New details emerge in Mass. teacher killing as students return to class

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By Tom Winter and Erin McClam, NBC News

Students returned to class Friday at the Massachusetts high school where authorities say a 14-year-old boy killed a beloved math teacher earlier this week and dumped her body in the woods.

The school, in the town of Danvers, north of Boston, reopened on the morning after a community meeting where more than 1,000 parents showed up to talk about security and supporting the children.

The body of the teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24, was found in woods nearby just after midnight Wednesday.

A law enforcement source told NBC News on Friday that Ritzer’s throat was slit from the back with a box-cutter in a second-floor bathroom at the school. Her body was wheeled out of the school in a recycling bin, dumped in the woods and covered with leaves, the source said.

Philip Chism, a freshman, was charged as an adult with first-degree murder and has been ordered held without bail. A surveillance camera caught the suspect following Ritzer into the bathroom and then leaving, covered in blood, the source said.

The suspect changed his clothes at some point and went to the movies and to Wendy’s, the law enforcement source said. Investigators found both the suspect’s and Ritzer’s phones smashed, the source told NBC News.

Students said that Ritzer had asked Chism to meet with her after class on the day of the murder. The second-floor bathroom, where blood was found, was to remain closed Friday.

“I think it’s troubling to a lot of kids knowing they were so close to a murder,” Lisa Smith, a Danvers parent, told WHDH, the NBC affiliate in Boston.

Meanwhile, the Ritzer Family has established a scholarship fund in memory of Colleen: Click here for more information.