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Mother of Danvers murder suspect speaks out

Students walked in front of a make-shift memorial at Danvers High School.

Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff

Students walked in front of a make-shift memorial at Danvers High School.

The mother of the 14-year-old Danvers boy accused of murdering his 24-year-old math teacher spoke out through her attorney Saturday, saying in a statement that she loves her son and her “heart is broken” for the victim’s family.

“On October 22, 2013, two families were unexpectedly and inconceivably changed forever,” said the statement from attorney Denise Regan on behalf of Diana Chism. “Ms. Chism’s heart is broken for the Ritzer family and the loss of their daughter and sister Colleen Ritzer.”

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The statement said Chism “would like you to know that her son was born in love and is dear to her, very dear. She is struggling to understand this and respectfully asks for some time to process this.”

Chism asked for prayers on behalf of Ritzer’s family, the Danvers community, her son, and “all those affected by this tragedy.”

Philip Chism, a new student and junior varsity soccer player at the school, was charged as an adult and is being held without bail in the slaying of Colleen Ritzer. Ritzer’s body was dumped in the woods behind Danvers High School on Tuesday, and police have said she was stabbed and cut with a box cutter, possibly in a school bathroom. The motive for the killing remains unknown, investigators said.

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The slaying of Ritzer, a well-liked teacher, has prompted an outpouring of shock, grief, and support in Danvers, where students and others have held candlelight vigils in her honor.

On Saturday, the Danvers High School football team headed to Winthrop, where Ritzer was remembered with the release of balloons before kickoff and a moment of silence.

The admission fee was waived, but money was collected in Ritzer’s honor. Danvers players wore blue stickers showing a heart and footsteps walking through it, along with the initials “C.R.” and the words “In Loving Memory.”

Calling hours for Ritzer are scheduled from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Augustine Church in Andover, where a funeral Mass will be said Monday at 10 a.m.

Friends and relatives of Chism in his native Clarksville, Tenn., told the Globe that Chism was upset over having to move to Massachusetts with his mother and sisters this summer, but described him as sweet and polite.

Public records show Chism’s parents filed for divorce, and said his father’s access to his children was to be restricted because of “physical abuse, sexual abuse, or a pattern of emotional abuse.”

The documents also contained assertions that Chism’s father, Stacy Chism, was guilty of adultery and “cruel” treatment of his spouse.

The divorce was apparently never finalized.

Former soccer teammates playing in a tournament Saturday morning at Heritage Park in Clarksville described Chism as a quiet boy who played a good game and never mentioned any problems at home.

Skateboarders at a nearby park said Chism used to skate with them in Clarksville.

“One of the calmest people I’ve known,” said William Karpowecz, 17. “He was just a really quiet skater, he wouldn’t talk to anybody unless you talked to him first.”

Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.
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