• Patricia Ripley was arrested by Miami-Dade police and charged with murder and attempted murder for the death of her son, Alejandro Ripley
  • Alejandro's body was found on Friday after his mother told police he was kidnapped the night before by two men 
  • Police attention turned to Ripley after a finding a video of her allegedly pushing Alejandro into a canal the night he disappeared

The mother of an autistic boy in Florida who was found dead was in police custody Monday after being charged with her son’s murder. Patricia Ripley, 45, initially said her son had been abducted.

Ripley was arrested by Miami-Dade police on Friday for the death of her son, Alejandro, 9, and charged with murder and attempted murder. She was booked at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami-Dade County.

“The tragic loss of the life of a 9-year-old boy, and the loss of any young life, leaves all of us grieving,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle told reporters. “This boy’s senseless death will stay with all of us.”

Police said her arrest came after police obtained footage allegedly showing Ripley pushing Alejandro into a canal in Kendall, Florida, around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. He reportedly started screaming for help, prompting several residents to rush to the boy’s aid.

“We were over here and we overheard some screaming,” Elier Pozo, one of the witnesses, told Miami CBS-affiliate, WFOR. “We were looking over to the canal and we saw the boy’s head popping in and out of the water.”

Pozo said he ran over to help, but another resident was already in the canal helping Alejandro.

“So they pulled him out by the arms,” Pozo said. “It was like two meters and they got him out of the canal and it looked like everything was fine.”

While Pozo said nothing seemed strange, another witness said she was suspicious after seeing Alejandro fall into the canal. The witness, who asked to not be identified, said she was outside her home when she saw Ripley and Alejandro walking toward the canal before Alejandro fell in. She said she screamed for her husband, who rushed to help save the young boy.

“The only weird thing was that at first she was just standing there until she saw me screaming, and that’s when she took off screaming for help” the witness told Miami Fox-affiliate, WSVN.

Ripley was seen leaving the area, but allegedly drove to another canal an hour later and pushed Alejandro in.

It was originally believed Alejandro was killed after allegedly being abducted by two men while Ripley was out with her son on Thursday. She told police she was cut off near an intersection when the men ran up to her car demanding drugs then grabbed her son and phone and fled. Alejandro’s body was then found on Friday at a Miami country club.

“These statements ... contradicted the statements of witnesses and the video footage obtained from the area,” the police affidavit said. “Upon being confronted with this information, the defendant recanted her initial story including that she had been robbed.”

Ripley attorney Nelson Rodriguez Varela pushed back against the arrest and charges.

“Our position is that Mrs. Ripley is a good woman and mother who always looked after the best interest of her son Alejandro. This is not the time to rush to judgment in this matter. At this very preliminary stage, Mrs. Ripley is presumed innocent as any person charged with a crime would be,” Varela told reporters.

Police Scene
Representational image of a crime scene. Suzanne Cordiero/AFP/Getty Images