The mother of the 14-year-old Danvers boy accused of murdering his 24-year-old math teacher is speaking out through her attorney, saying in a statement today that she loves her son and her “heart is broken” for the victim’s family.
“On October 22, 2013, two families were unexpectedly and inconceivably changed forever,” said the statement from attorney Denise Regan on behalf of Diana Chism. “Ms. Chism’s heart is broken for the Ritzer family and the loss of their daughter and sister Colleen Ritzer.
The statement said Chism “would like you to know that her son was born in love and is dear to her, very dear. She is struggling to understand this and respectfully asks for some time to process this.”
Chism asked for prayers on behalf of Ritzer’s family, the Danvers community, her son, and “all those affected by this tragedy.”
Philip Chism, a new student and junior varsity soccer player at the school, was charged as adult and is being held without bail in the murder of Colleen Ritzer. Ritzer’s body was dumped in the woods behind Danvers High School Tuesday, and police have said she was stabbed and cut with a box cutter, possibly in a school bathroom.
The motive for the killing remains unknown, investigators said.
The murder of Ritzer, a well-liked teacher, has prompted an outpouring of shock, grief, and support in Danvers, where students and others have held candlelight vigils in her honor.
Calling hours for Ritzer are scheduled from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at St. Augustine Church in Andover, where a funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Monday.
Friends and relatives of Chism in his native Clarksville, Tenn., told the Globe that Chism was upset over having to move to Massachusetts with his mother and sisters this summer, but described him as sweet and polite.
Public records show Chism’s parents filed for divorce, and said his father’s access to his children was to be restricted because of “physical abuse, sexual abuse, or a pattern of emotional abuse.”
The documents also contained assertions that Chism’s father, Stacy Chism, was guilty of adultery and “cruel” treatment of his spouse. The divorce was apparently never finalized.
Residents of the Riverwood Place apartment complex listed on Diana and Stacy Chism’s divorce papers could not remember the couple.
Former soccer teammates playing in a tournament this morning at Heritage Park in Clarksville described Chism as a quiet boy who played a good game on the field and never mentioned any problems at home. Parents said they saw his mother at games, but said they had not met his father.
Skateboarders at a nearby park said Chism used to skate with them in downtown Clarksville.
“One of the calmest people I’ve known,” said William Karpowecz, 17. “He was just a really quiet skater, he wouldn’t talk to anybody unless you talked to him first.”
While other skaters lost their tempers when they missed jumps, he said, Chism stayed mellow.
“I would never think of him to like, even get in a fight with somebody,” said Karpowecz.