A New Jersey mom awaiting trial for murdering her infant son because he was getting in the way of her affair has been hit with new charges—this time for allegedly conspiring with her boyfriend in a murder-for-hire plot.
Heather Reynolds, 43, and boyfriend, 44-year-old Jeffrey Callahan, were charged this week with first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said Wednesday. Reynolds was already being held at Camden County Jail on a slew of charges, including murder and endangering the welfare of a child, in connection to the May 10, 2018 death of her 17-month-old son Axel Reynolds.
“During the investigation into Axel’s death, detectives uncovered evidence that Reynolds and Callahan were allegedly conspiring to have another individual killed,” prosecutors said in a news release announcing the charges. Details of the murder-for-hire scheme have not been released.
In 2018, officers responded to Gloucester Township after reports of an unresponsive child on a lawn. Prosecutors allege that the 17-month-old had bruises around his mouth and nose and Reynolds told EMTs she believed he may have accidentally ingested something poisonous. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Although no one had accused [Reynolds] of any wrongdoing, she blurted out, ‘It’s not suspicious. I didn’t do anything wrong,’” Assistant Prosecutor Peter Gallagher said during a 2019 court hearing, according to NJ.com.
The medical examiner concluded on June 7, 2018, that Axel died of asphyxia and his death was a homicide, authorities said. Blood tests showed trace levels of isopropyl alcohol, which is used in antiseptics and acetone, prompting the medical examiner to conclude the infant suffocated after “a wipe containing isopropyl alcohol and detergent was placed over the mouth and nose,” according to NJ.com.
Gallagher said that during the investigation, witnesses later revealed that Reynolds had used meth the night before Axel’s death and a small residue of the drug was found in her purse. Text messages obtained from Reynolds’ damaged phone showed that she was having an affair while her husband was working in another state.
“A review of the text messages between the defendant and her boyfriend from the previous night reveal that [Reynolds] was becoming frustrated by the boyfriend’s apparent lack of interest,” Gallagher said in 2019. “And witnesses also told detectives that [Reynolds] had expressed the sentiment that her toddler son, the victim A.R., was an obstacle to her relationship with her boyfriend.”
The prosecutor added that the boyfriend, who was not identified at the time, also slept over the night of the murder but left before police arrived.
Reynolds was indicted by a grand jury on June 13, 2018. During a 2019 hearing in which Reynolds was ordered to be detained pending trial, her defense attorney insisted that while she struggled with addiction she did not kill her son.
“She adamantly denies that she has anything to do with the death of her child,” attorney Michael Testa said. “She’s suffered greatly as a result of this.”
An online tribute written by one of Axel Reynolds’ aunts described him as the “sweetest little boy who had a smile that made the room glow and everyone around you feel the innocence and peace that you radiated.”
Callahan, who was arrested on Monday, is set to appear in court on Friday for a detention hearing. Reynolds’ next court date hasn't been set. An attorney for both was not immediately available for comment.
One of Reynolds’ relatives declined to comment on the new charges, telling The Daily Beast, “unfortunately our family can not really comment on anything until the trial is over.”