Patricia Ripley, the West Kendall mother who claimed her severely autistic 9-year-old son had been kidnapped by strange men on a public road, has been arrested on accusations that she murdered the child.
After hours of questioning by police, the 47-year-old Ripley was booked into a Miami-Dade jail just before 3 a.m. Saturday on a charge of second-degree murder.
Law-enforcement sources have told the Miami Herald that Ripley eventually admitted she was behind the death of Alejandro Ripley, whose disappearance sparked a frantic statewide manhunt early Friday that ended when his body was found in a pond at the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club.
Alejandro was non verbal and in the past appeared to have attended Greater Heights Academy, a West Kendall school for special-needs children. Ripley is a mother married of two.
It was late Thursday night when Ripley called police with a dramatic if bizarre tale: that a car forced her car off the road near a West Kendall Home Depot. Two men jumped out, she told Miami-Dade police, and demanded drugs.
When she told them she didn't have any, the men took the child and drove off.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued for the child - but it was canceled Friday morning when the body's body was found at the golf course pond. Investigators were immediately suspicious of the kidnapping as Ripley gave multiple accounts.
A source familiar with the investigation said a security camera at a Home Depot near where the alleged abduction took place showed Ripley sitting in her car alone - without Alejandro - for 20 minutes before she called police at 8:47 p.m. on Thursday.
Miami-Dade homicide detectives spent hours questioning the mother Friday night before she was finally booked. Details of the evidence against her were not immediately available early Saturday.
This story will be updated when more details become available.