Mother charged with murder after allegedly strangling son over financial struggles

Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, a 50-year-old mother from Pennsylvania, has been charged with the murder of her 11-year-old son, Matthew Whitehead. According to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the boy’s lifeless body was discovered in the family’s Horsham home on Tuesday morning.

The criminal complaint states that DiRienzo-Whitehead informed investigators that her son had been intermittently crying throughout the day due to their family’s financial difficulties. She admitted to strangling the child, claiming she wanted to spare him from experiencing further hardship in life.

On Tuesday morning, the boy’s father found his son’s body in the master bedroom, where the child had slept with his mother the night before. The bedroom door was locked, and both DiRienzo-Whitehead and the family’s SUV were nowhere to be found. It remains unclear where the father had slept before discovering the devastating scene.

Prosecutors allege that after the murder, DiRienzo-Whitehead fled the scene and drove 120 miles to Cape May, New Jersey, where she purposely drove the SUV into the ocean. Authorities later discovered the belt used in the killing inside the vehicle.

Police apprehended DiRienzo-Whitehead after she walked six miles to a nearby neighborhood where the family had a beach house. She now faces charges for murder and possession of an instrument of crime. A subsequent autopsy determined that the cause of the child’s death was strangulation.

DiRienzo-Whitehead is currently in custody. Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele expressed gratitude to various law enforcement agencies for their assistance in apprehending the suspect and their contributions to the ongoing investigation.