(DANVERS, Mass.) — Philip Chism, the teen accused of raping and murdering his high school math teacher, pleaded not guilty Thursday in connection to a second charge of aggravated rape connected to the brutal crime at an arraignment in a Massachusetts court.
For the first time since Chism, 15, was arrested for the alleged Oct. 22 murder of Colleen Ritzer, whose body was found in a wooded area behind Danvers High School the following morning, the teacher’s family was in court to hear the charges. The suspect’s mother was also in court.
Chism, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, has already pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated rape charges for the murder of 24-year-old Ritzer at his arraignment in December on those charges.
According to a recently released search warrant affidavit, Chism confessed to state police that he killed Ritzer. Police said she was slashed with a box cutter, which, according to court documents, Chism carried to school as part of a macabre murder kit that also included a “ski mask, gloves, and multiple changes of clothing.”
Chism is accused of leaving a note near Ritzer’s body saying: “I hate you all,” according to court records, and now state police want to search his phone, as well as the victim’s phone that was stolen during the crime, for evidence that he could have memorialized the grisly slaying with a video.
The latest rape charge against Chism came last week after prosecutors presented DNA evidence to a grand jury, evidence that led to an indictment saying that the teen “forcibly had sexual intercourse with the victim,” Essex County prosecutors said.
In November, Chism was charged with aggravated rape for what he is alleged to have done after Ritzer died. According to a search warrant affidavit written by a state police detective, her body was found “sexually staged,” naked from the waist down with her bra pulled below her waist, according to the affidavit.
“The victims legs were spread apart and slightly bent in what appears to be a ‘sexually staged’ or ‘sexually positioned’ manner,” wrote Massachusetts State Trooper Robert LaBarge Jr. in his affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Chism’s home, computers and school books.
Ritzer’s remains were also sexually assaulted with a branch, which remained at the scene, the affidavit states. The body was covered with leaves and debris. Also found were blood-soaked gloves, which Chism was observed on a security video camera donning before he followed Ritzer into a second-floor bathroom at Danvers High School at 2:55 p.m. Oct. 22, one minute after the teacher entered the female student restroom, the court record states.
Chism is charged as an adult in the first-degree murder indictment, but was indicted as a juvenile offender in connection with the rape and armed robbery allegations, raising a complicated legal question about if he could face two separate trials. Massachusetts law states that anyone charged with first-degree murder at age 14 and over is automatically charged as an adult.
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