Prosecutors alleged Tuesday that Heather Reynolds, 41, suffocated her 17-month-old son because she felt he was getting in the way of an extramarital affair.
NJ.com reported this week that the allegation was made during a hearing for the New Jersey woman, who is charged with murder and child endangerment in the May 2018 death of her son.
Prosecutors say that Reynolds suffocated her son, Axel, by holding a cleaning wipe against his nose and mouth until he suffocated. Reynolds was attempting to have an extramarital affair while her husband was out of state on business, prosecutors said, citing the mother’s text messages.
“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 at the hearing. “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.”
But Reynolds attorney, Michael Testa, said she had nothing to do with the boys death.
“She adamantly denies that she has anything to do with the death of her child,” Testa told the court.
“She’s suffered greatly as a result of this,” Testa continued, noting that her husband, Joseph Reynolds, also died on Nov. 5.
Heather Reynolds and the scene of the crime
While it took a year to charge Reynolds with the murder, prosecutors said she was a suspect from the start.
Police and EMTs were called to the scene of her Gloucester Township home on the morning of May 10 because Reynolds was holding the body of her lifeless son, screaming for neighbors to call for help, according to law enforcement
The child was discovered with bruises around his nose and mouth, a police report revealed. Reynolds told EMTs she thought he might have imbibed something poisonous, but EMTs were immediately suspicious. They noted that Reynolds told them that she last fed her son at 6 A.M., though it was clear the child had already been dead for much longer than that.
“Although no one had accused the defendant of any wrongdoing, she blurted out, ‘It’s not suspicious. I didn’t do anything wrong,’” Gallagher said, citing the police report.
Witnesses also told police that Reynolds had been using methamphetamine the night before the incident, which was supported when police found residue in a bag and her purse.
According to police, Reynolds told them that her boyfriend had stayed the night at her house, but left before she carried her son outside the next morning.
According to Gallagher, medical examiner Gerald Feigin ruled the death a homicide by asphyxia on June 7, caused by “a wipe containing isopropyl alcohol and detergent,” which was placed over the victim’s mouth and nose. Gallagher said blood tests revealed the boy’s body showed trace amounts of isopropyl, often used in detergents and antiseptics, and acetone.
After hearing the evidence, a grand jury indicted Reynolds on June 13.
At the hearing, Gallagher argued that Reynolds should be held in jail pending a trial, saying she is a risk to the community due to the alleged crime and her continued use of meth.
“This was an absolutely brutal murder and a helpless victim,” Gallagher said.
Judge Edward McBride agreed, ordering Reynolds be held in jail pending the trial while noting she faces a sentence of life in prison.