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Trial Set for Mom Charged With Strangling 11-Year-Old Son

Trial Set for Mom Charged With Strangling 11-Year-Old Son

By Christopher South

Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, of Horsham Township, Pennsylvania, will go on trial next month for the murder of her son Matthew. DiRienzo-Whitehead left her home and tried to drive into the ocean in Cape May before being arrested in Wildwood Crest.
Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead arrived at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility
File Photo
Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, of Horsham Township, Pennsylvania, will go on trial next month for the murder of her son Matthew. DiRienzo-Whitehead left her home and tried to drive into the ocean in Cape May before being arrested in Wildwood Crest.

A Pennsylvania woman charged with strangling her son last spring, after which she attempted to drive into the ocean in Cape May, has chosen to have her case heard by a judge rather than a jury.

Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, 51, of Horsham Township, appeared at a pretrial hearing in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and waived her right to a jury trial. Instead she will have her case decided by the trial judge.

On Aug. 31, 2023, DiRienzo-Whitehead was determined to be competent to stand trial for the murder of her 11-year-old son Matthew in their home during the evening of April 10, 2023. After her arrest, her attorney, Eugene Tinari, attempted to have her declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Her car was found on Cove Beach in Cape May on April 11, partially submerged in the surf. She was found at a family shore home in Wildwood Crest, where she was taken into custody. She was interviewed in Wildwood Crest by detectives from Horsham Township and Montgomery County.

DiRienzo-Whitehead, a real estate broker, told detectives she had strangled her son due to the family’s financial troubles, according to an affidavit of probable cause. She said the boy had been upset all day, and she didn’t want him to live with financial hardships. She allegedly strangled her son with her husband’s belt, which was found in her Toyota Highlander on Cove Beach.

DiRienzo-Whitehead is facing one count of first-degree murder, one count of third-degree murder and one count of possession of a weapon with criminal intent.

Her trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, Feb. 12, court records show. She remains in the Montgomery County jail, where she has been since April 14.

Contact the author, Christopher South, at csouth@cmcherald.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.

Reporter

Christopher South is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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