Teen arrested in murder of Danvers high school teacher
DANVERS, Mass. (WHDH) -- A 14-year-old student is in custody and will be charged as an adult in Salem District Court on a first-degree murder charge after a teacher's body was found in the woods near Danvers High School.
Twenty-four-year-old Colleen Ritzer was a math teacher at Danvers High School. Sometime around 11 o’clock Monday night, a family member called police to report her missing. Ritzer lived in Andover. An investigation into her whereabouts led police to the high school. There they found a lot of blood in a second floor bathroom. They later discovered her body in the woods behind the school.
The District Attorney did not say how Colleen Ritzer was killed. Sources told 7News that she was stabbed to death.
“At approximately 11:20 p.m., Danvers Police received a report that a Danvers teacher had not returned home from work and was not answering her cell phone. As a result of that report, Danvers Police initiated a search for the teacher and discovered blood in the second floor bathroom at Danvers High school. The school was immediately secured,” said Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett.
“She was one of the nicest teachers at Danvers, always going out of her way to talk to you, always saying hi to everybody. It’s a real tragedy. I was after school with her on Monday taking a test. It is surreal really. I don't know what to think about it,” said Chris Weimert, Danvers High School student.
The DA also said the investigation started with a missing persons report of a 14-year-old student.
“We didn't know whether he was, like, kidnapped or he was hurt somewhere. We went around looking for him. We care about him,” said Ryan Kelleher, Danvers High School student.
The Essex DA said Topsfield Police found the teen walking along Route 1 at 3 o’clock in the morning Wednesday.
“At 12:30 [Wednesday] morning, Topsfield Police responded to reports that a pedestrian was walking north in the southbound lane of Route 1. Officers approached the pedestrian and soon realized that he was the person that was the subject of the Danvers Police alert. The juvenile was transported to Danvers Police station. As a result of the joint investigation of the Massachusetts state police, Danvers and Topsfield Police, the body of Colleen Ritzer, 24, Andover, was located in the woods near Danvers High School. It was apparent that she is a homicide victim. She was a teacher here at Danvers High School,” said Blodgett.
The District Attorney said they arrested a 14-year-old suspect and because of the suspect’s age, they are limited in what information they can release about him.
Danvers Public Schools were closed Wednesday. Danvers has five elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. Essex District Attorney said the schools were closed primarily for the investigation and that there was no risk to the public or children.