Middlesex County

Parents of murdered Danvers teacher Colleen Ritzer fight to keep wrongful death lawsuit alive

LAWRENCE, Mass. — The parents of murdered Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer appeared in Lawrence District Court Tuesday, where their lawyer argued that the family’s wrongful death lawsuit should not be thrown out, but instead decided by a jury.

Thomas and Peggie Ritzer are suing DiNisco Design Partnership, alleging the state of the art video surveillance system installed at Danvers High School did not protect Colleen Ritzer.

Colleen Ritzer was 24 years old on October 22, 2013 when one of her students, Phillip Chism, fatally attacked her after school.

In 2015, Chism was convicted of killing Ritzer in a women’s bathroom, stuffing her body into a recycling bin, and then burying her body nearby.

Much of the crime was recorded on a brand new video surveillance system.

And it was that video that helped convict Chism.

But the Ritzer’s say that system was not working properly on the day of the murder, that no one was monitoring the system in real time, and no alerts were sent that could have helped Colleen.

The designers of that system say it was working properly and the town chose not to have someone monitor the cameras.

The designers are asking a judge to throw out the lawsuit.

The Ritzer’s want the case to move forward.

The Ritzer family left the courtroom without speaking to us.

But their lawyer told us they are pursing this lawsuit in an attempt to make the school safer for others.

“They just want to make sure that systems that say they are going to provide these video surveillance systems are there to prevent, not just to capture and to see what happened after the fact, but to be able to respond to events as they are happening. So that teachers and students are safe,” said Ritzer’s attorney Daniel Murphy.

A Lawrence Superior Court Judge has taken the matter under advisement.

His decision could come at any time.

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