As the Andover and Danvers communities begin to cope with the shocking death of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer, there's an outpouring of love for the 24-year-old Andover woman.
Ritzer was found dead near Danvers High School Wedensday morning, and authorities say she was murdered. A 14-year-old male was arrested and was arraigned on a murder charge in Salem District Court around 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
The Ritzer family issued the following statement Wednesday:
"At this time we are mourning the tragic death of our amazing daughter and sister. Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion, her teaching and how she mentored each and every one of her students. We would like to ask everyone to respect our privacy at this most difficult time. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers."
Among the many joys in Colleen Ritzer's life was math. She taught math at Danvers High School, and her Twitter page is full of commentary on math, mathematical equations and more. In fact her last tweet, on Monday, was about geometry.
Ritzer is remembered for her kindness and loving nature.
"She had a grace and compassion beyond her years," friend Sara Brandolini said. Ritzer babysat Brandolini's daughter, Anna. "This world is a better place because she was a part of it."
Ritzer graduated from Andover High School in 2007.
Andover Superintendent Marinel McGrath issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:
"Today we mourn the tragic loss of Colleen Ritzer, a teacher at Danvers High School and a 2007 graduate of AHS," McGrath said. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the Ritzer family and the Danvers Public School Community at this difficult time."
Ritzer graduated from Assumption College in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. She was currently a graduate student at Salem State University, in the university's School Counseling program.
Salem State University tweeted: "Our thoughts go out to family & friends of Colleen Ritzer. She was bright student & dedicated teacher who helped students realize potential."