SALEM, Mass. — The body of a popular Massachusetts teacher who police say was killed by one of her students was found in the woods, naked from the waist down and with her throat slit and a note that read, “I hate you all,” according to court documents released Friday.
The search warrant application was released after requests by The Associated Press, The Boston Globe and other media organizations.
Philip Chism, a 14-year-old soccer player who moved from Clarksville, Tenn., at the beginning of the school year, is charged with murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in the Oct. 22 death of 24-year-old Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer. His attorney, Denise Regan, said Friday she had no comment. He is being held without bail.
Police have not released a motive. Autopsy results have not been made public.
A student whose name was concealed in the documents told police that the day of the killing, she had stayed after class for help and heard Ritzer and Chism talking.
Ritzer mentioned Tennessee, and Chism appeared upset, but the teacher didn’t appear to notice and kept talking about it. When Ritzer did notice, she changed the subject, but the student noticed Chism talking to himself.
According to the documents, surveillance video showed Chism putting on gloves and wearing a hood as he followed Ritzer into a bathroom. The documents say he brought a box cutter, mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing to school that day.
Ritzer was reported missing when she never returned home. Her body was found on the ground in woods near the school, partly covered in leaves, and police said it appeared to be sexually positioned. Authorities say she had been sexually assaulted with a stick. A recycling barrel was nearby.
A timeline in the documents that’s based on surveillance video indicates a student may have seen part of the crime. As Chism and Ritzer are apparently in the bathroom together, a female student walks in, then quickly walks out. The student later said a person with dark skin appeared to be changing clothes. Chism is biracial; Ritzer was white.
One minute later, Chism walks out of the bathroom wearing a hood over his head. Nine minutes after that, he pulls a recycling barrel into the bathroom, then through the school and outside.
Chism, who had been spotted at a movie theater after the killing, was found walking along a highway in a neighboring town around 12:30 a.m. A police officer looked in his backpack and found a bloodstained box cutter, according to the documents.
Asked where it came from, Chism replied, “The girl.”
He also had Ritzer’s credit cards and driver’s license. He said he found them at a supermarket, then said he got them out of Ritzer’s car.
Police questioned his mother, who told them that the family had recently moved from Tennessee and that it had been a stressful divorce. No one answered the door Friday at the Danvers home where Chism lived with his mother, two siblings and an aunt.
The search warrant documents list items taken from the house by police, including a Dell computer, papers, two memory cards and two USB drives.
Court records indicate Chism’s parents had difficulties early in their marriage. In a parenting plan included in 2001 divorce papers, his mother, Diana, insisted on supervising any time her husband, Stacy, had with their son and a younger daughter. She cited “prior physical and emotional abuse as well as alcohol abuse” by her husband. Both adults signed the papers.
The divorce was apparently never finalized after both parents signed an order stating they wanted to attempt to reconcile.
Shortly after the killing, Diana Chism released a statement through her son’s public defender saying she was heartbroken for Ritzer’s family.