Judge refuses to unseal documents in Danvers case
By John R. Ellement and Martin Finucane
November 08, 2013
Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune/AP File
Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer was allegedly murdered by Philip Chism, a 14-year-old sophomore who was one of Ritzer’s math students.
A Salem District Court judge refused to unseal a search warrant affidavit filed in the investigation of the killing of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, saying in a decision made public Friday that releasing details of the case could affect witnesses’ grand jury testimony and would be cruel to the victim’s family.
Ritzer was killed inside Danvers High School, allegedly by Philip Chism, a 14-year-old sophomore who was one of Ritzer’s math students.
The affidavit was filed by police as part of a request for a warrant to search Chism’s home.
Such affidavits usually outline the case being built by investigators to convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe that a search will find evidence of a crime.
Several news organizations, including The Boston Globe, sought to have the affidavit unsealed because authorities have released few details about the case, including what allegedly motivated Chism.
But Judge Michael C. Lauranzano said that releasing details of the case, which drew attention worldwide, could “effect/prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation by potentially influencing witnesses who are expected to testify before the grand jury.”
“Some of these witnesses are not equipped to handle the media attention that will be drawn to them as soon as their identities are revealed,” he wrote.
He also said he was acting to give the Ritzer family more time to cope with the shock of her death.
“I also find that the privacy interests of the victim’s family are implicated in this case,” the judge wrote. “. . . Release of this information now, without some additional time for the Ritzer family to come to terms with this horrific event, seems to me, to be unconscionable.”
Chism has been charged with first-degree murder as an adult and has pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Salem District Court Oct. 23. He is being held without bail by the Department of Youth Services at the request of Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins’ office.
During their investigation, State and Danvers police. along with Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett’s office, executed the warrant, but then asked for the affidavit that explained the legal basis for the search to be sealed, along with other documents.
On Monday, lawyers for the Globe and other news organizations asked Lauranzano to unseal the affidavit and other records, a move opposed by Blodgett’s office and a lawyer for Ritzer’s family, who told the judge her family was still grieving the loss of the popular 24-year-old teacher.
Michael J. Grygiel — an Albany, N.Y., lawyer — represented the Associated Press, GateHouse Media, and the Eagle Tribune Publishing Co. in court.
Lauranzano, in his decision, extended the sealing of the affidavit to Nov. 22, the date that prosecutors have said they would finish presenting evidence to the grand jury.
Chism moved to Danvers this past summer from Tennessee with his mother and sisters. Friends and relatives have said he was unhappy about the move, but described him as friendly and sweet. He had made friends in Danvers and was a soccer standout.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation has told the Globe that Ritzer was stabbed and cut with a box cutter, possibly in a school bathroom where blood was found. Her body was recovered in the woods next to the high school.
Students have said that on the day she disappeared, Oct. 22, Ritzer had asked Chism to stay after class to help him prepare for a test.
John R. Ellement can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.
Judge refuses to unseal documents in murder of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer - Metro - The Boston Globe
"This is not meant to be at all offensive: You suffer from diarrhea of the mouth but constipation of the brain." - McJag
14-Year-Old Indicted on Charges of Raping, Murdering Math Teacher
On Thursday, a grand jury in Essex County, Massachusetts indicted 14-year-old Philip Chism on charges first-degree murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery. Last month, Chism allegedly raped and murdered Colleen Ritzer, his math teacher, in the second floor bathroom of Danvers High School before dragging her body into nearby woods.
“The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a statement, according to the Boston Globe. “This is the first step in a long process to secure justice for Ms. Ritzer and her family.”
Chism was indicted as an adult for the murder charge and as a juvenile on the aggravated rape and armed robbery charges.
All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.
If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator
I haven't been following this closely, but that's the first I heard that he raped her too. What the hell do you do with an animal like that who is capable of this at 14? And I wonder why the murder charge is as an adult, but the others juvie charges? I'm sure there's a reason for it, but I don't get it.
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OMG. Her poor family.
I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West
In various reports he is said to have raped her with "an object."
Posted from my fucking iPhone
i just hope it wasn't the box cutter. ugh.
as for why he was charged as a juvenile for the rape, maybe it has to do with the age of consent?
what i don't get is that this kid apparently had no history of disturbing behaviour so to commit a crime so it's really weird that he would have done something so awful as his first crime. unless there's more we don't know about.
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Just take him outside and put a bullet in his head. Just put him down.
><((((º>·. ¸¸. ·´¯`·.¸¸><((((º>><((((º>`·.¸¸.··´¯`·...¸><((((º>¸.·´¯`·.. ><((((º> `·.¸¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º>
Wow. I don't believe that he can be rehabilitated.
See, Whores, we are good for something. Love, Florida
Also, there was the story - I don't think that the prosecutor would stick his neck out with a statement like this if there were any evidence to the contrary:
â€˜No evidence of any misconductâ€™ by slain teacher Colleen Ritzer: prosecutor Â* - NY Daily News
‘No evidence of any misconduct’ by slain teacher Colleen Ritzer: prosecutor
Essex County assistant district attorney defends the Massachusetts math instructor's honor during fight to keep records sealed. Lawyers for 14-year-old Philip Chism claim the documents could hurt the teen murder suspect's defense.
Comments (9)BY DOYLE MURPHY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Read more: â€˜No evidence of any misconductâ€™ by slain teacher Colleen Ritzer: prosecutor Â* - NY Daily News
A prosecutor hurried to defend the honor of slain Massachusetts teacher Colleen Ritzer as authorities prepare a murder case against her 14-year-old student.
“Let me be very clear: There is absolutely no evidence of any misconduct or wrongdoing of any sort by the victim in this case, Miss Ritzer,” Essex prosecutor Dan O’Sullivan said in court, the Boston Globe reported.
O’Sullivan didn’t explain the comment further.
Maybe he is charged as a juvenile for the lesser crimes bc that is how those are normally tried in this state, and 1st-degree murder normally triggers trial as an adult?
He is a psychopath imo, and so chances are his personal history holds some quiet deviant behavior.
Posted from my fucking iPhone
New, disturbing details:
My Way News - Documents: Mass. teacher's throat cut, note left
Documents: Mass. teacher's throat cut, note left
Email this Story
Nov 22, 1:55 PM (ET)
By LYNNE TUOHY
SALEM, Mass. (AP) - 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.
(AP) In this Oct. 23, 2013, file photo, Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the...
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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.
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.
Santa is an elitist mother fucker -- giving expensive shit to rich kids and nothing to poor kids.
There is new stuff in the article below. So far, nothing that implicates the teacher. New material are 1) the note he left behind, 2) he entered the bathroom masked, and 3) the teacher inadvertently mentioned his previous home in Tennessee and it really set him off and he couldn't calm down.
Police affidavit describes chilling note left by Philip Chism after death of Danvers High teacher Colleen Ritzer
Philip D. Chism allegedly became upset at Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer when she started talking about Tennessee, the state the teenager had recently moved away from after his parents’ “stressful’’ divorce there, according to a police affidavit unsealed today.
Chism, 14, also allegedly left behind a note after raping and murdering Ritzer, a popular math teacher at the North Shore school, last month.
“I hate you all,’’ said the handwritten, folded note, which was found near Ritzer’s body in the woods near the school, according to the affidavit.
According to authorities, Ritzer was attacked in a second-floor bathroom at the school. When her body was found in the woods, her throat cut, police discovered that her attacker had staged her body and partially removed her clothing. Evidence of a sexual assault was found on the body, according to the affidavit by State Police Trooper Robert C. LaBarge Jr.
Chism was indicted Thursday by an Essex County grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder as an adult. He also was indicted as a youthful offender on charges of aggravated rape and armed robbery for allegedly using an object in the sexual assault and stealing Ritzer’s credit cards, underwear, and cellphone.
The youthful offender charges will initially be handled in juvenile court, but Blodgett’s office will seek to have all the charges tried in Superior Court.
Chism is due to be arraigned in Essex Superior Court on the murder charge Dec. 4. He is currently being held without bail at a Department of Youth Services facility.
The affidavit by LaBarge also provides a detailed timeline of the movements of Ritzer and Chism, drawn from surveillance cameras in the school building. Ritzer talked with a fellow teacher around 2:30 p.m. She left classroom A209 and then headed to a second-floor bathroom, followed a few moments later by Chism, who entered the bathroom wearing a mask, the cameras indicated.
At 3:06 p.m., a freshman student whose name was redacted from the trooper’s affidavit walked into the bathroom, but quickly left. The student later told police she saw someone’s “butt’’ and assumed that somebody there was changing clothes, prompting the student to leave.
Over the next several minutes, the cameras showed Chism, who had changed his clothes, bringing a plastic recycling bin to the bathroom, which he then allegedly pushed through the school and out into the adjacent wooded area where it was found about 20 yards away from Ritzer’s body the next day, Oct 23.
According to the affidavit, on Oct. 22, after the end of the regular school day, another student told police she was in the same classroom with Ritzer and Chism to get some extra help in math.
“She said that at some point, Ms. Ritzer mentioned Tennessee. She said that Philip became visibly upset after she mentioned Tennessee,” LaBarge wrote. “She said that Ms. Ritzer became aware that Philip was getting upset about her talking about Tennessee. She said that Ms. Ritzer later changed the topic.’’
The student said that after Ritzer stopped mentioning Tennessee, Chism continued to be upset. “She also said that she observed Philip apparently talking to himself in the classroom,’’ the student said.
Following Ritzer’s murder, Diana Chism was interviewed by police about her son. She told them she was living with her aunt, having moved away from Tennessee with her son and her daughter, in part because she was divorcing her husband.
“She said that it was a stressful divorce,’’ the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, Chism came to school with a “boxcutter, balaclava/ski mask, gloves and multiple changes of clothing,’’ leading investigators to conclude that he planned the attack in advance.
Ritzer was reported missing to Danvers police at about 11:20 p.m. Oct. 22, when she did not return home and did not answer her cellphone.
Police found blood in the second-floor bathroom at the high school, prompting a search of the grounds and the discovery of her body in the woods shortly before 3 a.m.
Chism was picked up by police shortly after midnight on Oct. 23, when he was found walking north on Route 1 in nearby Topsfield by Topsfield Police Officer Neil Hovey, who realized he had found the teenager who was the subject of a missing persons report issued earlier by Danvers police.
Hovey searched Chism’s backpack and also frisked him for safety reasons, police said. Chism was carrying a knife, police said. Inside his backpack, Hovey found credit cards, two driver’s licenses, and a pair of women’s underwear, belonging to Ritzer, the affidavit said.Continued...
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