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August 02, 2022

South Jersey mom convicted of murder in death of her 17-month-old son

Heather Reynolds, 44, has been held without bail since she was arrested in June 2019

Crime Courts
New Jersey mom murder conviction Bill Oxford/Unsplash

Heather Reynolds, 44, was convicted of murder in the death of her 17-month-old son, Axel. The medical examiner's office said Axel's death was caused by asphyxiation with a cleaning wipe. Reynolds faces life in prison at her sentencing hearing in October.

A South Jersey woman was convicted of murdering her 17-month-old son in 2018 by suffocating him with a cleaning wipe, the Camden County Prosector's Office announced on Friday.

Heather Reynolds, 44, of Sicklerville, was also found guilty of possession of methamphetamine and endangering the welfare of a child after the nine-day trial finished on July 28.

Reynolds was arrested and charged in connection with the death of her son, Axel, in June 2019 – more than a year after he was pronounced dead. 

Dr. Gerald Feigin, the county medical examiner, performed a post-mortem evaluation on the child, ruling his death a homicide after discovering trace amounts of isopropyl alcohol in his system. Feigin found that a wipe containing the substance was used to asphyxiate Axel, according to Reynolds' indictment.

"A lot of people worked very hard to get justice for this child," said Peter Gallagher, who prosecuted Reynolds for the state, in a release. "I'm grateful for their efforts and appreciate the time and attention that the jury gave this case." 

Reynolds was found not guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, after prosecutors alleged she engaged in a murder-for-hire plot against her ex-boyfriend, Domenic Caruso. He was living in Reynolds' Sicklerville home at the time her husband was out of town. 

Prosecutors alleged that Reynolds hired Jeffrey Callahan of Clayton, Gloucester County, to kill Caruso after he gave a statement about Axel's death to investigators, the Inquirer reported.

Investigators found multiple recordings of Callahan speaking about the plan, including a claim that Reynolds' family would pay a third party up to $25,000 for the hit. 

While Callahan was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, prosecutors dropped the charges after he plead guilty to witness tampering, CBS Philly reported.

Prosecutors alleged that Reynolds was largely driven by a drug addiction, as trace amounts of methamphetamine were found in her system just after Axel's death. They also believe that Reynolds was trying to maintain an extramarital affair and Axel was getting in the way. 

Richard Fuschino, Reynolds' attorney, told NBC Philadelphia that he plans to appeal the verdict, saying that he's "disappointed" the jury did not find reasonable doubt. 

Reynolds faces up to life in prison when she attends her sentencing hearing in October.