Police: Neighbors pulled boy from water an hour before mother pushed him a second time

Patricia Ripley charged with murder and pre-meditated murder after she recants abduction story

SOUTHWEST MIAMI DADE, Fla. – In spite of the heinous crime his wife stands accused of, Aldo Ripley, an emotional husband and father came to Patricia Ripley’s defense. The 45-year-old mother faced a judge Saturday on charges of murder and premeditated attempted murder in connection with the death of her son, Alejandro Ripley, whose lifeless body was found floating in a canal Friday.

“We love Alejandro and I don’t agree with whatever they’ve said about my wife,” a sobbing Aldo Ripley said Saturday.

At 11:34 a.m., presiding Judge Oscar Rodriguez Fonts in Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit court of Florida said there was “probable cause” to keep Ripley behind bars, handing down an order of no bond on Count 1, a charge of murder in the first degree, and $100,000 bond for Count 2, pre-meditated attempted murder in the first degree. She remains jailed at the Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center in Miami.

Patricia Ripley, left, faces murder charges in the death of her 9-year-old son, Alejandro.

Police now allege that Ripley had pushed her son into another canal an hour before a second attempt.

Statements of witnesses and surveillance footage show video of a woman who police believe is Ripley pushing the boy into a canal at the Kendall Acres Condominium complex around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Neighbors there intervened before the nine-year-old could drown. An hour later, police say she found another pond-like canal at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club SW 62nd street and 138th Court, where she led Alejandro into the water.

His body was found floating in the canal at 7:50 a.m. Friday.

Her call to police

A call for help placed by Patricia Ripley Thursday night set off an Amber Alert and a desperate search.

The mother who lives in The Hammocks area of Miami-Dade County told police she was followed and ambushed after a vehicle side-swiped her car, causing her to crash. She said that the driver, a black man, got out of the car, armed with a knife, and approached her door, demanding drugs.

Nine-year-old Alejandro Ripley is dead. And in a sinister twist, detectives are accusing his mother, Patricia Ripley, of killing him.

When she said she didn’t have any drugs that’s when the man opened the car door, took her cell phone and computer tablet, then snatched her nine year old before speeding off. Her son was autistic and was not able to communicate because of the disorder, known as non-verbal autism.

Police took Ripley to the Miami-Dade Dade Police Department in Doral. According to the arrest affidavit, during an interview there, that is when she began providing conflicting statements. eventually admitting to making up the harrowing abduction story and confessing to what happened.

Ripley also told police, according to affidavit that “he’s going to be in a better place,” allegedly referring to her son.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle addressed the case at a news conference. “The death of a child is tragic. The killing of a child is horrific,” Fernandez Rundle said.

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Freddy Ramirez said that Ripley committed two crimes in her actions.

"I’m deeply saddened for what happened to that young boy and then for her to displace blame of her crime on another community is just as well another crime that was committed.

With Aldo Ripley by his side, Defense Attorney Nelson Rodriguez Varela cautioned the public about forming an opinion this early in the process.

“They are good people and we would appreciate that everyone reserve judgment for another day once we know a little more about what is going on here,” Rodriguez Varela said.

About the Authors:

Liane Morejon is an Emmy-winning reporter who joined the Local 10 News family in January 2010. Born and raised in Coral Gables, Liane has a unique perspective on covering news in her own backyard.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.