EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 25, 2013

Judge seals documents in Danvers murder investigation

DANVERS -- A Salem, Mass., District Court judge has sealed all of the documents pertaining to a search warrant issued in the Danvers High School murder investigation.

The order seals not only the search warrant application and affidavit by state police trooper Robert LaBarge, which would have contained information required to legally justify the search, but the results of the search and even the District Attorney's motion to impound the record.

It was issued yesterday afternoon at 4:14 p.m. by Judge Michael Lauranzano, just minutes before the court closed for the day.

Only the judge's order announcing the sealing of the papers is currently available.

It is known that investigators have searched the home of Philip Chism, the 14-year-old Danvers High freshman who is charged in the murder of Colleen Ritzer, 24, of Andover, a math teacher.

So far, District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett's office has been tight-lipped about releasing even basic details about the crime, including when it is believed to have occurred and the type of injuries sustained by Ritzer, as well as the type of weapon believed used.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the case have provided some details, including that a box cutter was the apparent weapon.

The application for the murder complaint in Salem District Court consists of a three-paragraph "statement of facts," and not the full police report.

Chism's attorney, Denise Regan, thwarted an attempt by a prosecutor on Wednesday to read additional details from a police report in open court during Chism's arraignment, by waiving a hearing on the issue of bail.

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