Philip Chism pleads not guilty to second aggravated rape charge in murder of Danvers High school teacher Colleen Ritzer

SALEM — A Danvers teenager pleaded not guilty today to a second aggravated rape charge in connection with the grisly assault and murder of his math teacher at the town’s high school.

A not-guilty plea was entered on behalf of Philip D. Chism, 15, as he stood silently between his lawyers during a brief hearing in Essex Superior Court.

He previously pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery charges, as well as an earlier aggravated rape charge, in connection with the Oct. 22 slaying of Colleen Ritzer, 24, a popular young teacher at Danvers High School.

Chism is being held without bail.

Ritzer’s family attended today’s hearing, but left court without commenting.


Chism showed no obvious sign of emotion, looking straight ahead during the hearing. He did not look toward the spectators as court officers led him away.

Chism, a student of Ritzer’s who was 14 at the time, allegedly followed her into a bathroom at the high school shortly before 3 p.m. on Oct. 22 and slashed her throat, partially stripped her of her clothing, and stole her cellphone, credit cards, and two driver’s licenses. He then carted her body in a recycling bin to a wooded area behind the school, authorities have said.

During the assault on Ritzer, Chism allegedly raped her twice. One of the assaults was committed with an object, according to prosecutors.

No new details of the case were released in court today, but Essex Assistant DA Kate MacDougall said her team had turned over images captured by the school surveillance camera system to the defense.

A search of Chism’s cellphone, which authorities recently obtained a warrant for, has not yet been completed, officials said.

Denise Regan, Chism’s attorney from the Committee for Public Counsel Services, said in court that she would need time to review the vast amount of evidence that prosecutors have already turned over.


“The Commonwealth has been very forthcoming’’ with discovery, she said.

Judge Howard Whitehead slated a pretrial conference for April 7.

Prosecutors had no objection to Regan’s request that Chism be allowed to skip that hearing.

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