MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Detectives on Friday afternoon were going in and out of the family home of a 9-year-old autistic boy who was found dead after police say he was abducted Thursday night in The Hammocks.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement canceled an Amber Alert for Alejandro Ripley on Friday morning, saying his body had been found.
Sky 10 was above the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club after authorities said the body of a child was pulled from a nearby canal in the area of Southwest 62nd Street and 138th Court. Miami-Dade County police say they’re operating under the assumption that the body is that of Ripley.
“Unfortunately someone called in and reported that they saw what appeared to be the body of a child,” said Chris Thomas, a detective with the Miami-Dade Police Department.
The area is just four miles away from where Alejandro was allegedly abducted in Southwest Miami-Dade.
According to Miami-Dade police, the boy’s mother, Patricia Ripley, 47, said she was driving west on Southwest 88th Street from 157th Avenue Thursday night when she noticed that she was being followed by a light blue, four-door sedan.
Police said the driver tried to side-swipe Ripley’s car, forcing her to veer onto Southwest 158th Avenue.
The car then blocked her as a passenger got out of the car, ambushing Ripley and demanding drugs from her, authorities said.
Police said Ripley told the man she didn’t have any drugs, at which time he snatched her son and her cellphone before getting back in the car and fleeing south.
“She noticed she was being followed by a vehicle she did not recognize,” detective Angel Rodriguez said. “At some point that vehicle ambushed her, causing her to veer off the road.”
Police say the passenger of the blue sedan was wearing a black bandana on his face as a mask.
Police said Alejandro’s mother and father are being questioned by detectives as they try to gather more details about what happened. Neighbors told Local 10 News that the family was at the police station all night and hasn’t returned home.
Plain-clothes police were seen going into the family’s home Friday afternoon.
“Were just trying to piece together everything,” Thomas said. “Were not ruling out foul play, but it may not be so, well see.”
One neighbor described Alejandro, who was nonverbal, as a special boy who liked to play in his yard and with his tablet.
“He was an angel,” the neighbor said. “All I can say is, it’s so painful. It’s very, very painful.”
Antoinette Uribe says her child and Alejandro both went to My Kid Therapy Center in Country Walk, where staff and therapists held a memorial for the 9-year-old victim Friday.
“He was always with a smile, never angry or sad, just the happiest kid in the world,” Uribe said.
A spokeswoman from the Florida Department of Children and Families confirmed to Local 10 News that DCF “had no prior involvement” with the family.
“The tragic loss of this young man is devastating, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who knew and loved him,” a statement from the department read. “We stand ready to support law enforcement during the course of their investigation; however, at this time, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) does not have an open child protective investigation.”
Police say that at this point they are struggling to find witnesses to the alleged abduction, so they’re asking anyone who saw or knows something about what happened to come forward.
Anybody with information about the case is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-8477.