When Fla. Mom Allegedly Tried to Drown Son in Canal, Nonverbal Boy Couldn't Ask for Help
Patricia Ripley has been charged with premeditated murder
The Florida boy allegedly drowned to death by his mom on Thursday was rescued from an alleged previous attempt an hour before, but the boy — who has autism and is nonverbal — was unable to communicate to passersby the danger of his situation.
A filed arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPLE confirms investigators believe Patricia Ripley tried drowning her son, 9-year-old Alejandro Ripley, twice. She allegedly first tried drowning him in the canal that runs behind the Miami apartment building where they live.
In the video footage of the first alleged attempt, obtained by the Miami Herald, Ripley can allegedly be seen walking along the canal's grassy banks before bumping her son, who has autism and is nonverbal, into the water. She can be seen running from the scene. Moments later, a male neighbor comes to the boy's aid, entering the water to save his life.
According to the affidavit, Ripley killed the boy less than an hour later, taking him to a lake at Miccosukee Golf and Country Club.
Ripley allegedly reported her son kidnapped to police on Thursday, claiming two men ambushed their vehicle, demanding drugs.
The next day, Alejandro's body was discovered near the lake.
Ripley has been charged with premeditated murder. She's yet to enter a plea, and it was unclear who her lawyer was Tuesday morning. She is being held without bond.
One neighbor who witnessed the boy's rescue from the canal told WTVJ Alejandro was under the water's surface for several minutes.
During a weekend press conference, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said Alejandro's inability to speak prevented him from being able to properly communicate the gravity of his situation during his first rescue.
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"He can't say anything to his rescuers," Fernandez Rundle said, according to the station. "We talk about children being voiceless. This is another level of voicelessness. He was incapable of saying that 'mommy put me in the water.'"
The affidavit alleges Ripley recanted her story after being shown the surveillance footage. It further alleges she told police her son was "going to be in a better place."