KENDALE LAKES, Fla. – Flowers, balloons, toys, and stuffed animals were some of the items mourners left behind a growing memorial near to where officers recovered a 9-year-old boy’s body on Friday in Miami-Dade County’s quiet Kendale Lakes neighborhood. His mother remains in jail on Monday facing charges for trying to kill him and for drowning him, prosecutors said.
Residents at The Kendall Acres Condominiums at 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive said they are still haunted by the tragedy. Alejandro Ripley was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. He is a non-verbal patient, so he couldn’t tell the man who rescued him from a canal that his mother had tried to kill him, police said.
Kendall Acres Condominiums residents were key in solving the case, police said. When the photo of Alejandro was on the news Thursday night, someone recognized him as the boy who nearly drowned but was rescued. The witnesses helped detectives find surveillance video showing a woman who detectives identified as Patricia Ripley, 45.
In an attempt to get away with murder, detectives said Patricia Ripley lied when she reported two men had abducted her son about 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Southwest 158th Avenue and Kendall Drive.
Detectives grew suspicious when surveillance video showed she was in her car for about 15 minutes before she reported the fake abduction. There were also inconsistencies in her detailed account, police said.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued an Amber Alert on Thursday night and canceled it on Friday morning when officers found Alejandro’s body. He was wearing a Captain America T-shirt, black shorts, a diaper and Crocs.
When detectives confronted Patricia Ripley with the evidence, she said Alejandro was “in a better place,” according to the arrest report.
Officers arrested the 45-year-old mother early Saturday morning. Hours later, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said surveillance video showed her pushing him in a canal about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
When she appeared in court on Saturday afternoon, Alejandro’s father, Aldo Ripley, was in tears.
“We love Alejandro,” the grieving father said, adding “we do not agree with everything they say about my wife.”
The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office Forensic Investigator Daniel Cerna announced on Monday that Alejandro drowned. Patricia Ripley faces charges of first-degree murder and premeditated attempted murder. She is being held without bond.