Patricia Ripley, the mother of the autistic, non-verbal 9-year-old who was found dead in a golf course canal, is now accused of first-degree murder in the boy’s death, according to court and jail records.
She’s accused of telling police of the boy, “he’s going to be in a better place.” According to the Miami Herald, police now believe that the married mother of two spun an elaborate – and false – tale about being run off the road near Home Depot by two black men who supposedly abducted her son. Police say they’ve obtained video surveillance footage that “showed her pushing the boy ‘into the canal,'” the Herald reported, adding that Ripley is accused of telling police she “led the victim to the canal where he drowned.”
At a press conference held May 23, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle revealed that police are accusing Ripley of trying to drown her son, not once but twice.
“Local residents heard screaming and went to assist and they found Alejandro in the canal and rescued him,” Rundle said. “An hour later, she again brought him and led him to a different canal … this time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him.”
Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez, also present at the press conference, said he was very disappointed by the abduction story Ripley told police. “For her to displace blame of her crime on another community is just as well another crime that was committed,” he said.
The Herald compared the case to the infamous Susan Smith murders. Smith drowned her two children in a car and tried to blame it on a fictitious black man.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed on Twitter that Alejandro was found dead. At a press conference, a spokesperson for Miami Police said before the charges were issued that they were not ruling out foul play. “The Miami-Dade Police Department, Homicide Bureau, are investigating after the body of a young male child was found deceased in a golf course waterway,” an earlier police press release said.
“According to investigators, uniformed officers responded to the south side of the course located along SW 62nd Street and made contact with a witness who discovered the body while walking alongside the embankment. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue also responded and pronounced the child deceased.”
WPLG-10 reported that Alejandro was a patient at My Kid Therapy Center in southwest Miami-Dade county. A woman, Antoinette Uribe, whose child also attended the center told the news station that Alejandro was happy, sweet and said, “He was the world to his parents.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Amber Alert Was Cancelled Just 12 Hours After It Was Issued
An Amber Alert was issued shortly after Patricia Ripley told police that her 9-year-old son was abducted while she was driving, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
The Miami-Dade Police Department (MDPD), Special Victims Bureau, Missing Persons Unit, originally wrote that it was “investigating the abduction of a nine-year-old, autistic male.”
Police gave this account at first before the story unraveled:
According to investigators, the victim was with her son as she was driving westbound on SW 88 Street from 157 Avenue, when she noticed she was being followed by an unknown vehicle. The driver of the unknown vehicle attempted to side-swipe her vehicle, forcing her to veer onto SW 158 Avenue. The vehicle then blocked her in while a male passenger ambushed her, demanding drugs. After stating she didn’t have any drugs, he then stole her cellular phone and abducted her son, fleeing southbound in the unknown vehicle.
Police now say that she actually sat at the Home Depot inside her car alone for 20 minutes before she called police, according to The Miami Herald.
That night, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement described the two abductors as one dressed in all black with a black bandana covering his face and another with cornrows, the Sun-Sentinel reported; the two were driving a light blue sedan.
Roughly 12 hours later, a body was found in the bond of the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club, around four miles from where Ripley had said her son was abducted, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The golf course was on Native American land and the tribe released a statement:
The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida is deeply saddened to hear about the tragic loss of 9-year-old Alejandro Ripley. The Tribe is fully cooperating with authorities in their investigation and offer their sincerest condolences to his family.
After Florida police announced that Alejandro was dead on Twitter, people immediately said they were suspicious of Ripley’s story.
Patricia Ripley Admits She Lied About The Abduction, CBS-4 Reports
Miami-Dade police spokesman Christopher Sowerby-Thomas told the Miami Herald that Ripley, her husband and other family were being interviewed at police headquarters by homicide detectives.
The Herald also reported that “a source familiar with the investigation” said that there was also a security camera at a Home Depot near where Ripley said her son was abducted. The footage, according to the Herald’s reporting, seemed to contradict Ripley’s account, as it showed her sitting in her car without Alejandro for 20 minutes before she called to say that her son had been abducted.
According to CBS-4, Ripley’s mother made the admission after police said they found witnesses who saw her with him near the location of where his body was found.
According to WPLG-10, when Alejandro’s body was found in the small lake on the south side of the golf course, “Miami-Dade Police Department officers noted there was trauma to his head.”