The murder trial got underway Monday for the woman who allegedly killed her young son in April 2023 and then drove the family's SUV from Horsham, PA to Cape May where she drove the vehicle into the ocean.

Murder Trial is Underway in Montgomery County, PA

Ruth Dirienzo-Whitehead, 51, admitted to the crime in April and has been charged with first-and third-degree murder.

Dirienzo-Whitehead told police she didn't want her son Matthew, 11, to grow up with her family's financial problems, so she strangled him with her husband's belt in his sleep.

A Re-Cap on the Murder Investigation

Police were called to a house on the 500 block of Privet Road in Horsham Township on April 11, 2023.

Police found Matthew dead in bed in the master bedroom, where he had gone to sleep with his mother.

Detectives noted that the boy had ligature marks on the front and rear of his neck, as well as swelling of his face and obvious petechia to his eyes, all signs of strangulation, according to a statement from the Office of the Montgomery County District Attorney.

The investigation found that Ruth DiRienzo-Whitehead killed her son after he went to sleep at about 9:30 pm, then drove the family’s SUV to Cape May, where she drove the vehicle into the ocean just off Beach Avenue. Cape May Police later found it.

The Woman Walked to Wildwood Crest

Police say that DiRienzo-Whitehead then walked to Wildwood Crest, where she was taken into custody by the Wildwood Crest Police and interviewed by detectives.

Detectives said, “DiRienzo-Whitehead explained that she did not want Matthew to grow up with (the family's financial) struggles so she strangled him with her husband’s belt as he slept."

A search of the SUV by police discovered the dress belt they believed was used in the killing on the floor of the driver’s side of the vehicle.

What's Happening at the Murder Trial?

The child's father, Daniel Whitehead, testified Monday, the district attorney's office said. Experts are expected to provide testimony on behalf of both the defense and prosecution on Tuesday.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office said they expect the trial to move quickly and that Dirienzo-Whitehead is planning an insanity defense.

10 'Secret Spots' Burglars Check First When Invading New Jersey Homes

Gallery Credit: Eddie Davis

36 Amazing New Jersey Kids Who Are Absolutely Adoptable

Here are 50 awesome New Jersey kids who are absolutely adaptable!

Gallery Credit: Eddie Davis

More From Lite 96.9 WFPG