Details About 14-Year-Old Charged With Murdering Math Teacher Are Chilling

Twisted 61

Colleen RitzerThe details of the shocking murder of popular Danvers, Massachusetts math teacher Colleen Ritzer just keep on coming, and they're as horrible as you'd expect. So horrible that it's starting to become clear why police would charge 14-year-old suspect Philip Chism with first degree murder ... as an adult.

I confess at first I was a little shocked. He's 14! He's just a kid! Can a child really answer charges of this magnitude as an adult?

But then came the details of the crime. Warning, they're not easy to stomach.

Students on Chism's soccer team reported the athlete running away from their practice field on Tuesday night, saying he had something he needed to take care of -- indicating pre-meditation. Chism skipped practice and a team dinner that night, despite being one of the team's leading scorers. 

A source told MyFoxBoston that Chism confessed, allegedly telling cops that he followed the teacher into the women's bathroom and slashed her throat.

According to law enforcement, Ritzer was stabbed and cut with a box cutter -- reportedly stolen from the school art room -- on Tuesday night. Blood was found in a school bathroom where it's believed the attack happened, but the math teacher's body was found in the woods near the high school. Cops now say surveillance footage from the school shows Chism wheeling a recycling bin out of the school, although they won't comment on whether Ritzer was inside.

The teen was seen later that evening, buying a ticket to see the Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine.

These details are, of course, incomplete. Police are still putting together the case against the teenager.

But if true, they paint a picture not of an innocent kid acting out in frustration, not of a kid who didn't know what he was doing was wrong or couldn't foresee the effect of his actions, but of someone calculating, someone who planned things out and then tried to cover their tracks.

Doesn't sound like an innocent kid, does it?

Cases like this one in Danvers shake Americans to our very core because they go against what it is we think of childhood. We are shocked by the charges, but we're shocked too by the details of the crime. We are forced to re-evaluate everything we think about kids and what kids are truly capable of doing.

This is not as uncommon as we'd like to think. According to the Equal Justice Initiative, some 3,000 American kids have been sentenced to life in adult prisons for adult crimes. Until 2005, there were even children being put to death for adult crimes (something the Supreme Court put an end to, thank goodness).

How do we know when it's appropriate? How do we separate the kids who screw up from the kids who are hardcore criminals who need to be dealt with as such?

Sadly, there is no easy answer.

Some would argue that kids should never be charged as adults, that cases like that against Philip Chism should remain in juvenile court, regardless of the evidence police, regardless of the heinous nature of the murder of Colleen Ritzer.

The evidence in this case, of course, is what matters. We need to see more to really tell what this kid was up to.

But I think we've all seen kids who scare us, kids who, even as young children, we can tell are destined to go nowhere good. I'm not talking about your garden variety juvenile delinquent who may well turn into Joe Volunteer one day with two kids, a wife, and a picket fence. I mean the children who turn into violent criminals as adults, who started out strangling puppies and worked their way on up.

Should the adult case against Philip Chism proceed? Should a 14-year-old be sitting in adult court right now?

From the sounds of it so far, yes, absolutely. But we must remember that whether he's charged as an adult or as a juvenile, he still deserves his day in court. He is still innocent until proven guilty.

Should kids be tried as adults? When is it OK?


crime, death, law


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Coles... Coles_mom

He should absolutely be sitting in an adult court right now. The last thing we need is for kids that age to get the message that if they don't like someone, they can just kill them and they'll get away with it. 

Lulu2216 Lulu2216

Yes he should tried as an adult. This isn't a petty thieft, he killed a woman and tried to hide the body. Sickening. At fourteen he knew what he was doing. People need to stop babying criminals and that is what he is.


His MO shows that there is some thing seriously broken with this kid. Yes, he should be tried as an adult. We don't want him running free with this kind of thing sealed in his juvenile records in a few years. Some people can't be rehabilitated, society at largre shouldn't be put at risk because of a number (his age).  Our jails are already over crowded and our government is out of money to pay for more heinous people. I'll leave it at that.

abra819 abra819

throw away the mf'n key!


starr... starreyedcutie

Sentence him to death! Absolutely he should be tried as a adult! Punishments in America for horrible crimes aren't severe enough! Hence the reason we have repeat offenders and jails packed to the max.

worki... workingmama86

He committed an "adult" Crime... he should be charged as an adult would! He's a monster! Giving him a slap on the wrist and allowing him back into society is a danger to all of us!

nonmember avatar JD

I believe that the real reason the comments are so quick to condemn this child is because the "cute white girl" was killed by this minority and it scares them. This child should be punished and severely so but at 14 he is not an adult. At 14, you cannot drive or even work. You cannot vote or even buy cigarettes. We do all these things because we know that children cannot be relied upon to make decisions in there own best interest. So why would condemn a child to death when they make a wrong decision when we know that, given the chance they will almost always make the wrong decision. Maybe take a step back and think about how you were as a 14 y.o. Do you remember being able to think past the next week or month of your life? Do you remember what you thought it meant to be an adult or what it meant to be in trouble. When something tragic happens to a child this age everyone says how sad it is they did not really have a chance to live or that they were just learning about life. just know that those same things still hold true when the child is the cause of the tragedy.

nonmember avatar Kayla

JD, I didn't go killing people when I was 14. Your argument is invalid. And for the love of God, don't play the race card. This kid brutally murdered someone. People would still be all up in arms about it regardless of the color of anyone involved.

AliPa... AliParker

JD- I actually avoided the story because it is heartbreaking. This is the first article I've read about it and until you wrote that comment had no idea nor did it even matter what race he is. If you hadn't said that it never would've crossed my mind. I agreed he needs to be tried as an adult just by reading this article and not knowing what he looked like. Not everything needs to be made about the color of someone's skin, it's sick. He is 14, FOURTEEN! He knew what he was doing. He knows right from wrong. He is old enough to understand the magnitude of death, of deliberately taking someone's life. He deserves to be tried as an adult. I hope they lock him away for the rest of his pathetic existence.

nonmember avatar jamie howard

just give another chance he wont kill again. put him on 1500 mg.of slow down pills

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