A Florida mother who told police that her 9-year-old son with autism was abducted from the parking lot of a Home Depot in Miami has now been charged in his murder.
Patricia Ripley was taken into custody late Friday night and charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and premeditated murder in the death of her son, Alejandro Ripley.
Alejandro, who was nonverbal, was found dead Friday morning, hours after authorities issued an Amber Alert and launched an intensive search for him.
"We are very sad to report that the child was found deceased," the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
Police have obtained a video showing that Ripley pushed Alejandro into a canal around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a news conference on Saturday.
Residents heard screaming, found the child and they rescued him.
Rundle said about an hour later, Ripley went to a different canal and “this time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him.”
“The tragic loss of the life of a 9-year-old boy, and the loss of any young life, leaves all of us grieving," she said. "This boy’s senseless death will stay with all of us.”
Ripley had told Miami-Dade police that she and her son were followed and ambushed Thursday night in a Home Depot parking lot by two men in a vehicle who demanded drugs.
"The driver of the unknown vehicle attempted to side-swipe her vehicle," police said in a statement. "The vehicle then blocked her in while a male passenger ambushed her, demanding drugs."
Ripley said she told the men she didn't have any drugs and that they then stole her cellphone and abducted Alejandro. Rundle said surveillance video from the parking lot shows Ripley sat in her car for about 15 minutes before reporting the alleged abduction.
A child's body was found about four miles from where the Alejandro was reported taken, the Miami-Dade police said.