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October 24, 2013

Students, friends shocked by teacher's murder

(Continued)

DANVERS, Mass. —

Police discovered blood in a second-floor bathroom of the high school before finding Ritzer's body. Chism was discovered just after midnight, walking along a busy highway.

In her nearby hometown of Andover, where Ritzer still lived, friends remembered her cheerful personality and devotion to her students.

“She was just an amazing person who loved life,” said Jennifer Berger, who graduated with Ritzer from Andover High School in 2007. The two went to elementary and middle school together, as well, and hung out last weekend, watching the Red Sox game on television.

“She was so kind and caring,” Berger said. “She could find joy in the littlest things in life. If she was having a bad day, she would find a quote from a song that would turn it around.

“I just want people to know how amazing she was. ... She was my go-to best friend. I just can’t believe she is gone,” she said, before breaking down into tears.

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."

Ritzer was also an ice-hockey nut. Though she never played, she enjoyed watching her younger sister, Laura, who is still in high school.

“She loved her little sister and liked supporting Laura, so she would go to her games,” Berger said. Ritzer also has a younger brother, Daniel, now a student at the University of Connecticut.

Ritzer was a thoughtful friend who sent regular notes to Berger when the two were away from each other at college — Berger at Bentley College near Boston, and Ritzer at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass.

“They were random and basically said, ‘I miss you and can’t wait to hang out with you again.’ Simple little things like that,” she said.

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