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October 26, 2013

Teacher killer defendant's mom says her 'heart is broken'

DANVERS, Mass. — The mother of the Danvers High School freshman charged with the grisly murder of his math teacher says her "heart is broken" for the victim's family, that she is "struggling to understand" the situation and that she loves her son.

Diana Chism, mother of murder defendant Philip Chism, 14, expressed her sentiments Saturday through her son's court-appointed attorney, Denis Regan. It was the family's first response to the slaying of beloved teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, in a second-floor girls bathroom at the high school after classes Tuesday.

"On October 22, 2013, two families were unexpectedly and inconceivably changed forever," said attorney Regan on behalf of the mother. "Ms. Chism's heart is broken for the Ritzer family and the loss of their daughter and sister. Ms.  Chism would like  you to know that her son was born in love and is deart to her, very dear. She is struggling to understand this and respectfully ask for some time to process this."

The statement continued: "She ask that you know that she cares for the world's hurt over this and greatly hopes for your prayers for the Ritzer family, the Danvers community, for her son, and all those affected by this tragedy."

The son is charged in adult court with killing the teacher with a box cutter, placing her bloody body into a recycling barrel and wheeling it out of the school, then dumping it in a wooded area next to the school and covering it with leaves. NBC News reported Saturday that an investigator told the network Ritzer's throat was slashed from behind. The youth has pleaded not guilty.

The murder occurred after classes were dismissed for the day and following a special tutoring session the teacher had given the student defendant. A school surveillance camera captured Chism following Ritzer into the bathroom and later wheeling the recycling barrel down the hall and out of the school, his clothes bloodied.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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