Gori said the Ritzer family has been active members of St. Augustine for three generations, starting with Ritzer’s grandparents, Anne Martellucci, who still lives in Andover, and her late husband, Paul. The Martelluccis raised five children in Andover.
The children all attended religious education classes at St. Augustine, with Laura Ritzer the last to make her confirmation last year.
In Colleen Ritzer’s 2007 Andover High School yearbook, Peggie and Thomas Ritzer posted this message next to a baby photo of their daughter: “You are our shining star, our first born. May your future bring you as much joy and happiness as you have brought us. Keep smiling.”
Ritzer’s parents said their oldest daughter put her entire self into her passion for teaching. And while Gori hesitated to speculate, he said her gift for helping others may have unknowingly led to tragedy.
“Anybody who puts themselves out to be helpful to people is identifiable, and it does bring with it a sort of vulnerability,” he said. “But you can’t really help someone without being vulnerable.”
Throughout the day following the murder, a stream of well-wishers went to their home, including several members of the field hockey team, many of whom play ice hockey with Laura.
Leigh Keefe, whose daughter plays on the field hockey team, said a group of players got together on Wednesday and made baked goods, which they then took over to the Ritzer’s home, where they were warmly received.
Friday night, during what was supposed to be the final field hockey game of the season, Andover hosted Danvers. While many thought the game was going to be called off, the Danvers coach insisted it go on.
She said she wanted her girls to be able to lean on each other in difficult times, the true definition of teamwork.