SALEM, Mass. (AP) — A teen charged with raping and killing his high school math teacher had a bloody box cutter and women's underwear in his backpack when he was detained, according to two police officers who testified at a hearing Friday.
But Philip Chism's mother, in her initial police interview, expressed disbelief when investigators suspected he may have hurt someone.
Diana Chism said her son, who recently moved to Massachusetts from Tennessee, did not have a record of violence, but she acknowledged that he was "capable of snapping" under the recent stress of his parents' separation and that his family had a history of mental health issues.
"Anybody is capable of snapping under stressful situations," Diana Chism said in an audio recording played in court. "Please don't tell me someone is dead. . I'm going to pass out."
The mother's police interview and the officers' testimony were part of a pretrial hearing in Essex Superior Court in which Chism's lawyers sought to have the teen's police confession suppressed. The hearing continues Jan. 16.
Chism, now 15, is being tried as an adult. He has pleaded not guilty to the October 2013 murder and aggravated rape of Colleen Ritzer, a popular 24-year-old teacher at Danvers High School.
Chism's lawyers say police coerced him into waiving his rights and making detailed statements about the murder the night he was detained. But prosecutors maintain that Chism and his mother never absolutely invoked the need for a lawyer.
They say Chism's mother considered it but ultimately left her son to decide if he wanted to speak with law enforcement. The officers testifying Friday said Chism did.
"Do I need an attorney?" Diana Chism asks in audio played in court. "I don't have anything to hide. This is just really odd to me."
As the questioning wraps up, she says: "I just want to say my son, as a juvenile, does have a right to legal representation."
Earlier Friday, Topsfield Police Officers Neal Hovey and Joseph DeBernardo testified that they found Philip Chism on a poorly lit stretch of a roadway carrying Ritzer's ID and credit cards.
They were responding to a report of a black male walking after dark on the side of the road.
The officers said they drove Chism back to the police station after learning he had been reported missing in nearby Danvers that night.
At the station, the officers said they found the bloody box cutter and women's underwear in Chism's backpack.
When Hovey asked him whose blood was on the box cutter, the officers said Chism replied: "The girl."
The officers said they then read Chism his rights. They testified Chism understood his rights and continued to answer questions.
DeBernardo said he asked Chism where the girl was. He responded: "Buried in the woods."
The officer then said he asked: "If we find her, can we help her?" Chism said no.
DeBernardo said he seized Chism's sneakers, sweatshirt and a ski mask, all of which appeared to have blood on them.
Authorities say surveillance video from Oct. 22, 2013, shows Chism following Ritzer into a school bathroom, wearing gloves and a hood, then later walking out of the bathroom alone.
A short time later, the video shows Chism pulling a recycling barrel through the school and outside.
Ritzer's body was later found in nearby woods, naked from the waist down and with her throat slit and a note that read, "I hate you all."
A recycling barrel was found near Ritzer's body. Authorities said she was sexually assaulted with a stick.
Prosecutors alleged that after the murder, Chism used Ritzer's credit card to buy fast food and attend a movie at the mall.
Chism has also pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges stemming from an assault on a Department of Youth Services worker while in custody for Ritzer's murder.