Monday, October 28, 2013

Philip Chism's Mother Broken Hearted... Town and Students Mourn


Mourning: Hundreds of students, parents and fellow teachers attended the memorial service for Colleen Ritzer in Danvers Wednesday night
 Mourning: Hundreds of students, parents and fellow teachers attended the memorial
service for Colleen Ritzer in Danvers Wednesday night

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.'


CHISM'S FORMER GIRLFRIEND
School sweetheart: Hannah Walker (center) and Philip Chism were extremely close before he left for Massachusetts with his family
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. Chism 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.
Walker says she and Chism became friends in sixth grade. They became close over  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."  Walker says she was heartbroken when Chism left Tennessee.  Before he left, Chism told Walker that he loved her.

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.

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 a 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."

 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
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 theater 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. He has told officers every detail of how he killed Ritzer, but he is refusing to give any reason why he attacked the beloved teacher. He has apparently remained 'stone cold', showing very little emotion. Officers from Danver Police department are working on a couple of theories, one of which is that Chism was infatuated with 24 year old Ritzer. Investigators are trying to determine whether Chism may have attacked her because she spurned his unwelcome advances. But Chism will neither confirm or deny this theory.

Classmates have revealed 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.A 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."
"He pretty much told us everything about how it happened and with the help of cameras around the campus we were able to build up a plausible picture of events."
"He 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, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon to answer charges
 that he beat and stabbed 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
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

"We 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."
"One 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."
"That 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 Miss 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."

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.
Later, 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.  When Miss Ritzer failed to return home her parents informed police. Officers then went to the school, where they found a second-floor bathroom
 covered in blood.    

Chism may have stolen the weapon from art class while hanging around after school. Classmate Kara Behen, 14, said that Chism had been acting strangely lately.
" The last couple of weeks he like totally faded out," she said.
 
Other students, who played soccer with 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.  

A police source speculated, " Ritzer was a very friendly, approachable teacher and it is possible he completely misread her affable nature and made some kind of advance towards her."
"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 plan 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. 
"Unfortunately, it is fairly common these days. Everyone is on their guard to make sure that doesn't happen."

The chain of events on Tuesday  is still being worked out and police are still trying to determine the order of Chism's actions from the time school ended around 4:00 pm and his arrest just after midnight. The manager of the theater, where Chism went to see a movie directly after the murder, told the Boston Globe that Chism sat alone during the movie - he was the only one in the theater for the 4.30 pm show Tuesday.

Police in neighboring Topsfield picked up the missing teen about 12.30 am 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.
His family was in the courtroom during his arraignment and his mother could be seen sobbing in the gallery.


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
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

Stunned parents attended a meeting at Danvers High School where police and school 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 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 that, although  the school is open, the bathroom where Colleen Ritzer was slain will be closed for the 'foreseeable future'. And he said 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."
 
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.


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
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


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
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
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
Danvers High School students prepare to launch sky lanterns during a candlelight vigil
to mourn the death of Colleen Ritzer

"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.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Philip was emotionally abused since he was young. He was connected to his friends in Tennessee and has a girlfriend there. His mother ripped him away from his connectedness and it was very painful for him. I doubt it was a sexual act for Philip because he loved Hannah. I think he had a break with reality and possibly even re-inacted abuse he'd seen before that wounded him emotionally. I think that the reason he isn't saying the motive is either because he doesn't know or it's too painful or shameful. Regardless, he was in a moment or time of temporary insanity and needs counseling not punishment. If he was evil than yes punishment. But this person was "faded out" for the immediate time prior and he is emotionally "cold" because he is in emotional shock. He should NOT be tried as an adult. His prior history of his good behavior and his history of long-standing emotional abuse would mitigate any reason for trying him as an adult. Also, I suspect he is emotionally much younger than his chronical age of 14.

Anonymous said...

This indeed is a tragedy for both families. I am from Clarksville Tn. I knew Phillip's father Stacy Chism very well. I remember seeing Phillip and his sister with their mother when they were little. She seemed to love her children very much. I don't know what could have happened to Phillip but I sincerely hope that everyone remembers that he may be tall in size but he is still a child and obviously he is a child that needs help.