A New Jersey mother has been convicted of murdering her young son. One prosecutor said the defendant committed the crime because she thought the 1-year-old baby was hindering an affair she was having.
Heather Reynolds, 44, was convicted Thursday for murder, possession of methamphetamine, and endangering the welfare of a child, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said. Cops in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, said they responded to a report of a child unresponsive on a lawn near his home on May 10, 2018. Investigators determined he died of asphyxia.
Lead prosecutor Peter Gallagher previously said that Heather suffocated her son Axel Reynolds, 17 months old, with a cleansing wipe over his nose and mouth. Investigators said they found isopropyl alcohol and acetone in the child’s body.
“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,” Gallagher said at the time, according to NJ.com. “And witnesses also told detectives that the defendant had expressed the sentiment that her toddler son, the victim A.R., was an obstacle to her relationship with her boyfriend.”
Meanwhile, the mother ended up making herself suspicious by insisting her child’s death was not suspicious.
“It’s not suspicious,” Heather Reynolds told first responders, according to authorities. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Reynolds’ husband Joseph Reynolds died on Nov. 5, 2018, her attorney Michael Testa Sr. reportedly said at a detention hearing, according to NJ.com.
“She’s suffered greatly as a result of this,” he said.
He was almost 18 months old when he was killed last May in Sicklerville. Now more than a year later Axel Reynolds’s mother is charged with his murder. 41 yo Heather Reynolds was taken into custody last night @6abc (pic of Axel at 7 mos) pic.twitter.com/BWK41e6HpU
— Annie McCormick (@6abcAnnie) June 14, 2019
“A lot of people worked very hard to get justice for this child,” Gallagher said Thursday. “I’m grateful for their efforts and appreciate the time and attention that the jury gave this case.”
The case ended up being rather convoluted. Reynolds and her boyfriend Jeffrey Callahan were charged in May 2021, accused of conspiring to have another man killed in a murder-for-hire plot. The target was her prior boyfriend who spoke with detectives after Axel’s death.
“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 at the time. “The two were charged following an investigation into the reported plot.”
Callahan allegedly offered someone up to $25,000 for killing the target, Gallagher said, according to The Courier Post. His plan, the witness allegedly said, was to wait until after the Reynolds case wrapped up — otherwise, it would be too obvious.
On social media, Callahan allegedly called the target a “dead man walking,” and discussed wanting to put a bullet in the man’s head.
Callahan was recorded saying he wanted the man dead and “her family had the money to pay for it,” according to the probable cause statement obtained by the Post.
Among Callahan’s prior convictions for crimes are four felonies. Callahan was on probation in a stalking case that Gallagher described as being connected to Reynolds.
“This defendant’s allegiance and his devotion to Ms. Reynolds are quite well-established,” the prosecutor said.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[image via screengrab/NJ.com/YouTube]
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