‘In a better place’: Florida mom accused of killing son admits leading him to canal, police say

Florida mom charged in murder of 9-year-old son, she claimed was kidnapped

MIAMI — A South Florida woman accused in the drowning death of her 9-year-old son admitted the child is “going to be in a better place” police said.

Patricia Ripley, 47, was arrested Saturday morning and charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the death of her son, Alejandro Ripley, the Miami Herald reported. Alejandro Ripley was found dead Friday morning in a pond at the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club in western Miami-Dade County. Less than a day earlier, his mother had reported he had been abducted by two men who forced her van off a Miami-Dade County road, the newspaper reported.

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Authorities said the murder was well-planned and that Patricia Ripley actually tried drowning the boy earlier Thursday. Surveillance video showed a woman, whom police believe is Ripley, pushing the boy into a canal at the Kendall Acres Condominium complex around 7:30 p.m. Thursday, WPLG-TV reported. According to police, a neighbor rescued the boy from the canal, the Herald reported.

“An hour later, she brought the boy to a different canal ... this time, there was no one there to save him,” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said at a news conference Saturday.

During questioning, police said Patricia Ripley eventually admitted the kidnapping story was false, the Herald reported. At about 8:30 p.m., in her second attempt, she “led the victim to the canal where he drowned. She states he’s going to be in a better place," police said.

Alejandro Ripley was autistic and non-verbal and had attended a school for special-needs children, the Herald reported.

Patricia Ripley appeared during a brief court hearing Saturday on closed-circuit television, the newspaper reported. Judge Oscar Rodriguez Fonts ruled there was “probable cause” to keep her in jail, WPLG reported.

The boy’s father, Aldo Ripley, disputed the charges against his wife, WSVN reported.

“The only thing I’ll say is that we love our life, we love Alejandro, and we don’t agree with whatever they say about my wife,” Aldo Ripley told reporters. “It’s not real.”

Nelson Rodriguez-Varela, who is Patricia Ripley’s defense attorney, refused to address the allegations.

"We’re going to leave that to another day to discuss,” Rodriguez-Varela told reporters. “There is obviously a great deal of support for her. By all accounts, she has been an excellent mother, an excellent person.”

Patricia Ripley, right, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 9-year-old son, Alejandro Ripley.
Patricia Ripley, right, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 9-year-old son, Alejandro Ripley. (Miami-Dade County Police)