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Episode 43: Phillip Chism Trial Testimony

This episode contains an excerpt from the morning of day 2 in the in the November 2015 murder trial of Phillip Chism, 16, who is accused of killing his Danvers High School math teacher, Colleen Ritzer, 24. Chism is being tried as an adult in the Salem Superior Court.

First a fellow math teacher, Todd Butterworth, describes the search for Colleen  when she didn’t come home after school on October 23, 2013. Her car was found in the high school parking lot. Butterworth explains how, during a search of the school grounds, he found Colleen’s large, distinctive school bag, that contained a pink calculator, wedged between some rocks near the woods. Near the bag, Butterworth said he also saw a pair of white gloves with blood on them and splatters of blood on nearby leaves.

Next, Stephanie Wennerberg, a police officer, described how she found  several pieces of blood-stained evidence were found in the woods by the school. She also found a bloody hand print during a search of the second-floor girls’ room. Finally, a canine officer, Justin Ellenton, describes how the he and his dog, Falco, searched for Miss Ritzer, and how Falco found a gray sneaker and a large green recycling bin with blood inside.

Later in the trial, the jury learned that, after his math class, Philip Chism pulled a hood over his head, put on a pair of gloves and followed Miss Ritzer into a second-floor girls bathroom, where he strangled her, cut her 16 times with a wire cutter, and raped her. He then rolled a large green recycling bin into the bathroom, put Colleen’s body inside it, then dragged it into the nearby woods. His motives remain unclear.

Listen to the testimony here.

Learn more about the case here.