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Ritzer Family Statement on Jury Verdict

CR Sticker Opt 2(SALEM, Massachusetts)-Tom, Peggie, Dan and Laura Ritzer today issued the following statement.

“Our family would like to thank the jury for their fair and careful consideration of the evidence and overwhelming facts presented during the past few weeks. We would also like to thank Judge David Lowy for his commitment to bringing this trial to completion.

While we are pleased with the verdict, we are aware that the judicial process will continue. Appeals will certainly be filed and, given the state’s guidelines for so-called “juvenile sentencing,” we may be forced to once again publically endure this pain and suffering during parole hearings. This guilty verdict, while the beginning of justice for Colleen, is certainly no cause for celebration as there can never be true justice for the crime committed. There remains a tremendous and painful absence in our lives, one that, sadly, can never be replaced.

Our family enters a new phase in our lives, one that we have no choice but to begin. However, we do so knowing of the remarkable difference Colleen made in her short life, and continues to make in the lives of so many. We continue to witness Colleen’s impact among her students and those who never had the opportunity to call her a teacher, friend, sister or daughter. Her spirit continues, particularly in the recipients of the scholarships given in her name – those who plan to emulate Colleen by pursuing their dreams to become caring and compassionate teachers.

As part of this new phase in our lives, we, our family and friends, will continue our efforts to share Colleen’s story and how one person can make a profound difference in the lives of so many. We will honor her legacy and be her voice during the continued judicial process. Colleen never gave up, and neither will we. We will not allow her death to define how she is remembered.

In our darkest hours, there have been a number of individuals, in addition to our family and friends, who provided a shoulder to cry on, a captive ear to listen or devoted their professional and personal resources to ensure a just resolution to this agonizing ordeal.

We want to express our gratitude to Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett and his office, particularly Kate MacDougall, Melissa Woodard, David O’Sullivan and Maureen Leal, for their passionate efforts to ensure justice for our daughter and sister, Colleen. Their personal attention to this case, inside and outside of the courtroom, was comforting to our family during this difficult time. Their steadfast dedication to fairly presenting the facts of this case while demonstrating paramount respect for Colleen, and caring and compassion to our family, despite difficult circumstances are beyond appreciated.

We also share our sincere appreciation with the law enforcement community who viewed this as more than just a “case.” The Massachusetts State Police, Danvers Police Department, Essex County Sheriffs and the Salem Superior Court Officers have demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism and sincere compassion since our unfortunate meeting two years ago. In their caring actions, especially those of Detective Lieutenant Norman Zuk and Trooper Steven Buccheri, we have witnessed the same kindness that defined Colleen.

One of Colleen’s favorite quotes was “there is something good in every day.” To celebrate our love for her and in recognition of the many lives Colleen touched and continues to influence, despite the immense loss we are forced to endure, we will carry on and do our very best to find the good in every day.”