Philip Chism arraigned for murder, rape of Danvers teacher Colleen Ritzer

Philip Chism, 14, will be arraigned on charges of the rape, murder, and robbery of Colleez Ritzer Wednesday. Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/ Metro
Philip Chism, 14, in court shortly after his arrest for the murder of Colleen Ritzer. Photo by Nicolaus Czarnecki/ Metro

As two devastated families looked on, 14-year-old Philip Chism pleaded not guilty to murdering, raping and robbing his teacher at Danvers High School.

Chism was indicted on those charges by a grand jury last month and was arraigned in Essex Superior Court Wednesday afternoon.

Chism’s family, as well as the parents, aunts, uncles and other relatives of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer, were present for the arraignment. Chism’s mother cried as her son was brought into court.

Ritzer’s family didn’t speak to reporters, but a family friend spoke on their behalf.

“It was a difficult day for them,” said Dan Murphy, who said he’s known the Ritzer family for more than 20 years.

Ritzer’s family released a statement after the hearing.

“As a family, we remain devastated by the passing of our daughter and sister, Colleen,” the statement said. “We are however strengthened by the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received from so many throughout the local community and beyond. We are especially touched by the number of tributes to Colleen throughout Andover and Danvers.”

Chism, dressed in a tie, sweater and khakis, looked down during much of the hearing and only said “not guilty” when asked for a plea.

While Chism is being charged as an adult for the murder, the indictment of the aggravated rape and armed robbery counts charge him as a youthful offender. Prosecutors plan to seek to join all of the charges into one case, but Chism’s lawyer indicated she wants those charges brought against him as a youthful offender.

“He is entitled to all of the rights and benefits that go to a juvenile who is indicted as a youthful offender,” said Attorney Denise Regan.

A judge ordered Chism held without bail and Regan did not object.

The case is due back in court next month.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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