Patricia Ripley, the mother of a 9-year-old severely autistic boy who was found dead in a pond at Miami golf course on Friday morning, was arrested on Saturday morning for his murder.
The married mother-of-two, 45, had initially told police two men had ambushed her while driving and snatched her son, Alejandro, from her vehicle, sparking a frantic statewide search for the boy on Thursday.
She gave several conflicting statements to police but allegedly confessed when cops confronted her with video surveillance footage of her pushing the boy “into the canal,” according to a police report cited by The Miami Herald on Saturday.
Ripley admitted she “led the victim to the canal where he drowned. She states he’s going to be in a better place,” the report said.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle revealed on Saturday that the footage police confronted her with actually depicted one of two attempts Ripley made to drown Alejandro, who was non-verbal.
The video allegedly showed her pushing Alejandro into a canal in the neighborhood of Kendall at about 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Neighbors were able to hear Alejandro’s screams and rescued him from the water, Fernandez Rundle said, according to Local 10 news.
About an hour later, she allegedly pushed Alejandro into a pond-like canal at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club, about 10 minutes’ drive from the first canal.
“This time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him,” Fernandez Rundle said. Alejandro’s body was found on Friday morning.
Alejandro’s father, Aldo Ripley, was in tears during Ripley’s appearance in Miami-Dade court on Saturday, according to local reports.
Ripley had initially told police that two men in a vehicle had cut her off as she drove with Alejandro, and one in a mask approached her car and demanded she give him drugs. When she told him she had none, she said he snatched her cell phone and abducted Alejandro. The 9-year-old was wearing a blue Captain America shirt, black shorts, and black Crocs at the time of the reported abduction.
An Amber Alert was initially sent out for the boy but then cancelled when his body was found Friday.
Police initially said they were not ruling out the abduction theory but investigators had almost immediately begin focusing on the boy’s mother, The Miami Herald reported.
A law enforcement source quoted by the newspaper said security footage from a Home Depot parking lot near where the boy was allegedly abducted showed Patricia Ripley sitting alone in her vehicle for about 20 minutes before she phoned police.
Ripley was being held without bond at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami. She faces charges of second-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder.