Alejandro Ripley, Southwest Miami-Dade Boy With Autism Abducted From Mother’s Car, Found Dead
KENDALL (CBSMiami) – An Amber Alert has been canceled for a 9-year-old boy with autism who was abducted from his mother’s car Thursday night.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that the boy, Alejandro Ripley, was found dead.
Friday, around 7:50 a.m., a body found floating in a lake in the area of SW 62 Street and 138 Court in southwest Miami-Dade at the Miccosukee Golf and Country Club near where the boy was taken.
Miami-Dade police said the body appears to be a young child but they have not, at this point, confirmed it was Ripley.
“We can see there is a deceased body of a child in the water on the south side of the golf course,” said Detective Chris Thomas.
While police are not confirming its Ripley, they told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that they are proceeding in this case as if it was him.
“Alejandro Ripley was reported as abducted last night. We are not ruling out the possibility that this could be the same case, the same person. But, of course, we have to wait for homicide to do their investigation so we can make a positive ID and make contact with the family members to see if this is actually the same person,” said Thomas.
WATCH: MIAMI-DADE POLICE UPDATE ON ALEJANDRO RIPLEY
Patricia Ripley and her son Alejandro, who is non-verbal, were driving in the area of SW 88th Street and 158th Avenue around 8:30 p.m. when she noticed a car following them, according to police.
When the driver of the car tried to sideswipe Ripley, she veered off the road in front of a Home Depot parking lot. The driver of the car then drove ahead of her and blocked her.
“The passenger of the vehicle exits the vehicle, approaches the mother, and demands 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,” said Miami-Dade police Detective Angel Rodriguez.
The two men and the boy then drove off in a blue four-door sedan. Police do not believe the two men were armed and said the mom did not recognize them.
Police questioned those who work at the Home Depot. They are also questioning the boy’s mother.
“She is being interrogated right now. We are also canvassing several areas looking for surveillance tape that might show any vehicles coming in and out,” Thomas said.
The detective said police were still asking for the public’s help in this case and were still looking for “two subjects.”
The neighborhood where Ripley lived was saddened by the news of his death.
“We are very, very sad. My wife just broke down. We appreciated the little kid. He was autistic but seemed like a very, very happy kid. He was always playing, doing something with his little laptop,” said Boris Ugartechea, a neighbor and friend of the family.
The Friendship Circle of Miami held a memorial service Friday afternoon for Ripley.
The service took place in the parking lot of the Friendship Circle campus at 8700 SW 112 Street.
Around 30 people attended the memorial, walk-up service where everyone got out of their cars.
Rabbi Yossi Harlig told D’Oench, “Even though I did not know Alejandro he was like everyone’s child, especially when you raise a child with special needs. That comes with challenges. For us we want the community to know that we hold him dear to our heart. If one child’s life is lost, it affects all of us.”
Sympathy cards, mementos, and flowers were collected and then delivered to the family.
Those who knew the Alejandro say he stood out for his happiness.
“Every time I saw Alejandro he was like the happiest kid ever,” said Antoinette Uribe.”Never a frown. He was always smiling.”
Uribe says her son and Alejandro attended My Kid Therapy Center together. She said she saw Alejandro every day. Employees of the center gathered a memorial for Alejandro on Friday afternoon at the Friendship Circle. Uribe said Alejandro appeared 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.’”
As people mourned Alejandro’s death, their hearts were heavy. Uribe hopes detectives find the people responsible for such heartbreak.
“I hope they catch them as soon as possible so they can deserve the justice that they need,” she said. “Because how dare you pick on an autistic kid who can’t even talk and was probably begging for his mommy.”