Florida mother charged with first-degree murder of autistic son

The mother of a 9-year-old autistic boy has been charged with first-degree murder in Florida, according to multiple media reports.

Patricia Ripley, 47, was arrested about 3 a.m. Saturday, authorities said, in the death of her son Alejandro Ripley, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

Law enforcement sources reportedly told the Miami Herald that Ripley eventually admitted she was behind the death of Alejandro, whose disappearance sparked a statewide manhunt early Friday.

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A source familiar with the investigation reportedly told the Miami Herald a security camera at a Home Depot near where the alleged abduction took place showed Ripley sitting in her car alone for 20 minutes before she called police at 8:47 p.m. Thursday.

Alejandro’s body reportedly was found about 9 a.m. Friday in a pond at the Miccosukee Golf & Country Club.

An Amber Alert had been issued for the child, who was also nonverbal.

Ripley initially said she and her son were driving in Miami about 8:30 p.m. Thursday when, according to CBS Miami, she noticed a car following her.

Ripley previously said the driver of the car reportedly tried to sideswipe her, causing her to veer off the road near a Home Depot parking lot. The driver of the other car then reportedly blocked her, she said.

Ripley told police a male passenger from the other car then ambushed her and demanded drugs, according to ABC ActionNews. When she explained she didn't have any drugs, the passenger took her cellphone and abducted her son, Ripley said. The vehicle then drove off and headed south, according to Ripley.

Police said there was another passenger in the vehicle, described as a blue four-door sedan.

Police initially said they did not think the two men were armed and said Ripley did not recognize the men.

On Friday morning, police questioned both parents in connection with the incident, according to local media reports.

At a news conference Friday, police said they were considering all options in the investigation, according to the Sun Sentinel.

“We’re not ruling out foul play, but it may not be so we’ll see,” Detective Chris Thomas of the Miami-Dade Police Department told reporters.