Miami-Dade Department of Corrections / Miami-Dade PD
She attempted to drown him earlier that night, but a passer-by rescued him, prosecutors said.
A Miami mother who sparked an amber alert after claiming two men abducted her autistic 9-year-old son has admitted she pushed him into a lake to drown, prosecutors have claimed.
Patricia Ripley was charged on Saturday with first-degree murder and attempted premeditated murder, after it emerged she had pushed Alejandro Ripley into a canal an hour beforehand, but he was rescued by a passer-by.
The horrific chain of events started on Thursday night, when Ripley called police to report her son had been abducted from her car by two black men.
She said she was driving with Alejandro, who was non-verbal, near SW 88th Street and 158th Avenue around 8:30 pm when she noticed a car following them.
She claimed the car then tried to sideswipe her; forcing her to veer off the road and into a Home Depot parking lot.
The driver of the other car then blocked her in, she said, while the passenger jumped out with a knife and began demanding drugs.
"She says she does not have any drugs. And so the passenger at that point reaches in, grabs her cell phone, steals her cell phone, and takes her child," Miami-Dade police Detective Angel Rodriguez said.
Police immediately issued an amber alert, and interviewed staff at Home Depot looking for witnesses.
On Friday morning, he child's body was found floating in a lake at Miccosukee Golf and Country Club, near where the abduction had supposedly taken place.
He was still wearing the Captain America T-shirt his mom had described to police, as well as a diaper. Officers noted he had suffered head trauma.
But when detectives checked surveillance footage, it showed Ripley pulling into the car park and waiting for 15 minutes before calling in the phony report.
Police said Ripley broke down when they told her they had witnesses who seen her near the lake with the boy.
Investigators later found a video showing Ripley pushing him into a canal at 7.30 pm on Thursday, but he was rescued by passers-by.
After he was pulled out of the water, his mother pushed him back in an hour later to his death, prosecutors said.
"This time, unfortunately, there was no one there to save him," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Per Local10.
"He is going to be in a better place," Ripley reportedly told detectives during her confession.
Antoinette Uribe, whose child was a classmate of Alejandro's, was among the dozens of people at a memorial on Friday while detectives were still investigating, who believed he had been murdered by two abductors.
"He was the world to his parents," she told the publication.
"Every time I saw Alejandro he was like the happiest kid ever... Never a frown. He was always smiling," she told CBS Miami, adding he was especially close to his father.
"Alejandro would be so happy to see his dad," she said. "He would give him a kiss. They would say "I love you.'"