On April 11, deputies received a 911 call from Daniel Whitehead, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office said.
Whitehead told police he woke up around 7 a.m. and found the master bedroom door in his Horsham home locked and his wife’s vehicle was missing. He opened the door to the bedroom and found his son, Matthew Whitehead, dead.
Matthew reportedly spent the night with his mother, officials said.
Detectives from Montgomery County and Horsham were still at the Whitehead home when police in Cape May, New Jersey, discovered the wife’s black Toyota Highlander partially submerged in the ocean, according to authorities. Cape May is about 120 miles from Horsham.
A short time later, police in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey – about six miles from Cape May – located the wife, the boy's mother, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead.
An autopsy was completed and confirmed Matthew had been strangled to death, WLS-TV reported.
Investigators determined Ruth allegedly killed her son after he went to sleep around 9:30 p.m. on April 10, and she then drove the family’s SUV to Cape May, according to WLS-TV.
She drove the vehicle into the ocean and once she could no longer drive, she got out and walked to Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, investigators said.
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Investigators searched the SUV and found a black men’s dress belt on the driver’s side floor, officials said.
Ruth was taken into custody and has now been charged with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Matthew, officials said.
According to authorities, DiRienzo-Whitehead said Matthew had been crying over the family’s “financial difficulties” and she didn’t want him to “grow up with these struggles,” KYW-AM reported.
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