According to authorities, a mother in Pennsylvania is accused of using a belt to strangle her 11-year-old son because she didn’t want him to experience the family’s financial hardships as he grew older.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office reports that after young Matthew Whitehead was discovered dead inside of his family’s Horsham home on Tuesday morning, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, 50, was charged with murder.
According to a criminal complaint, the mother told detectives that her sixth-grade son was “crying off and on all day” due to the family’s financial difficulties.
DiRienzo-Whitehead admitted that she strangled the boy so he wouldn’t have “to grow up with these struggles.”
Police were called to the family’s home just after 7 a.m. Tuesday after the boy’s father discovered his body in the master bedroom where he’d gone to sleep with his mom a night earlier.
The dad had found the bedroom locked and his wife and their SUV missing, prosecutors said. It wasn’t immediately clear where DiRienzo-Whitehead’s husband slept before making the grim discovery.
Prosecutors allege DiRienzo-Whitehead fled the home after strangling her son and drove 120 miles to Cape May, New Jersey, where she drove her SUV into the ocean.
Prosecutors claim that the belt that was used in the murder was later found in the car.
Shortly after traveling six miles to the family’s beach house in a nearby neighborhood, DiRienzo-Whitehead was apprehended by police.
The girl was charged with first- and third-degree murder, as well as possession of a weapon used in a crime, following a Wednesday autopsy that revealed the boy had been strangled to death.
Currently detained in Cape May, DiRienzo-Whitehead will be returned to Montgomery County for arraignment on the charges, according to the prosecution.
Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele expressed his gratitude to Cape May Police, Wildwood Crest Police, and Cape May Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland’s Office for their assistance in finding the mother who killed her son and with other aspects of this investigation.
Their prompt response and assistance with the investigation will be crucial in making the defendant answerable for the terrible killing of this boy.