was slain will be closed for the 'foreseeable future'.
He said: 'We will never recover from the loss of Colleen, but we want to get this community and this school back to some kind of normality.'
Understanding Philip: The 14-year-old had just recently moved to Danvers and was tough to get to know since he was shy and quiet
Horrific: Investigators can be seen here carrying Colleen Ritzer's body from the woods where it was discovered early Wednesday
And he told how safety procedures at the school would be under review in the wake of the tragedy, adding: 'We do critiques and reviews after every major incident, so clearly we will be doing that in this situation.'
Chism may have stolen the weapon from art class after hanging around after school.
Classmate told Kara Behen, 14, Wicked Local that Chism had been acting strangely lately.
'The last couple weeks he like totally faded out,' she said.
Chism has been described as 'quiet' and 'nice' and were shocked by the brutal violence he is accused of inflicting on a much-loved, dedicated teacher.
Tragic: Colleen Ritzer, 24, was found dead behind Danvers High School on Wednesday morning
Other students, who played soccer with accused 14-year-old Chism, said that he was a really nice boy but incredibly shy and hard to get to know.
One said: 'He was nice, but really quiet. No one really knew him that well. Apparently when he was arrested he was unresponsive and barely said anything at all.
'Nothing like this has ever happened in Danvers before. No one can believe what is going on.'
His grandmother, Angelia Chism, said she has not seen Philip in years, but was horrified by the charges.
'We very much want to express our sadness and regret for this,' she told ABC News.
Authorities say they are investigating whether that behavior change could have been a result of Chism's romantic feelings for his teacher.
Chism had recently moved to Danvers from Tennessee and joined the soccer team, where he was the junior varsity squad's leading scorer.
A police source told the MailOnline: 'One of the theories going around is that this boy had a major crush on Colleen.
'She was a very friendly, approachable teacher and it is possible he completely misread her affable nature and made some kind of advance towards her,’ the source said.
'Whether that happened on Tuesday night, or some time before is unclear. Being the professional she was, she would obviously have told him how inappropriate that was. That may have angered him enough to act as some kind of motivation for the attack.
'It is just a theory at present, but seems plausible as there don't seem to be any other explanations as to why he would possibly commit such a senseless crime.'
Another police source said officers were on a heightened state of alert, in case of any copycat attacks.
He said: 'Whenever anything like this happens, you worry there is going to be some kind of copycat incident.
'Unfortunately, it is fairly common these days. Everyone is on their guard to make sure that doesn't happen.'
Colleen, left, is the oldest of three children (pictured here). She still lived with her parents in nearby Andover and was going to graduate school to be a school psychologist
The small Massachusetts town paid tribute to the slain teacher on Wednesday night with hundreds of residents holding a candle-light vigil at the school where she died. Many students dressed in her favorite color pink and described her as a 'brilliant ray of light'.
Tens of thousands of fans at Fenway Park paused for a moment of silence and Ritzer's face flashed on the big screen before the beginning of Game One of the World Series in Boston Wednesday night.
The chain of events on Tuesday is still being worked out, and police are trying to nail down the order of Chism’s actions between the end of school, Ritzer’s death which was thought to be around 4pm and his pick up by police just after midnight.
CNN reports that he then changed his clothes and went to a movie at the local theater. ABC says he saw the Woody Allen film 'Blue Jasmine' which is about a middle-aged woman’s mental breakdown following the suicide of her conniving husband.
The manager of the theater told the Boston Globe he sat alone during the movie - he was the only one in the theater for the 4.30pm show Tuesday.
Ritzer, 24, was reported missing by her family when she didn't come home from school on Tuesday night.
Members of the Danvers High School community hold a candlelight vigil on Wednesday for math teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, who was murdered at Danvers High School on Tuesday night
another at a makeshift memorial for teacher Colleen Ritzer outside the high school where she taught in Danvers, Massachusetts
Danvers High School students prepare to launch sky lanterns during a candlelight vigil to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer
Officers then went to the school, where they found a second-floor bathroom covered in blood.
Police in neighboring Topsfield picked up the missing teen about 12.30am on Wednesday after they discovered him walking along a highway.
Chism was taken to detectives in Danvers where he allegedly led police to the teacher's body behind the school.
The 6’2” teenager appeared in court on Wednesday afternoon where he was charged as an adult in Miss Ritzer's murder. He is now being held without bail.
The boy's attorney entered a plea of not guilty and requested a mental health evaluation for the boy and suggested she would argue that he was not mentally competent to stand trial. He was held without bail following the arraignment in Salem District Court.
family was in the courtroom during his arraignment and a woman believed
to be his mother could be seen sobbing in the gallery.
'YOU MATTER': THE CHEERFUL MATH TEACHER WHO TRIED TO INSPIRE
Colleen Ritzer was a beloved math teacher at Danvers High School, and in talking to her former students and friends, it is clear that she went above and beyond to excite her students about the subject.
Her Twitter feed, which she used to communicate lessons to her students said: 'Math teacher often too excited about the topics I'm teaching.'
Ritzer graduated with high honors and was attending graduate school. Her students say she was dedcated
'She was a very, very, respected, loved teacher. It’s a terrible tragedy for the entire Danvers community,' Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.
She lived with her mother and father in nearby Andover. Her family issued a statement saying: 'At this time we are mourning the tragic death of our amazing daughter and sister.
'Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion, her teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students.'
Chris Weimert, 17, was a student in Ritzer’s geometry class last year. He said she had taught at the school for two years and was a warm, welcoming person who would stand outside her classroom and say hello to students she didn’t teach.
'She was the nicest teacher anyone could ever have. She always had a warm smile on her face,' he said.
Weimert said the suspect, who he knew from seeing him around school, 'seemed like a good kid'.
He said, 'It really threw the whole town of Danvers a curve ball.'
Students immediately tweeted tributes to their teacher.
'The sign on ms ritzer's white board that said "You matter." Made my day, everyday. This is so surreal #RIP,' one student tweeted.
'There was no teacher like Ms. Ritzer, she was a role model, and nothing but positive. Rest easy, you will never be forgotten,' student Emily McPherson wrote.
Ritzer was in her second year as a teacher at Danvers High School. She was also studying for a Masters degree at Salem State University.
Miss Ritzer is the second math teacher killed at school by a student this week. Michael Landsberry, who taught eighth grade math, was gunned down Monday by a 12-year-old student after he tried to stop a shooting rampage at Sparks Middle School in Nevada.