THE mother who has been accused of drowning her autistic son in a Florida canal pleaded not guilty on Friday.
Patricia Ripley, 45, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Alejandro Ripley, nine, after she initially told police two unknown men cut her off in traffic in Miami before kidnapping her son on May 20.
During her arraignment on Friday, prosecutors announced Ripley is also facing charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, and filing a false police report, per the Miami Herald.
Ripley claimed one of the men — both of whom she described as black men — walked up to her and demanded drugs.
When she said she didn't have any, Ripley claimed the men then grabbed severely autistic Alejandro and her cellphone and fled the scene.
A massive search ensued, but came to a halt 12 hours later when a witness called police about a child's body floating in a canal on the golf course at the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club in Miami, located roughly four miles from where the alleged abduction took place.
The body was later identified to be the missing boy.
Police later said Ripley admitted to them that she was to blame for the child’s death.
This came after police confronted her with evidence that she had been at the golf course.
According to a police report, video surveillance footage showed her pushing the boy "into the canal," and witnesses also claimed they saw her at the scene.
A source also told the Miami Herald that a security camera at a Home Depot near where the alleged abduction took place showed Ripley sitting in her car alone — without Alejandro — 20 minutes before she called police at 8.47pm.
Police said they arrived within two minutes, and said they also found no one matching the man’s description or their car.
Recanting her story, police said Ripley admitted that at around 8.30pm she had led her son into the canal where he drowned, stating "he’s going to be in a better place."
Alejandro had been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and was non-verbal and attended a special needs school.
Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade schools, tweeted of the boy's death: "Heartbroken over this innocent boy’s unfathomable death."
"I didn’t have the chance to meet Alejandro, but his sweet smile has left an indelible impression. Praying that this case will soon be solved and those responsible brought to justice."
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