CRIME

Philip Chism pleads not guilty in murder of Colleen Ritzer

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SALEM, Mass. (AP) - A 14-year-old Massachusetts boy has pleaded not guilty to murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges in the killing of his high school math teacher.

Photo: ABC News

Philip Chism is accused 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 Wednesday to a prosecution request that he remain held without bail.

Chism had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tenn.

Police haven't released a motive for Ritzer's killing. Chism's attorney has declined to comment. Ritzer's family was in court Wednesday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A 14-year-old boy is set to be arraigned Wednesday on murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery charges in the killing of his high school math teacher.

Philip Chism is accused 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's arraignment is scheduled for Salem Superior Court. He pleaded not guilty at his earlier arraignment in District Court. The case was moved to Superior Court after he was indicted last month.

Chism had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tenn.

Police have not released a motive for Ritzer's killing. Chism's attorney has declined to comment.

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.

Search warrant documents made public last month described surveillance video that authorities said showed Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom, wearing gloves and a hood, then later walking out of the bathroom alone.

A short time later, the video shows him pulling a recycling barrel through the school and outside, according to the documents. A recycling barrel was found near Ritzer's body. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted with a stick.

Chism is charged with murder as an adult. The aggravated rape and armed robbery charges are pending in Juvenile Court, but prosecutors have said they will seek to join those charges with the murder charge in adult court.

For Wednesday's arraignment, Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead has been sworn as a special Juvenile Court judge so he can hear all the charges together.

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