A mother from New Jersey is accused of killing her toddler son, possibly after consuming meth, because she felt like he was interfering with an extramarital affair she was involved in.
Heather Reynolds, 41, is accused of suffocating her 17-month-old son, Axel, in May 2018 by holding a cleansing wipe over his face. During a detention hearing Tuesday, prosecutors pointed to the affair as a motivating factor in the boy’s death, the Associated Press reports.
“This was an absolutely brutal murder and a helpless victim,” Assistant Prosecutor Peter Gallagher said. Reynolds reportedly sobbed as he explained that the way he died required time and commitment from the person who killed him, NJ,com reports.
Her attorney, Michael Testa Sr., said she "adamantly denies" that she had anything to do with her son’s death, though he did admit that she struggled with drug addiction.
Reynolds will remain jailed until her trial. If convicted, she could face life behind bars.
The day Axel died, Reynolds ran from her home with him in her arms, screaming for help. First responders showed up on the scene to find the boy reeking of rubbing alcohol and with bruises on his face, according to NJ.com. Prosecutors believe she covered his nose and mouth with a wipe containing isopropyl alcohol and detergent.
It took officials about a year to charge Reynolds, which they did earlier this month.
Witnesses claim Reynolds used methamphetamine hours before the child’s death and meth residue was allegedly found in a bag in her purse, according to NJ.com.
Gallagher claimed Reynolds was having an affair with a man while her husband was out of state and that there was escalating tension between her and her new love interest before Axel died.
“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 Wednesday. “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.”
That boyfriend reportedly spent the night at Reynolds' home just hours before Axel died.
Reynolds' husband died in November but it’s not clear how. Reynolds was reportedly arrested for drug possession twice in the past: once before Axel’s death and in February. She has no convictions.
“She’s suffered greatly as a result of this,” Testa said of his client.
Reynolds has a masters in social work and has worked in that field most of her life, Testa said.
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