MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Nine-year-old Alejandro Ripley is dead. And in a sinister twist, detectives and prosecutors are accusing his mother, Patricia Ripley, of killing him in southwest Miami-Dade County.
A day after she told police officers two men had abducted her son, the 45-year-old mother arrived at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center to face charges of first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder. She is being held on Saturday without bond.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the mother lied about the abduction. She said detectives found a video showing she pushed Alejandro about 7:30 p.m. Thursday into a canal at 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive. Witnesses rescued him the first time, Fernandez Rundle said.
The second crime scene was at a canal at Southwest 62nd Street and 138th Court. Detectives said Patricia Ripley admitted to driving there about 8:30 p.m. and pushing Alejandro into the pond-like canal at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club where he drowned.
“This time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him,” Fernandez Rundle said.
Alejandro was an autism spectrum disorder patient. Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez III said he was heartbroken. Alejandro was a non-verbal boy and his mother was supposed to be his voice, he said.
“He is going to be in a better place,” Patricia Ridley said during her confession, according to detectives.
When she appeared in Miami-Dade court on Saturday, Alejandro’s father, Aldo Ripley, was there in tears.
Antoinette Uribe said she knows the Ripley family. She said Alejandro and her son were both patients at the My Kid Therapy Center in Country Walk.
“He was the world to his parents,” Uribe said.
Uribe was among the couple of dozen people who attended a memorial service Friday afternoon at The Friendship Circle of Miami, a nonprofit organization that offers services for children with special needs. They remembered Alejandro as a sweet and happy boy.
While detectives were still investigating the case, Uribe and others at the memorial were convinced that two evil madmen had abducted Alejandro about 8:40 p.m. on Thursday and killed him.
Detectives were suspicious when they saw surveillance video at Home Depot, at 15750 SW 88 St., in The Hammocks. Fernandez Rundle said Patricia Ripley waited in her parked car for more than 15 minutes before lying about the abduction.
Detective Angel Rodriguez, a spokesman for the police department, said Alejandro’s mother provided a detailed account.
“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,” Rodriguez wrote. “The vehicle then blocked her.”
The mother said the men ambushed her at Southwest 158th Avenue and Southwest 88th Street. One of them was armed with a knife when he demanded drugs before snatching her mobile phone, a tablet and Alejandro, Rodriguez said.
When officers found Alejandro dead about 7:50 a.m. on Friday in the quiet Kendale Lakes neighborhood, he was still wearing the Captain America T-shirt his mother had told officers about on Thursday night. Officers noted there was trauma to his head and he was wearing a diaper.
Detective Christian Thomas, a spokesman for the department, didn’t reveal any details about the death investigation, but he said detectives were still in communication with Patricia Ripley.
“We are taking every detail into consideration,” Thomas said.
To help find Alejandro, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an Amber Alert on Thursday night. About an hour after officers placed the crime scene tape next to the golf course, the FDLE announced the Amber Alert was canceled.
“We are very sad to report that the child was found deceased,” an FDLE spokesperson wrote on Twitter asking anyone with information to call police at 305-476-5423.
Thomas and Rodriguez also asked anyone with information about the case to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.