Mother charged with murder following death of 9-year-old boy with autism in SW Miami-Dade

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - The mother of a 9-year-old boy with autism who was found dead near a Southwest Miami-Dade golf course has been arrested and charged with murder, and police said she has confessed to killing her son after claiming he had been abducted.

Patricia Ripley, the mother of Alejandro Ripley, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder, early Saturday morning.

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

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle held a press conference at 11 a.m., Saturday, discussing the case.

The state attorney said Ripley pushed her son, who was nonverbal, into a canal in the area of Southwest 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive at around 7:30 p.m., Thursday.

“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 a different canal.

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

After being confronted with information regarding the first incident, police said in the arrest report that Ripley admitted to driving to a canal near the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club, at Southwest 138th Court and 62nd Street, at around 8:30 p.m.

When she arrived, the mother allegedly led the 9-year-old to the canal, where he would drown, according to the arrest report.

“As a parent, as a member of this community, I am deeply saddened by what happened to that young boy,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez.

Police said Ripley admitted to killing her son after she was taken into custody. The arrest report states, upon revealing the circumstances of the incident, she said, “He’s going to be in a better place.”

“Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. We’re totally shocked. We’ve never seen anything like this in our neighborhood,” said Karlo Medina.

An AMBER Alert was issued after investigators said Alejandro was taken from the parking lot of a Southwest Miami-Dade Home Depot just before 9 p.m., Thursday.

Patricia initially told police two men forced her off the road near Southwest 88th Street and 157th Avenue and blocked her vehicle in.

“The passenger of the vehicle exits the vehicle, approaches the mother and demands drugs,” said Miami-Dade Police detective Angel Rodriguez on Friday. “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.”

The AMBER Alert was cancelled after a passer-by found the boy’s body floating in a canal near the golf course.

“You see something, like this person did, they said something,” Miami-Dade Police Detective Chris Thomas said. “They called us and we came to investigate.”

Meanwhile, 7News cameras spotted undercover detectives at the family’s home on Friday.

“It’s tough. I mean, I have a granddaughter, and I don’t wanna see no kids go through that,” Medina said.

“For everyone that has sent their condolences, I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Alejandro’s older brother said in an Instagram post. “I’ll respond to all of you when I’m able to. All I’m going to say is everyone who knows my family, brother, mother, father, you know. Thank you all and God Bless.”

People have been stopping by the area where detectives pulled the boy’s body from the lake, leaving flowers and hugging each other, wondering what happened.

“It’s horrible. We haven’t had something like this happen in a long time in this county,” a passer-by said. “My heart’s broken.”

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