The Herald Bulletin

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October 25, 2013

Classmate: Accused Massachusetts teen stayed after school

DANVERS, Mass. — A teacher who was allegedly killed by one of her students had asked him to stay after school the day she was killed, a classmate said Thursday, as students met with grief counselors and tried to come to grips with the slaying of the popular teacher.

Philip Chism, 14, was charged with murder Wednesday in the death of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher at Danvers High School.

Rania Rhaddaoui sat two seats away from Chism in Ritzer's Algebra I class, the final class of the school day. She said Chism was drawing in a notebook rather than taking notes Tuesday.

"She came over and said, 'I didn't know you draw,' and he said, 'yes,' then later on, she said, 'Can you stay after with me?'" Rhaddaoui said. "Obviously, he stayed after because when I was leaving, he was still at his desk."

She said Ritzer had scheduled a test for Friday, but she was unsure why exactly Ritzer asked Chism to stay after school.

Ritzer never returned home that day. Blood in a second-floor bathroom helped lead investigators to her body, which was dumped in the woods behind the school in a close-knit community about 20 miles north of Boston.

Chism was picked up by police in the early morning hours Wednesday, walking along Route 1 in neighboring Topsfield. His attorney declined to comment outside court Wednesday and did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

The high school remained closed for classes Thursday, but grief counselors were on hand to offer comfort to students.

Kaitlyn Nash, 16, went to the school to be with her friends. She said students who knew and loved Ritzer were still trying to make sense of what happened. She said she found it particularly frightening that she had theater rehearsal Tuesday afternoon and was at the school when authorities believe Ritzer was killed.

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