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Slain Danvers High Teacher Remembered As Passionate, Inspirational

DANVERS (CBS) --- As police investigate the murder of a 24-year-old math teacher, family and students remembered a woman passionate about her job.

The body of Colleen Ritzer was found in the woods after investigators say they found blood in a second floor bathroom at Danvers High School.

A 14-year-old is now in custody, charged with her murder.

The Ritzer family released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

"At this time we are mourning the tragic death of our amazing, beautiful daughter and sister. Everyone that knew and loved Colleen knew of her passion for 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."

Colleen Ritzer
A moment of silence for fallen teacher 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer before the start of Game One of the 2013 World Series. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Ritzer's uncle tells WBZ-TV, his niece was a "beautiful girl and had a passion for teaching."

Ritzer graduated from Andover High School in 2007 before earning a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in math, magna cum laude from Assumption College in 2011.

She minored in psychology, with a secondary education concentration.

Assumption College President Dr. Francesco Cesareo said Ritzer will be missed.

"The Assumption College campus community mourns the tragic death of Colleen Elizabeth Ritzer, a 2011 alumna who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a minor in psychology with a concentration in secondary education. Colleen worked as a math teacher at Danvers High School and will be missed by all those who knew her. The Assumption community will keep Colleen's family members in its thoughts and prayers during this time of great sorrow and loss. We pray that God will give them strength and comfort during these difficult days and commend Colleen to God's loving presence."

Danvers High senior Ryan Kelleher called Ritzer an inspiration.

"She was extremely nice, she definitely loved coming to school and seeing her students," Kelleher said. "She was very positive and an inspiration."

Ritzer's class website gives a glimpse of what kind of teacher Ritzer was and what she expected from her students.

Ritzer asked students to behave respectfully toward classmates, the environment and the teacher.

She asked students to come to class with a positive attitude and come for extra help before or after school when necessary.

The policies and the rest of a syllabus went home with students and their parents at the beginning of the year.

Danvers public schools were closed Wednesday. The school department released a statement about Ritzer's murder.

"Today, the Danvers Public Schools lost a dynamic and brilliant ray of light. Colleen Ritzer was everything one could ask for in a teacher – dedicated, passionate and invested in her students. Our entire community will feel this loss for many years to come. On behalf of the Danvers' school district, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Colleen's mother, father, brother, sister and extended family. Please hold them in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time."

Ritzer's Twitter feed provided her students with the assigned homework each night.

It also detailed her first try at making apple crisp and urged followers to "find something good in everyday."

A tweet over the summer read:

"No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind."

There was a moment of silence prior to Game 1 of the World Series, Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

Hundreds attended a vigil Wednesday night at Danvers High School.


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