Prosecutors will pursue death penalty for mother accused in murder of autistic son

Patricia Ripley admitted to pushing son into pond-like canal in Kendale Lakes last May

MIAMI, Fla. – The mother accused of first-degree murder in the drowning death of her 9-year-old son will be facing the death penalty.

A Miami-Dade grand jury indicted Patricia Ripley of West Kendall this week and prosecutors said the death penalty will be on the table.

The 45-year old mother is accused of killing her autistic son, Alejandro, last May.

Surveillance video captured Ripley pushing her son into a canal behind the Kendall Acres Condominiums at 103rd Avenue and Kendall Drive around 7:30 p.m. on May 21. Witnesses thought the boy had accidentally fallen into the canal and helped pull him out.

His body was pulled from another canal near the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club on Kendale Lakes Drive about an hour after the first incident.

Ripley had called police to tell them an elaborate story about her son being abducted after her car was run off the road by two men. Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said the mother lied about the kidnapping. Detectives found a video showing that the boy had not fallen, which is what bystanders assumed, but that the mother was responsible for Alejandro ending up in the canal.

Detectives said Ripley admitted to driving to the second location about 8:30 p.m. and pushing Alejandro into the pond-like canal where he drowned.

“He is going to be in a better place,” Ripley said during her confession, according to detectives.

She remains jailed at the Turner Guilford Knight Correction Center in Miami.

About the Author:

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