A 9-year-old boy suffering from severe autism, was found dead in a Southwest Miami-Dade canal on Friday morning, hours after an intense search operation, according to authorities. In a sinister twist, the child's mother has now been arrested in connection to his murder.
On Thursday, May 21, the boy's mother had told police that her son, Alejandro Ripley, had been abducted by two men who had forced her to pull her car over and demanded drugs before taking the child away near a Home Depot parking lot.
The alleged incident triggered a Florida Amber Alert and a 12-hour long manhunt by law enforcement for the child, which came to a halt after a witness reported a body floating in a pond at a golf course four miles from where the alleged abduction took place.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the deceased individual was identified as Alejandro, who suffered from a form of autism that had rendered him mute.
Alejandro's Alleged Abduction
According to Miami-Dade police, while reporting the abduction, she told officers that she was driving with Alejandro when she noticed that she was being followed by two black males in a light blue sedan,
She said the driver of the unknown vehicle then attempted to side-swipe her vehicle and then blocked her. Then one of them, who was wearing black clothing had his face covered with a bandanna, emerged from the passenger side of the vehicle, demanding drugs from her. After she told the alleged suspect that she didn't have any drugs, he apparently stole her cell phone and pulled Alejandro out of the vehicle before driving off.
Mother's Story Didn't Add Up
Patricia, 45, arrived at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Saturday, May 23 to face charges of first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder after she admitted to making up the story about Alejandro's abduction. Her bail has been set at $10,000.
The mother reportedly broke down and confessed after police found witnesses who claim to have seen the mother with the child near the lake where the child's body was eventually found.
Moreover, a source close to the investigation revealed that a CCTV camera at a Home Depot where the alleged abduction took place showed Ripley sitting in her car alone, without Alejandro, for 20 minutes before she called police at 8.47 p.m. However, the smoking gun in the case was CCTV footage recovered by investigators showing Patricia intentionally pushing and drowning the child into the pond.
While the motive behind the alleged murder is not yet known, Miami-Dade County court records reveal the special needs school where Alejandro was studying had sued Patricia in 2016 over $4,100 unpaid tuition for her son. The case settled months later after mediation.