EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 24, 2013

Outpouring of sympathy follows slaying of teacher

ANDOVER — The death of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer was met with shock and sadness across town as residents, many of whom know the woman’s family, heard the news.

Ritzer, who lived with her family at 5 Dascomb Road, was killed Tuesday night at Danvers High School, where she had been a teacher for just over a year.

A 14-year-old student at the school has been charged with her slaying.

When the chairman of the Andover Board of Selectmen heard the age of the victim, he immediately called one of his daughters, who is also 24.

“My daughter knew her,” said Vispoli. “My heart bleeds for that family.”

His daughter, who now lives in North Carolina, graduated with Ritzer, but hadn’t kept in touch with her. Nonetheless, the murder of the young woman was difficult to fathom.

“It’s an atrocity,” Vispoli said. “Any time a young person is taken like this, as a parent, it doesn’t matter what the age, it hits you. It’s a personal thing. It’s horrific.”

His oldest daughter, who is 28, is also a teacher and lives in Salem, Mass.

“Everybody’s just outraged,” he said. “It’s very sad. I don’t think there’s a better word you can muster.”

He added that because Ritzer and her family have lived in town for so long, “it affects the whole community. There are no words to describe it.”

Andover selectmen observed a moment of silence at the start of their meeting last night.

Former selectman Ted Teichert graduated from Andover High School in 1979 with Ritzer’s mother, Peggy.

“I didn’t know Colleen but I have a daughter who is roughly the same age,” he said. “This is gut-wrenching. I can feel for the family.”

At Andover High School, the news of the death of a former student who became a teacher was met with disbelief.

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