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Tuesday, May 2, 2023

The Philip Chism Murder Case

     Colleen Ritzer, a 2011 magna cum laude graduate of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, taught ninth grade math in Danvers, a suburban town of 26,000, 20 miles northeast of Boston. The 24-year-old teacher lived in Andover with her siblings and parents. She was working toward a masters degree in school counseling at Salem State University.

     On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, when a Danvers school ninth-grader named Philip D. Chism missed his four o'clock soccer practice and didn't show up for a junior varsity team dinner, members of the team went looking for him. Philip and his 34-year-old mother Diana had moved to the Boston area from Tennessee at the start of the school year. That evening she reported him missing. Investigators learned that at six-thirty that night Philip Chism was seen leaving the Hollywood Hits movie theater in Danvers.

     That Tuesday night, Colleen Ritzer's parents reported her missing when she didn't return home from school and wasn't answering her cellphone. Danvers police officers, in searching the high school for Ritzer, found splashes of blood in the second-floor student girl's restroom. A short time later, around midnight, officers found Ritzer's body in a patch of woods behind the school's athletic fields. She had been stabbed and slashed to death with a sharp instrument.

     A review of surveillance camera footage showed Philip Chism using what appeared to be a recycling bin--a blue, plastic garbage can on wheels, to move the dead woman into the nearby woods. About the time officers found the body behind the school police officers in the town of Topsfield just north of Danvers spotted Chism walking along Route 1.

     Chism told his interrogators that he was in Colleen Ritzer's algebra class held during the school's final period. Because he had been doodling instead of paying attention that day, she asked him to stay after class. At 3:30 he followed her into the students' restroom. (The faculty bathroom had been occupied. One of the school's 200 surveillance cameras caught Chism, as he followed the teacher into the restroom. He was seen putting on a pair of white gloves.)

     Inside the girl's restroom Chism punched the teacher in the face then slit her throat with a box cutter. After the killing he used the recycling bin to transport the body outside the building into the woods behind the sprawling campus. Police found the garbage can 100 feet from the corpse. It had been pushed over an embankment.

     After murdering Colleen Ritzer, Chism changed his bloody clothes, ate at a Wendy's restaurant, then walked to the movie theater where he watched the Woody Allen film, "Blue Jasmine." He paid for the fast food and the movie with a credit card.
 
     Classmates described the tall, athletic student as quiet and shy. Some of his classmates labeled him antisocial and strange. He was a good student and the leading scorer on the junior varsity soccer team.

     The district attorney of Essex County charged Philip Chism as an adult with assault and murder. At the boy's October 23, 2013 arraignment in a Salem district court the student pleaded not guilty.

     According to court documents in Tennessee, Diana, the boy's mother, married Stacy Chism in September 1998 when she was 19 and he was 23. Philip was born four months later. A year later, Diana gave birth to a girl. She filed for divorce in March 2001, but three months later the couple reconciled. Not long after that they separated again.

      On October 26, 2013, through her attorney, Diana Chism issued a statement expressing sorrow for the Ritzer family.

     Philip Chism, as an inmate awaiting his trial at the Department of Youth Services facility in Dorchester, Massachusetts, had trouble conforming to the institutions rules and regulations. For one thing, he refused to attend classes. As a result he spent his mornings and afternoons sitting at a table in the facility's main room. A staff member posted at a station behind a low wall kept an eye on inmates in the large open room. Behind the observation station an employee-only hallway led to a locker room that featured a bathroom.

     On June 2, 2014, a 29-year-old female corrections officer, a member of the staff who had known Chism for several months, got up from her post and walked down the hallway to the locker room. The 15-year-old rose to his feet, kicked off his sandals and in a crouched position to avoid detection moved  quietly toward the hallway.

     When the staffer came out of the restroom Chism grabbed her by the neck with both hands and started choking her. She managed to remove his right hand which allowed her to scream for help. Before other members of the staff came to her aid Chism punched the woman several times in the face.

     Charged with attempted murder by strangulation, Chism, on July 23, 2014, appeared in a Suffolk County Court for his arraignment. The judge set his bail at $250,000. His attorney had nothing to say to reporters.

     On March 3, 2015, following legal arguments pursuant to an evidentiary hearing in Essex County District Court in anticipation of Philip Chism's murder trial, Judge David Lowy ruled that the defendant's confession at the Danvers police station had been coerced and was therefore inadmissible evidence. The judge did allow into evidence the bloody box cutter and other key pieces of physical evidence. Also allowed into evidence were the items seized from Chism's pockets and backpack. This evidence included the murder victim's identification, credit cards and a pair of her underwear.

     The Coleen Ritzer murder trial, scheduled for October 17, 2015, was delayed after a judge ordered Chism to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine if he was mentally competent to stand trial.

     On November 2, 2015, at the start of his mental competence hearing, Chism refused to enter the courtroom, banged his head against the floor and told a psychologist he heard voices and hoped that someone would shoot him. The next day the judge ruled Chism mentally unfit to stand trial.

     In February 2016, Philip Chism went on trial for the murder, rape and robbery of Coleen Ritzer. After the jury found him guilty as charged, Superior Court Judge David Lowry sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years. He was also sentenced to a 40-year prison term for the rape and robbery. Under the terms of these sentences, Chism would remain behind bars for at least 40 years. He would not be free before he reached the age of 54.

     In Massachusetts, a juvenile who commits first-degree murder cannot be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. The victim's family in the Chism case criticized that law.

18 comments:

  1. Hey Jim. You left out the part that he raped her in the bathroom before slitting her throat with the box cutter. He again sexually assaulted her when the body was transported by garbage can to the woods - using a branch or stick. How could those two key acts of crime be left out of a “true crime” blog? This kid deserves no less than the death penalty that was pre planned and acted upon. He is truly evil.

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  2. In these cases the parents should be held partially responsible. You don't raise someone who turns out that way unless you did something terribly wrong. His mother wasn't even surprised her son had killed someone. She actually guessed that much in the police station. As a child of an abusive family, I say stick the Mom in the gut and let her bleed out on camera so the next parent speaks up before her son does something so evil. Mothers get a pass from society all too often whereas it is they who form first attachment bond. It's time the bitches get called out on how their bitch attitude turns babies into monsters.

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    2. Let's focus on his Dad. He is the problem. No role model.

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    4. We have no way of knowing what or who turned this child into a monster. It may not have been the Mom. Attachment disorders are very common yet most do not become monsters. His father may have abused him & he may have rage against his mother for not rescuing him. It may have been a daycare worker, a teacher, a scout leader. We don’t know. It is a sad situation but this boy who killed & raped at 14 was never normal & cannot in all likelihood be cured or rehabilitated. There is no normal to go back to. It’s a shame he didn’t turn his rage on the person who abused him.

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  3. Parents are not responsible for all the acts of their teenage children. People act as though children are born into this world as mini-me's without minds and wills of their own. After a certain age children become their own person and they have a mind of their own. They make their own choices and the consequences are also their own. That is one of the problems with society today everyone wants to play the "blame game" and no one wants to be responsible for themselves or accountable for their actions.

    This young man had the presence of mind to stalk, rape, and murder his teacher, therefore, he is not a child. It is only in America that we see 14 year old young adults as little children, when clearly they are not. His actions are his own, they do not belong to his parents. No parent can predict the future, you raise your children and you hope for the best.

    If his parents are to blame, then are ALL the parents of drug addicts, rapist, murderers, etc to blame also? That's ridiculous. Parents give birth to human beings, and those human beings develop a mind of their own. It's not the parents fault.

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    1. Amen to that. Can't always blame the parents for the actions of their children. They are taught right from wrong and we hope they get it. There is evil in everyone to some point, some just act on it worse then others. He is a very disturbed, evil person.

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  4. Wow. Just learned about this case but the article did not say that he tried to strangle another woman. It did say his lawyer says yes he did it but he had a psychotic break. Sorry but this murder looked planned to me. Apparently before he followed the victim in the toilets he put on gloves. If that is not planned? Danger to all women. Should never be set free or able to flee

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  5. PHILIP CHISM IS A MONSTER. he is evil and should get life imprisonment for his litany of crimes against colleen ritzer.

    CHISM is a SEXUAL PSYCHOPATH. he attempted to murder a female staff person at the juvenile facility in 2014.

    I do think his cunt of a mother Diana chism, should be hit with a wrongful death suit by the ritzer family. HER SON IS A MINOR SO SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS BEHAVIOR until the age of 18.

    I hope chism dies in prison at the hands of an inmate. since he does not respect human life, then he should forfeit his good for nothing life, and die a painful death behind bars.

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  6. He probably started out abusing animals.

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  7. So, what his condition today/now?

    regretting his action or become worsen with the influence inside the prison?

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    1. He most likely has no conscience & only regrets being caught. He probably spends his days planning the perfect murder to avoid making the same mistakes that got him caught. He isn’t stupid & he isn’t insane. He probably has antisocial, psychopathic personality disorder. That will never change.

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  8. It would be interesting to know what happened in Tennessee. I bet he had quite a history. And why was Tennessee a trigger word? Somebody ruined this child but I would never trust him as long as he lives. Animal abuse, younger child abuse etc. It never starts with murder. They say Ted Bundy murdered his 8 year old cousin when he was 14 & was protected by his grandmother who lied for him. We know how he turned out.

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  9. As a parent I understand I have a responsibility not only to my children but to society itself. I am fortunate to have a positive parent experience with our children. As a mother, you know your children better than anyone else on the planet. However, there are people who become parents who have no clue what to do (which is probably a generational issue); if a mother/father has any sense at all and you realize something is off, YOU GET HELP, CALL A DOCTOR, ASK THE SCHOOL OR DAYCARE ABOUT SERVICES YOU COULD ASK QUESTIONS. If your child is unnecessarily aggressive or mean or anything that is difficult, you must seek help.

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  10. Did he become "worse" in prison?? No, I doubt the rapist, murdering violent psychopath became worse. Just a guess.

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