Florida woman who claimed 9-year-old son with autism was abducted now charged with his murder

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This photo provided by Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Patricia Ripley. Officials say Ripley faked her son’s abduction and instead led him to the canal where he drowned. Court records show 45-year-old Patricia Ripley is facing a first-degree murder charge. Her son was 9-year-old Alejandro Ripley and was autistic. The boy’s body was found early Friday, May 22, 2020 at a golf course canal. (Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

(CNN) — Police in south Florida have arrested and charged a woman in the death of her 9-year-old son after they say she falsely accused two black men of abducting him.

Patricia Ripley, 45, had claimed she was driving with her son Alejandro around 9 p.m. ET Thursday when two black men in another vehicle forced her to stop, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a news conference Saturday morning.

Ripley told police that one of the men got out and demanded drugs, according to officials. After Ripley said she didn’t have any drugs, the man, who had a knife, stole her phone and kidnapped Alejandro, who was autistic and non-verbal.

The boy’s body was found hours later still wearing a Captain America T-shirt, Rundle said.

During their investigation, officials obtained video that allegedly showed Ripley pushing Alejandro into a canal Thursday evening around 7:30 p.m. ET, Rundle told reporters.

Nearby residents heard screaming, found Alejandro in the canal and rescued him, Rundle said. But just an hour later, Ripley allegedly brought Alejandro to a different canal.

“This time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him,” Rundle said.

Ripley was arrested and booked in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center early Saturday morning, according to Miami-Dade County Corrections records.

She faces charges of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and premeditated murder, Rundle said. She’s being held without bond pending her first court appearance.

CNN was unable to immediately determine Saturday if Ripley had an attorney who would comment on her behalf.

“I want you all in the community to think about Alejandro, that the only voice in his life that he depended on to get through this world was his mom’s,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez III. “And to think that that voice would the one that would harm him the most.”

“I’m deeply saddened for what happened to that young boy,” he said. “And then for her to displace blame of her crime on another community is just as well another crime that was committed.”

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