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Community stunned by killing of popular young teacher

Wednesday - 10/23/2013, 5:20pm  ET

DANVERS, Mass. (AP) -- One student calls her "the nicest teacher anyone could ever have."

Students at Danvers High School in Massachusetts say they're stunned by the killing of 24-year-old math teacher Colleen Ritzer, whose body was found in the woods behind the school early today. Investigators located her body after first discovering blood in a second-floor school bathroom.

Authorities have charged a 14-year-old student at the school with murder. Philip Chism is described by classmates as soft-spoken and pleasant. A teammate on the school's soccer team says he "wasn't violent at all."

He was ordered held without bail after his appearance today in adult court.

One 17-year-old who was a student in Ritzer's geometry class last year says she was a warm, welcoming person who would stand outside her classroom and say hello to students she didn't teach. Chris Weimert says, "She always had a warm smile on her face."

Another student says kids related to the young teacher, who liked to wear jeans and boots like the students wore.

Ritzer had a Twitter account where she gave homework assignments, encouraged students and described herself as a "math teacher often too excited about the topics I'm teaching."

All public schools in Danvers, 20 miles north of Boston, were closed today.

%@AP Links

186-a-07-(Denise Regan, defense attorney for 14-year-old Philip Chism (CHIH'-zihm) charged in adult court with the killing of teacher Colleen Ritzer, at arraignment)-"speaks for itself"-Suspect Philip Chism's attorney, Denise Regan, says her client needs to have his mental competency evaluated. (23 Oct 2013)


147-a-08-(Jonathan Blodgett, Essex County district attorney, at news conference)-"entire Danvers community"-District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett says the death of 24-year-old teacher Colleen Ritzer is a shock to the whole town. (23 Oct 2013)


GRAPHICSBANK: MASSACHUSETTS map highlighted with DANVERS and BOSTON locators, partial graphic (23 Oct 2013)

APPHOTO MABOH102: Philip Chism, 14, stands during his arraignment for the death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in Salem District Court in Salem, Mass., Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. Chism has been ordered held without bail. (AP Photo/Boston Herald, Patrick Whittemore) MANDATORY CREDIT (23 Oct 2013)


APPHOTO MANOA501: Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzeris seen in this undated photo provided by the family of Ritzer. Fourteen-year-old high school student Philip Chism was accused of killing Ritzer, a well-liked math teacher at Danvers High School, in Danvers, Mass., whose body was found in the woods behind the school. Law enforcement officials recovered the remains of 24-year-old Ritzer early Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said. Chism was arraigned Wednesday in Salem on a murder charge and ordered held without bail. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Dale Webster via the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune) (23 Oct 2013)

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