In the brutal slaying of teacher Colleen Ritzer, the mystery grows over teen-killer Philip Chism's motive, and the real reason a judge has ordered court documents and search warrants in his case sealed.
As the 14-year-old Chism sits in jail, held without bond and facing adult charges for murdering his math teacher Colleen Ritzer this October, a battle is shaping up between the criminal justice system and the press regarding full access and disclosure.
The matter is already vague enough because, thus far, the teenager has not offered detectives any explanation for the gruesome killing, although he has admitted to it.
Indeed, many of Chism's incriminating movements that day were captured on school cameras, evidence which also serves to corroborate his grisly confession.
But some of those images, together with search warrants and other legal documents the press would like to review for their coverage of the case, are now being hidden from public view -- either recently sealed or subject to gag orders.
This week, exasperated by that media shutout, some major news outlets have mounted a challenge to being deliberately left in the dark about the Colleen Ritzer homicide investigation and her murderous young pupil.
They insist people need to know all the facts and that the contents of such a government record, no matter how sensitive or disturbing, should always be open for scrutiny.
The success of their legal bid to unseal those criminal records is not assured, however, since regardless of whether the accused is a minor or not, Philip Chism isn't the first high-profile defendant whose otherwise tenuous right to a fair trial has been protected in this way by the courts.
Even Colorado theater killer James Holmes, who police caught red-handed and red-haired within only moments of his perpetrating the largest mass slaying in American history, and who likewise confessed on the spot, was granted similarly sweeping protections.
And it took months if not years for all of those to finally be lifted, with some facts never being completely revealed.
Like Holmes, Chism too initially pleaded not guilty and, apart from that now-seemingly indefensible pleading, there are other defense concerns that the court may be addressing by pulling the curtains closed on probing reporters.
After all, the murder of 24-year-old Colleen Ritzer is still fresh; the investigation into it complex and ongoing; and the likelihood that she wasn't her killer's first victim a theory that also has to be thoroughly explored.
Therefore nothing, not even the possibility of an accomplice, can be ruled out yet.
Judiciously balancing the rights of everyone involved in a sensational case like this one, whilst ensuring 'Due Process' for the defendant, is not simple or easy: The victim, the accused, the witnesses -- dead or alive all of these individuals must be guaranteed justice -- which often requires a great degree of secrecy.
op-ed by Eponymous Rox, for Killing Killers