EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 24, 2013

A dream cut short


Berger agreed, saying Ritzer had always wanted to become a teacher.

“In our fifth-grade yearbook, when it says what do you want to be when you grow up, she said teacher,” Berger remembered. “She loved her job. Loved it.”

An ice hockey nut who never played the sport, Ritzer especially enjoyed watching her younger sister, Laura, a student at AHS, play hockey.

“She loved her little sister and liked supporting Laura so she would go to her games,” Berger said. “She was that type. So caring.”

Ritzer’s younger brother, Daniel, graduated from Andover High in 2011 and now attends the University of Connecticut.

Berger said when the two were away from each other at college -- Berger at Bentley and Ritzer at Assumption -- Ritzer would send her regular notes.

“There were no holidays or birthdays needed,” she said. “They were random and basically said ‘I miss you and can’t wait to hang out with you again.’ Simple little things like that.”

Berger knew something was wrong when Ritzer’s parents called her on Tuesday night.

“Her mother called us to see if I knew where she was because she hadn’t been home,” she said.

Yesterday morning, Ritzer’s parents delivered her the devastating news.

“I didn’t think it was real,” she said. “Things like this shouldn’t happen to good people like her.”

Berger said she felt the worst for Ritzer’s family.

“Her parents are the most amazing people,” she said. “They do not deserve any of this.”

Mary Duffy of 7 Dascomb Road, who has been neighbors of the Ritzers for the last 24 or 25 years, said they are a great family.

“I love the family,” she said. “They have a beautiful family. If every family throughout America was like that, there would be no trouble. It would be a Utopia.”

She described Colleen as “pleasant and happy. ... She was not rowdy. She was funny, and she was focused on what was going on. ...

“In this day and age, this isn’t that surprising. It is shocking because I knew her, and I’m devastated by the loss.”

Staff reporters Judy Wakefield, Dustin Luca, Alex Lippa and Bill Burt contributed to this story.

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