🔴 Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead drove to Cape May after strangling her son

🔴 Her defense was based on her concern about the family's finances

🔴 The DA said she planned her son's death

A Pennsylvania mom was found guilty of first-degree murder after using a belt to strangle her 11-year-old son in April.

The verdict was handed down by a judge, who didn't buy the argument that Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead was distraught over the family's financial difficulties.

Matthew Whitehead was strangled by his mother, Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead, as he slept, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R. Steele. She was gone from the home when Matthew's father found him dead in the main bedroom.

DiRienzo-Whitehead drove her Toyota Highlander to Cape May where she drove the car into the ocean off Beach Avenue at Cove Beach, according to Steele.

When she could no longer drive the SUV, she got out and walked to Wildwood Crest where police arrested her.

Map showing Horsham, PA and Cape May, NJ
Map showing Horsham, PA and Cape May, NJ (Canva)

Sparing her son or pre-meditated murder?

Her lawyer told Montgomery County Judge William R. Carpenter that DiRienzo-Whitehead was upset that her son had become aware of the family's financial problems and had been crying all day, according to NBC Philadelphia coverage of the two-day bench trial. By killing him, DiRienzo-Whitehead felt she was sparing her son a horrible life, the defense said.

An expert for the defense testified that she suffered from depression and mental illness and is being treated while in prison.

Prosecutors said she sought revenge on her husband, whom she blamed for their financial issues, by using his belt to kill their son.

An expert for the prosecution testified that Google searches on DiRienzo-Whitehead's computer sought info on how to strangle someone and research on mental health illnesses.

DiRienzo-Whitehead is scheduled for sentencing Friday morning.

Report a correction 👈 | 👉 Contact our newsroom

Never Buy These 10 Items At New Jersey Dollar Stores

Reader's Digest compiled a list of items you should avoid purchasing at the dollar store. These are the top 10.

Gallery Credit: Ben & Patty Show

America's new #1 supermarket has 21 locations in New Jersey

The ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) analyzed data to determine which supermarket chains ranked highest in customer service. Even though some numbers appear to be the same, there are numerous factors that help determine the overall ranking across the U.S. that are not listed here.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

Best Places To Go Sledding in Central Jersey

Do you have a snow day? These are the best places to do some sledding according to 94.5 PST listeners. Don't forget to bring some hot chocolate in a thermos to keep warm.

Gallery Credit: Chris Rollins