For Immediate Release - November 21, 2013

14 Year Old Indicted for Murder, Aggravated Rape, Armed Robbery

An Essex County Grand Jury today indicted Philip Chism, 14, of Danvers, for murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in connection with the October 22, 2013 murder of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer.

“The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts,” District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said.  “Since the moment Ms. Ritzer’s body was discovered, a dedicated and professional team of state police detectives assigned to my office, Danvers Police officers, crime scene forensic experts and assistant district attorneys have worked tirelessly to compile and present the evidence to the Grand Jury.  This is the first step in a long process to secure justice for Ms. Ritzer and her family.”

The murder indictment states that Chism, “did kill and murder said [victim].”  The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled that the manner of the victim’s death is homicide based on the nature of the injuries, however the ruling on the exact cause of death is pending.  Massachusetts General Law chapter 119, section 74 requires that anyone over the age of 14 who is indicted for murder be tried as an adult. 

The aggravated rape indictment alleges that the defendant sexually assaulted the victim with an object.  Aggravated rape is charged when there is serious bodily harm and/or when the rape was committed during the commission of another felonious and assaultive crime. 

The armed robbery indictment alleges that the defendant, armed with a box cutter, robbed the victim of credits cards, an iPhone and her underwear.

In the aggravated rape and armed robbery indictments, Chism is charged as a Youthful Offender. According to Massachusetts General Law chapter 119, section 54, an offender who is between 14 and 17 and commits an offense that is a felony and causes serious bodily harm is charged as a Youthful Offender.  These indictments have initially been returned to the Juvenile Court.  The Commonwealth will move to join these indictments with the murder indictment in Superior Court.

 “It is important for the public to understand that, while this case continues to be under investigation and is pending in court, this Office cannot and will not disclose information outside of court that could compromise our ability to prosecute this defendant,” D.A. Blodgett said. 

Mr. Chism is represented by Attorney Denise Regan and remains held without bail.  Indictments are allegations only and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  An arraignment date in Superior Court has not yet been scheduled.

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