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Teacher found dead outside Boston area school; student arrested

BOSTON - A 24-year-old math teacher was found dead outside a suburban Boston high school, and a 14-year-old student has been taken into custody as the suspect in the killing, a local prosecutor said on Wednesday.

Police in Danvers, Massachusetts, began an investigation late on Tuesday after receiving calls that a student at the school and a teacher had not gone home, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett told reporters on Wednesday.

After discovering blood in a second-floor bathroom, police extended their search to the woods behind the school, where they located the body of teacher Colleen Ritzer.

"It was apparent that she was a homicide victim," Blodgett said. "This is a terrible tragedy."

Ritzer is the second U.S. educator this week to die in an incident involving a student, after a Nevada middle school teacher was shot dead by a 12-year-old student on Monday.

The student, Philip Chism, is due to be charged as an adult in Salem District Court on Wednesday, according to the court clerk's office. Authorities had withheld Chism's name until they decided to charge him as an adult.

He was found walking along a highway about 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT).

Massachusetts law allows people as young as 14 to be charged as adults when the crime is murder. The distinction means that, if convicted, Chism could face a longer prison sentence and confinement in an adult prison rather than a youth facility.

Investigators from the local medical examiner's office on Wednesday carried a stretcher out of the woods where Ritzer's body was found.

Students from the school left bouquets and a teddy bear in front of the school in Ritzer's memory.

Danvers police on Tuesday had issued a missing-child report for Chism, who they said was found early on Wednesday.

All public schools in Danvers, which is about 20 miles north of Boston, were closed on Wednesday, although police believed there was no continuing threat to public safety.

"We have no reason to believe there were any other suspects involved," Blodgett said.

Blodgett declined to comment on how Ritzer was killed or if she might have had any type of relationship with the student.

In the shooting incident in Nevada on Monday, teacher Michael Landsberry, 45, was shot and killed when he tried to stop the 12-year-old student armed with a handgun after he wounded two fellow students, then later turned the gun on himself.