Police investigate mother in death of 9-year-old boy with autism
The mother of Alejandro Ripley is the primary focus of the investigation into his death and admitted playing a role in his death, a senior law enforcement source told CBS 4 News.
The source also said that the mother admitted making up the story about two black men abducting her child.
The law enforcement source said the mother broke down 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.
An Amber Alert for 9-year-old Alejandro, who was allegedly abducted from his mother’s car Thursday night, was canceled on Friday morning.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Alejandro was found dead.
Friday, at around 7:50 a.m., a body found floating in a lake in the area of SW 62 Street and 138 Court in southwest Miami-Dade at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club near where the boy was taken.
“We can see there is a deceased body of a child in the water on the south side of the golf course,” said Detective Chris Thomas.
While police are not confirming its Ripley, they told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they are proceeding in this case as if it was him.
“Alejandro Ripley was reported as abducted last night. We are not ruling out the possibility that this could be the same case, the same person. But, of course, we have to wait for homicide to do their investigation so we can make a positive ID and make contact with the family members to see if this is actually the same person,” said Thomas.
Patricia Ripley and her son Alejandro, who is autistic, non-verbal, were driving in the area of SW 88th Street and 158th Avenue around 8:30 p.m. when she told police she noticed a car following them.
She then told authorities that when the driver of the car tried to sideswipe Ripley, she veered off the road in front of a Home Depot parking lot. The driver of the car then drove ahead of her and blocked her.
“The passenger of the vehicle exits the vehicle, approaches the mother, and demands drugs. She says she does not have any drugs. And so the passenger at that point reaches in, grabs her cell phone, steals her cell phone, and takes her child,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Angel Rodriguez.
Police questioned those who work at the Home Depot. They are also questioning the boy’s mother.
“She is being interrogated right now. We are also canvassing several areas looking for surveillance tape that might show any vehicles coming in and out,” Thomas said.
The neighborhood where Ripley lived was saddened by the news of his death.
“We are very, very sad. My wife just broke down. We appreciated the little kid. He was autistic but seemed like a very, very happy kid. He was always playing, doing something with his little laptop,” said Boris Ugartechea, a neighbor and friend of the family.
The Friendship Circle of Miami held a memorial service Friday afternoon for Ripley.
The service took place in the parking lot of the Friendship Circle campus at 8700 SW 112 Street.
Around 30 people attended the memorial, walk-up service where everyone got out of their cars.
Rabbi Yossi Harlig told D’Oench, “Even though I did not know Alejandro he was like everyone’s child, especially when you raise a child with special needs. That comes with challenges. For us we want the community to know that we hold him dear to our heart. If one child’s life is lost, it affects all of us.”
Sympathy cards, mementos, and flowers were collected and then delivered to the family.
Those who knew the Alejandro say he stood out for his happiness.
“Every time I saw Alejandro he was like the happiest kid ever,” said Antoinette Uribe.”Never a frown. He was always smiling.”
Uribe says her son and Alejandro attended My Kid Therapy Center together. She said she saw Alejandro every day. Employees of the center gathered a memorial for Alejandro on Friday afternoon at the Friendship Circle. Uribe said Alejandro appeared especially close to his father.
“Alejandro would be so happy to see his dad,” she said. “He would give him a kiss. They would say ‘I love you.’”