14-Year-Old Student Accused in Horrific Killing of Popular Young Teacher

school A young math teacher goes missing the same night as a 14-year-old student at her school. The 14-year-old is found later that night walking down the side of a busy commercial street. The young math teacher is also found, dead, on the grounds behind her school. It's like the beginning of a deeply upsetting mystery film. Only it isn't fiction. It's real life.

Twenty-four-year-old Colleen Ritzer, a math teacher in Massachusetts, was killed, her body left not far from the school where she had spent most of her days enthusiastically sharing her passion for math. Her Twitter bio describes her as a "Math teacher often too excited about the topics I'm teaching." The dearth of teachers truly passionate about their calling makes Ritzer's senseless death all the most devastating.

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The police were called when Ritzer did not return home from work on Tuesday night. Across town, the parents of a missing teenager were equally frantic, looking for their son who never came home from school. When the police arrived at the high school to look for Ritzer, what they saw spelled disaster: Blood, easily spotted, in the first-floor bathroom. It wasn't long before they found Ritzer herself.

While what happened in that school still remains unknown, the police confirmed that the same teenage boy reported missing had been picked up. 14-year old Philip Chism is now being held as a suspect in Colleen Ritzer's death. If the boy is responsible, this presents us with more questions than it does answers.

What could have driven the boy to murder? What boundaries were crossed that this could happen? Schools should be the safest places there are. But they just aren't. At least, not lately. This is just one more example of the violence that seems to have become almost commonplace in their halls. Clearly something went terribly wrong if a crime so horrific could take place.

What can schools do to protect their students and their teachers who are still on school grounds even after the bell's rung?

 *UPDATE: The student, Philip Chism, has been formally arraigned as an adult.

Image via Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Corbis

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