EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 19, 2014

Unsealed records describe Chism attack at detention center

Philip Chism took steps to elude the staff watching him at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Dorchester before attacking a female employee, according to court papers released this morning by a judge.

The court documents also indicate that Department of Youth Services officials had been warned last fall by prosecutors that Chism, 15, should not be left alone with any female staff.

Chism is charged with first-degree murder as an adult in last October's killing of Danvers High School math teacher Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover in a school bathroom. He is also charged as a youthful offender with raping and robbing her.

On Friday, Salem, Mass., Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead released the documents in response to a motion by The Eagle-Tribune and Salem News.   

The documents describe how Chism "took steps to elude other staff that were believed to be observing him, including but not limited to creeping along a common hallway crouched down out of view of the observers," wrote prosecutor Kate MacDougall.

On June 2, Chism allegedly followed the woman into a locker room at the Dorchester facility and tried to choke her; he also had a pencil in his hands. The woman was able to scream and other employees came to her aid.

Chism was initially taken to Boston Medical Center.

As a result of the incident, DYS officials petitioned to have Chism sent to Worcester State Hospital, where he is being held while he undergoes an evaluation. That request was allowed by Judge Howard Whitehead on June 4.

That order, however, was impounded, as was a response filed by prosecutors the following week. And a hearing held at the request of prosecutors on June 10 was conducted at sidebar, out of earshot of a reporter present in the courtroom.

Thursday, after hearing from Eagle-Tribune and Salem News attorney Peter Caruso, Whitehead agreed to release some of the materials, including the petition for commitment filed by the DYS, and the prosecution's response.

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