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Massachusetts teenager charged with murdering, raping teacher

Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Bosto
Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Bosto

By Daniel Lovering

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts grand jury on Thursday indicted a 14-year-old high school student on charges of murder, aggravated rape and armed robbery in the death of a 24-year-old math teacher at his school near Boston last month.

Philip Chism, 14, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Colleen Ritzer, whose body was found on October 22 in the woods behind the high school in Danvers, Massachusetts, about 20 miles north of Boston.

In indictments handed up on Thursday, an Essex County grand jury said Chism "did kill and murder" Ritzer, but that the exact cause of death remained undetermined, according to a statement from the Essex County District Attorney's Office.

"The indictments returned today detail horrific and unspeakable acts," District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in the statement.

Prosecutors said Chism sexually assaulted Ritzer with an object and, armed with a box cutter, robbed her of credit cards, an iPhone and her underwear, the statement said.

Chism cut the woman in a second-floor bathroom of the school before disposing of her body and going to see the Woody Allen film "Blue Jasmine," the Boston Globe reported last month, citing an unnamed law enforcement official.

Ritzer's family said they continued to mourn her death.

"We are devastated and heartbroken by the details of the horrific circumstances surrounding the death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Colleen," the family said in a statement.

Prosecutors charged Chism as an adult, which allowed them to release his name and could mean he faces a longer sentence in an adult prison rather than a juvenile facility if he is convicted.

His attorney, Denise Regan, declined to comment on Thursday.

Chism, who played on the junior varsity soccer team at Danvers High School, had recently moved to the New England town from Tennessee.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Beech)

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