Memorial held for boy with autism found dead in SW Miami-Dade lake

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Dozens of people came together to pay tribute to a special needs boy near the lake in Southwest Miami-Dade where he was found dead, allegedly at the hands of his own mother.

Complete strangers gathered Thursday evening to honor the life of Alejandro Ripley, one week after his life was tragically cut short.

“We need to bring attention to this. We need to give him the voice that he deserves,” said area resident Evelyn Cuevas.

“As a parent and grandparent, I just can’t believe what happened, and I think it deserves this and more,” said Malena Larriega, who organized the memorial.

Alejandro’s body was found floating in the lake at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club, last Friday morning.

Hours earlier, investigators said, his mother, Patricia Ripley, called police claiming she had been ambushed by two men who kidnapped the 9-year-old.

But authorities said the mother murdered her son. She was later arrested and charged for the crime.

At a news conference held Saturday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said that wasn’t Patricia’s first attempt.

“The police obtained a video that shows Ripley pushed Alejandro into a canal. Local residents heard screaming and went to assist, and they found Alejandro in the canal, and they rescued him,” she said.

But an hour later, Fernandez Rundle said, the boy’s mother led him to the lake.

“This time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him,” she said.

Patricia was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder. Police said she confessed to throwing the child into the lake.

Thursday’s memorial was held feet away from where Alejandro’s body was discovered.

Mourners lit candles and said prayers in front of flowers and stuffed animals lining the lake. A Captain America shirt, similar to the one Alejandro was wearing when he was found wearing, lay on the ground with the word “hero” written on it.

“That poor child, he didn’t have someone to defend him,” said Cuevas.

While the boy’s mother waits to learn her fate, members of a heartbroken community continue mourning the little boy with autism who, police said, was killed by the one person who should have protected him the most.

“I think everybody, and not just me, feels the same way. They’re affected; they’re hurt,” said Larriega. “They probably think, ‘Why?’ I think everybody is asking why.”

Patricia is being held without bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in West Miami-Dade.

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