Philip Chism Murder Trial: Everything We Know About The Teen Rapist And Killer

16-year-old Philip Chism was recently found guilty of first-degree murder for the death of his mathematics teacher, Colleen Ritzer, at Danvers High School in Massachusetts. Prosecutors claim Chism, who was 14 years old at the time, used a box cutter to stab his 24-year-old teacher before disposing of her body in the woods with a recycling bin.

Once in the woods, Chism then proceeded to rape and violate Ritzer with a wooden stick before abandoning her half-naked body. A note near her body said, “I hate you all.” The teenager’s defense lawyers claimed he was in the midst of a psychotic episode when he stabbed Ritzer sixteen times in the neck in the women’s bathroom.

Chism, who was tried as an adult, was found guilty of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated rape, including natural and unnatural rape and armed robbery for stealing his teacher’s credit cards — one of which was used at the movies — and her underwear. He was found not guilty on a second count of aggravated rape.

CCTV footage was shown to the jurors during the trial which depict Chism following Ritzer into a bathroom, wearing a hood and putting on gloves. “The only still image that matters in this case is the image of Colleen in the woods,” said prosecutor Kate McDougall to the jury, who deliberated for over two days.

Philip Chism Murder

CCTV footage of Chism after the murder of Ritzer. (Screen grab:

Meanwhile, Chism’s attorney, Denise Regan, argued, “When Philip Chism followed Miss Ritzer into that bathroom, he was not himself. He was totally and absolutely responding to the terrible command of the hallucinations in his head.”

However, in spite of the teenagers’ family having a history of mental illness, jurors rejected the defense’s argument that Chism suffered a psychosis when he pursued his teacher. The prosecution further argued that Chism is manipulative and lying, and not legally insane.

A psychiatrist who testified for the defense claimed Chism was listening to commands from voices in his head and was in the middle of a psychotic episode when he killed Ritzer in 2013. Witness Dr. Richard Dudley, who met with Chism several times before his trial, testified that Chism, at the time of the murder, believed he was a ninja.

Chism, who will be sentenced at a later date after the holidays, had recently moved to Massachusetts from Clarksville, Tennessee, when he committed the crime. As a juvenile, he cannot receive a life sentence without parole — something that is automatic for normal adult offenders. Chism’s first opportunity for parole would come after he serves 15 to 25 years.

Additionally, Chism’s lawyers are also expected in court in Boston on Wednesday as the 16-year-old faces separate charges of attempted murder and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon following allegations that he attacked a state Department of Youth Services worker in June 2014 while awaiting trial.

Prosecutors in that particular case claim Chism had been in custody at a youth detention facility in Boston when he allegedly followed a female worker into a locker room.

Of Chism’s guilty verdict, Ritzer’s father Thomas said, “This guilty verdict, while the beginning of justice for Colleen, is certainly no cause for celebration as there can never be true justice for the crime committed. There remains a tremendous absence in our lives, one that sadly can never be replaced.”

Read Also: US Police Officer Jailed For 260 Years For Raping 13 Black Women

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Regina is a Fine Arts graduate who expresses herself through various mediums. She finds amusement in pop culture, enjoys video games, and watches way too many YouTube videos on a daily basis.