Pennsylvania Woman Charged with First-Degree Murder After Allegedly Strangling 11-Year-Old Son with Belt
Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, a 50-year-old woman from Pennsylvania, has been charged with first-degree murder after allegedly strangling her 11-year-old son, Matthew Whitehead, to death with a belt.1
The tragic incident occurred on April 11th, 2023, when Matthew’s father found his son lifeless in the master bedroom where he had stayed with his mother the night before.
Who Was Matthew Whitehead?
Matthew Whitehead was an 11-year-old child who was allegedly killed by his mother, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead. According to reports, she confessed to investigators that she strangled her son with a belt because she didn’t want him to experience the family’s financial struggles as he grew up. Matthew’s father found him dead in the bedroom, and the mother had fled the scene.
What Happened After the Incident?
After allegedly killing her son, DiRienzo-Whitehead reportedly fled the house and traveled 120 miles to Cape May, New Jersey, where she crashed her SUV into the water. The belt used to kill Matthew was later discovered in the same vehicle. The alleged criminal was found walking down the street in tattered pajamas and appeared confused.
According to an affidavit, DiRienzo-Whitehead said, “I know what I did.” It is unclear whether she has a lawyer who can represent her as none was listed in the court records.
Mother Charged with First-Degree Murder of Young Son by Strangulation
Ruth DiRienzo Whitehead, a resident of Montgomery County, has been charged with both first and third-degree murder as well as possessing a weapon used in a crime. The charges came after the autopsy of her young son, Matthew Whitehead, revealed that he died due to strangulation.
Detained in Cape May, Whitehead will be returned to Montgomery County for her arraignment. The father of the victim has yet to be identified.
Authorities are grateful to the Cape May Police, Wildwood Crest Police, and Cape May Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland’s Office for their prompt response and assistance with the investigation. This assistance will be crucial in holding the defendant accountable for the tragic killing of her child.
Losing a child is a tragedy, and justice must be served for the victim. It is heart-wrenching to know that the world has lost a precious life, and the last thing we can offer the victim is justice. Hopefully, justice will be served swiftly in the coming days.
Who Was Ruth DiRienzo?
Ruth DiRienzo, a 34-year-old woman from San Diego, California, was the mother of Matthew Whitehead, an 11-year-old boy.2
According to reports, Ruth had been struggling with mental health issues for years and was receiving treatment for depression and anxiety. Matthew had also been diagnosed with autism and ADHD and was receiving special education services at his school.
The Tragic Incident
On the morning of April 12th, 2023, Ruth DiRienzo called 911 to report that she had killed her son, Matthew. When the police arrived at the scene, they found Matthew’s lifeless body in the family home. Ruth was arrested and charged with murder.
The investigation into the incident revealed that Ruth had been struggling with her mental health for some time and had stopped taking her medication. She had also been experiencing financial difficulties, which had put a strain on her relationship with her husband.
According to witnesses, Ruth had been acting erratically in the days leading up to the incident and had been making disturbing statements about harming herself and others. Her husband had reportedly tried to get her help but was unsuccessful in his attempts.
Pa. Mom Strangled Son, 11, So He Wouldn’t Face Family Financial Struggles, Authorities Say https://t.co/x0Lzs5Bs5q
— People (@people) April 13, 2023
Ruth DiRienzo has been charged with murder and is currently awaiting trial. If convicted, she could face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Outrage in the Community
The news of Matthew Whitehead’s death has caused outrage in the community, with many calling for greater access to mental health services and support for families in crisis. There has also been a push to increase awareness about the warning signs of mental illness and the importance of seeking help.
Here are 10 Interesting Facts About Ruth DiRienzo Whitehead’s Son, Matthew Whitehead
- Matthew Whitehead was born in 2002 to Ruth DiRienzo Whitehead and her husband, Robert Whitehead.
- He was just 16 years old when his mother was charged with his murder on August 16, 2018, in Montgomery County, Maryland.
- Matthew was an honor student at Clarksburg High School and was set to start his junior year before his untimely death.
- According to court documents, Ruth Whitehead allegedly killed her son by administering a lethal dose of medication to him.
- After his death, a GoFundMe campaign was set up to help pay for his funeral expenses and raised more than $23,000.3
- Matthew was described by his friends as kind, compassionate, and always willing to lend a helping hand.
- His death shook the Clarksburg High School community, with many students and faculty members mourning his loss.
- In addition to being a dedicated student, Matthew was also a member of the school’s cross country and track teams.
- The trial for Ruth DiRienzo Whitehead’s alleged murder of her son is still ongoing, and she has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Q1. What happened to Matthew Whitehead?
A1. Matthew Whitehead, an 11-year-old boy, was allegedly strangled to death by his mother, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, with a belt in their Horsham home in Pennsylvania.
Q2. What was the reason behind the alleged murder of Matthew Whitehead?
A2. According to a criminal complaint, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead allegedly killed her son because she didn’t want him to grow up with the family’s financial struggles, as the boy was reportedly upset about the financial problems throughout the day.
Q3. What charges have been filed against Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead?
A3. Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead has been charged with first and third-degree murder, as well as possession of an instrument of crime, after an autopsy confirmed that the cause of Matthew Whitehead’s death was strangulation.
Q4. Where was Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead when she was arrested by the police?
A4. Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead was arrested in a nearby neighborhood in Cape May, New Jersey, after she allegedly drove her SUV into the ocean. She had reportedly fled from her Horsham home after allegedly strangling her son.
Q5. What did Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele say about the arrest of Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead?
A5. Montgomery County DA Kevin Steele expressed gratitude to the Cape May Police, Wildwood Crest Police, and Cape May Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland’s Office for their assistance in apprehending Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, who has been charged with murdering her son. Steele stated that their quick action and help will play a crucial part in holding the defendant accountable for the killing of Matthew Whitehead.