National News

College Community Mourns Murder of One of Its Alums

WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS) – Assumption College held a noon prayer service in the school’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit to remember Colleen Ritzer, a 2011 graduate found dead early in the morning on Oct. 23.

Assumptionist Father Dennis Gallagher, the college’s vice president for mission, said the time of quiet, prayerful reflection also would be an occasion to pray for her family and the alleged killer, Philip Chism, a 14-year-old student at Danvers High School, about 25 miles north of Boston, where Ritzer taught math.

Ritzer’s body was found in the woods behind the high school. Chism was charged as an adult and arraigned Oct. 23 in nearby Salem on a murder charge and ordered held without bail. Prosecutors said he beat Ritzer to death. Police said Oct. 24 that Chism used a box cutter in the slaying.

People quoted by Associated Press or the Boston Globe spoke of Ritzer as well-liked and respected, a mentor to students, passionate about her job and close to family members. Chism was described as a quiet, pleasant top scorer on the school’s junior varsity soccer team, who recently moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee.

“The Assumption College campus community mourns the tragic death of Colleen Elizabeth Ritzer, a 2011 alumna who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a minor in psychology with a concentration in secondary education,” Assumption College President Francesco Cesareo said in an Oct. 23 statement.