A 50-year-old woman allegedly strangled her 11-year-old son to death with a belt so that he would not grow up and experience their family’s financial woes.
Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead told detectives that her son Matthew Whitehead was “crying off and on all day over the family’s financial difficulties”, according to an affidavit obtained by WPVI.
Ruth added that she did not want her son growing up “with these struggles” and therefore used her husband’s belt to strangle him in his sleep.
Matthew’s father found him dead, and cops responded to their home on the 500 block of Privet Road in Horsham, Pennsylvania, shortly after 7am on Tuesday, April 11.
Ruth killed her son after he fell asleep around 9.30pm on Monday, April 10, and then drove their SUV to Cape May, New Jersey, according to investigators. There, she drove the car into the ocean off Beach Avenue, abandoned it and began walking to Wildwood Crest, where she was taken into custody.
Police officers were watching the family’s beach house on Seaview Avenue and spotted a woman appearing to be Ruth and called her name.
“I know what I did,” Ruth allegedly said as the officers approached her.
The SUV contained a men’s black belt on the floor of the driver’s side, according to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.
An autopsy confirmed that Matthew died from being strangled.
“Strangulation takes time,” said District Attorney Kevin Steele on Wednesday. “So this is a brutal murder of a little boy.”
Ruth has been charged with first-degree murder and is being held in Cape May County. She awaits extradition to Montgomery County.