SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – A witness who possibly saw the first alleged attempt by Patricia Ripley to leave her son, Alejandro, to drown said he didn’t think anything was unusual when he saw the two at the canal behind the Kendall Acres Condominiums at 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive.
“Kids fall in the canal all the time. We’ve lived her for 25 years,” said the witness who didn’t want to be identified. “Usually you grab them yank them out and away you go.”
He described seeing the boy Thursday night sitting in the canal. The witness said the water was about up to the child’s chest. “The only odd thing was that she kind of started screaming and calling his name a couple of times. It was weird. Then she turned around and ran off screaming,” the man said.
That’s when the witness called out to the boy, not realizing Alejandro was autistic and non verbal.
"He was just sitting there and I tried to speak to him a couple times and he looked at me. That’s when she returned with an older couple. At the time, I thought they were together because the woman was really giving it to her. She was screaming at her, 'What are you doing? ‘Why’d you leave the kid there?’ "
Then an older man pulled the boy out of the water. “They just dried him off and they walked away. The older couple went into the hallway and she walked to the south with him,” the witness recalled.
Police said Ripley admitted to driving to another pond-like canal about six miles away at the Miccosukee Gold and County Club around 8:30 p.m. Thursday night, where she led him into the water to drown.
The incident sparked a search and an Amber Alert Thursday night when Ripley first called police to say that the boy had been abducted after she was said two men ambushed her. Ripley told police that a blue, four-door sedan sideswiped her car, causing her to crash at Southwest 158th Avenue and Southwest 88th Street. Then, she said, the driver of the sedan got out of the car, armed with a knife and demanded drugs from her before snatching her mobile phone, a computer tablet and Alejandro.
Detectives interviewed the mother well into the evening Thursday and into Friday morning, when the boy’s body was found at 7:50 a.m.
They said she supplied conflicting statements during those interviews. They also became suspicious when they saw surveillance video from a Home Depot. That’s when they say Ripley waited in her parked car for more than 15 minutes before she called police about the abduction. Other surveillance video showed video of a woman who police believe is Ripley pushing the boy into the canal near the Kendall Acres Condominium complex around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
The witness said what he saw Thursday night was an opportunity for Patricia Ripley to make a better choice.
“That was the sad part is, she tried it and it didn’t work, so maybe that’s time to collect yourself and go on a different path.”
Many questions still remain about what led up to the incident. On Saturday, a judge in Miami allowed no bond in her case. She is charged with one count of murder in the first degree and one count of pre-meditated attempted murder in the first degree. She remains jailed at the Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center in Miami.
“He is going to be in a better place,” Patricia Ridley said during her confession, according to detectives.