Mass. Boy Denies Raping, Killing His Math Teacher

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  • SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A 14-year-old boy accused of killing his high school math teacher pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges on Wednesday.

    Philip Chism is charged in the Oct. 22 death of Colleen Ritzer, a popular teacher at Danvers High School. Ritzer’s body was found in woods near the school with her throat slit and a note reading, “I hate you all.”

    Chism had already pleaded not guilty in District Court, but the case was moved to Superior Court after he was indicted last month. His attorney agreed on Wednesday to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail. The hearing lasted for about 15 minutes.

    Ritzer’s family and friends filled two rows of the courtroom. Chism’s mother, Diana Chism, sobbed quietly when he was taken into court. The families left without talking to reporters.

    Philip Chism had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tenn.

    Police haven’t released a motive for Ritzer’s killing. Assistant District Attorney Kate MacDougall said Wednesday nothing during the investigation has pointed to mental health issues. Chism’s lawyer, Denise Regan, said she would raise the issue of mental competency “if and when” she feels it’s appropriate.

    Students told police that Chism stayed after school the day the 24-year-old Ritzer was killed. One student who said she had also stayed after school to receive extra help that day said Chism appeared to become upset when Ritzer began talking about Tennessee.

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