SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials have cancelled the AMBER Alert issued for a 9-year-old boy with autism after his body was found.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that Alejandro Ripley was found dead, Friday.
An AMBER Alert was issued after investigators said Ripley was taken from the parking lot of a Southwest Miami-Dade Home Depot just before 9 p.m., Thursday.
Ripley’s mother told police two men forced her off the road near Southwest 88th Street and 157th Avenue and blocked her vehicle in.
A passenger in the vehicle got out of the car, came over to Ripley’s mother, pushed her and demanded drugs.
“The passenger of the vehicle exits the vehicle, approaches the mother and demands drugs,” said Miami-Dade Police detective Angel Rodriguez. “The mother is insisting that she does not have any drugs, and so the passenger, at that point, reaches in, grabs her cellphone, steals the cellphone and takes her child.”
Once she told the man she did not have drugs, that is when she said they took her cellphone and pulled Ripley out from inside the car.
FDLE issued an AMBER Alert searching for Ripley and the two men his mother said took him in their light blue sedan.
Early Friday morning, officials found a body in shallow water near Miccosukee Golf & Country Club at Southwest 138th Court and 62nd Street.
On the body was a Captain America T-shirt, which is the same shirt that Ripley’s mother said he was wearing when she reported him missing. Detectives are calling this a homicide investigation after pulling the body out of the lake.
The Miami-Dade medical examiner will have to positively identify the body that was found at the golf course.
“Unfortunately, someone called in and reported that they saw what appeared to be the body of a child,” Miami-Dade Police detective Chris Thomas said.
Shortly after the discovery, 7News cameras captured undercover detectives visiting Ripley’s family’s home.
Officers said they are investigating all details that have been put forward and will be interviewing Ripley’s family.
“We’re gonna go ahead with that information and investigate that case, as it is an abduction,” Thomas said.
Neighbors who would see Ripley playing outside in the neighborhood said they were stunned by the news that he had been tragically found dead.
“I feel sad, like very, very sad. I know how it is to lose someone, but I just hope that they’re OK,” neighbor Megan Manteiga said.
“Heartbreaking, heartbreaking, we are in total shock,” Karlo Medina said. “We’ve never seen this before in our neighborhood. It’s tough. I mean, I have a granddaughter. I don’t want to see no kids go through that.”
As she and the other neighbors are processing the news of Ripley’s untimely passing, investigators are working to piece together everything about the boy and the events leading up to his death.
Ripley’s older brother uploaded a few videos on Instagram of much happier times, showing Ripley and his family enjoying Christmas Day and taking a stroll.
On Friday, his death set a much darker mood in the Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood where he was growing up.
“It’s super sad. I don’t know what to think of it,” neighbor Sofia Cabrera said. “It’s just like one day I saw him playing out there, and now everything happening, it’s just crazy.”
One man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dropped off flowers where the boy’s body was found.
“It’s horrible. We haven’t had something like this happen in a long time in this county,” he said. “My heart’s broken.”
Detectives are canvassing the neighborhood to search for surveillance video that may help them in their investigation.
If you have any information that can help investigators, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.
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