Heather Reynolds, 43, was already in jail and facing murder charges for allegedly killing her 17-month-old son with a cleaning wipe. Now, authorities in Camden, New Jersey say she recently conspired with boyfriend in an entirely different murder-for-hire plot.
According to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Reynolds and Jeffrey Callahan, 44, were charged this week with one count each of first-degree conspiracy to commit murder. In the Garden State, a person convicted of the crime faces 10-30 years in prison.
Reynolds has been awaiting trial since the summer of 2019 when she was arrested for the death of her baby boy, Axel Reynolds. The suspect, a mother of two other children, allegedly killed the infant because he was interfering with her love life.
“A review of the text messages between the defendant and her boyfriend from the previous night reveal that the defendant was becoming frustrated by the boyfriend’s apparent lack of interest,” Assistant Prosecutor Peter Gallagher said in court in June 2019. “And witnesses also told detectives that the defendant had expressed the sentiment that her toddler son, the victim [Axel Reynolds], was an obstacle to her relationship with her boyfriend.”
The investigation into the boy’s death never let up, authorities say, and the alleged murder-for-hire plot was allegedly discovered in the course of that ongoing inquiry.
“During the investigation into Axel’s death, detectives uncovered evidence that Reynolds and Callahan were allegedly conspiring to have another individual killed,” Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer and Gloucester Township Police Chief David Harkins said in a statement. “The two were charged following an investigation into the reported plot.”
Axel Reynolds, who would be 4-and-a-half years old now, was long dead by the time EMTs arrived on May 10, 2018 in response to a 911 call about an unresponsive child laying on his own front lawn.
First responders quickly said they believed that something suspicious had occurred after Reynolds allegedly gave them an implausible timeline about the last time she fed her son.
Apparently defensive, the accused killer is said to have blurted out: “It’s not suspicious. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
On what should have been the boy’s second birthday, Heather Reynolds attended a commemoration and vigil in Gloucester Township Park with several dozen friends, relatives and well-wishers who were wearing “Justice for Axel Jayce Reynolds” attire. The mother was tight-lipped at the time, she said, on the advice of counsel.
Until she was arrested several months later, police were said to have been interested in a man who was not the boy’s father who had been at the Reynolds residence on the day the baby boy died. He slept over the night before Axel died, police later learned. But the investigation eventually led authorities right back to the boy’s mother.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, which included extensive forensic analysis, the matter was presented to the grand jury, which returned [a four-count] indictment against Heather Reynolds,” prosecutors said in a press release at the time of her arrest.
Along with the first-degree murder charge, Heather Reynolds was indicted for second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree possession of methamphetamine, and third-degree hindering apprehension in connection with her son’s death.
“She adamantly denies that she has anything to do with the death of her child,” defense attorney Michael Testa reportedly said at her detention hearing two years ago. “She’s suffered greatly as a result of this.”
Callahan was arrested on Monday. He is due in court this Friday. Reynolds is not currently scheduled to appear in court any time soon.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
[image via screengrab/NJ.com/YouTube]
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