Danvers High School Student Will Be Charged with Murdering Teacher

The body of Colleen Ritzer, 24, was found behind the school Tuesday night.

A 14-year-old Danvers High School student will be charged today with murdering a 24-year-old math teacher after her body was found in the woods behind the school.

According to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett at a press conference, the suspect, later identified as Philip Chism,  didn’t return home from school Tuesday and was reported missing that afternoon. Danvers teacher Colleen Ritzer, too, was reported missing at around 11:20 p.m. when she didn’t return home or answer phone calls. Police found blood in a second-floor bathroom and later found Ritzer’s body behind the school. The suspect was then found by Topsfield police at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday walking north along Route 1.

Though the D.A.’s office initially cited state law in refusing to name the suspect, Danvers police had announced on social media at 9:25 p.m. Tuesday that they were looking for a 14-year-old boy named Philip Chism who had recently moved to Danvers from Tennessee. That was before Ritzer had been reported missing. Then at about 7:15 a.m. this morning, police tweeted that Chism had been found safe.

Danvers High School cancelled classes Wednesday and a wing of the building was taped off for a police investigation. Already people are  mourning Ritzer, and poring over her social media presence. That included a Twitter account, @msritzermath, where she posted homework assignments and talked about her love of math, and a Facebook account, where she posted inspirational quotes and Boston Strong tributes.

Update 1:15 p.m.: Philip Chism appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, where he was charged with murder and ordered held without bail. He will be tried as an adult and has a probable cause hearing November 22. A judge approved a mental evaluation for him. CBS Boston has video of the proceedings.