Philip Chism showed signs of psychosis, report says

Phillip Chism was arraigned on a second rape charge in Salem Superior Court Jan. 30.
Associated Press
Phillip Chism was arraigned on a second rape charge in Salem Superior Court Jan. 30.

Philip D. Chism, the 15-year-old charged with raping and killing a Danvers High School teacher, showed signs of psychosis after an alleged attack on a female worker at a juvenile detention facility earlier this month, according to a legal filing.

The document, a request by the state Department of Youth Services to have Chism undergo a psychiatric evaluation following the June 2 incident, was released to the public Tuesday.

Authorities have alleged that Chism was armed with a pencil when he followed a counselor at the Dorchester facility into a staff bathroom and choked, stabbed, and punched her. She declined medical attention after the incident.


After being restrained, Chism “presented immediately with psychotic symptoms, yelling, screaming incoherently, [and] foaming at the mouth,” the filing said.

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A lawyer for Chism declined to comment.

The June 2 incident bore similarities to the killing that Chism is charged with committing in Danvers.

In that case, prosecutors allege that he followed his math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24, into a bathroom at Danvers High on Oct. 22, then slashed her throat and raped her.

Chism has not been charged in the alleged attack on the youth services worker.


He is undergoing a mental health evaluation at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital. During a June 10 court hearing, Essex prosecutors asked a judge to recommend strict security measures for Chism in Worcester.

Prosecutor Kate Berrigan MacDougall raised safety concerns about the Worcester hospital during a closed sidebar conference at the June 10 hearing, according to a separate transcript released on Tuesday.

“I’m not aware of anything that would prevent Mr. Chism from doing exactly what he did on the 2d, and creeping out of an area and attacking a female staff by herself,” said MacDougall.

Lester Blumberg, counsel for the state Department of Mental Health, which runs the Worcester hospital, laid out the security measures for Chism, including constant one-on-one observation.

Blumberg said that “generally speaking, he wouldn’t be alone with staff members. As I said, he sleeps in his own room. During nighttime, staff members will sit at his door. . . . He’ll be escorted into bathrooms by male staff members when he goes to the bathroom.”


Blumberg said the hospital would, to the greatest extent possible, “maintain him on one-to-one’s with male staff” and that Chism will only be released back into the custody of law enforcement.

Asked for comment Tuesday, a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services, which oversees the youth services and mental health departments, referred to a prior statement from the mental health agency, which said in part that patients admitted to the Worcester hospital for court-ordered evaluations are “never allowed independent access to any part of the facility.”

In addition, the Department of Youth Services has said that officials are reviewing the June 2 incident in Dorchester to identify any necessary security improvements.

More coverage:

Family of slain teacher announces scholarship winners

6/6: Philip Chism to be held in tighter security

6/4: Teen held in teacher’s murder investigatged in assault

2/25: Search of teen’s cellphone is completed

11/22: Philip Chism accused of raping, killing Danvers High teacher

Laura Crimaldi of the Globe staff contributed to this report.