MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Mamaroneck woman is being held without bail after she was charged with murder in the death of the her 4-year-old son.
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Manuela Maria Morgado, 46, was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge in Mamaroneck Village Court late Monday.
Officers found her son, Jason, dead and Morgado half-conscious in her Mamaroneck condo after they received a call from a relative Monday morning asking them to check on the woman.
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Law enforcement sources told CBS 2 the child was suffocated and may have been given helium to breathe in.
Suicide by breathing in helium is widely discussed on “right to die” Web sites, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Police are now awaiting autopsy results for a cause of death.
Sources told CBS 2 that Morgado and the boy’s father, prominent Manhattan doctor Timothy Reish, were involved in a well-known custody dispute over their son.
But neighbors said they never imagined it could turn so tragic.
“He would meet the child out front but there was never any harsh words,” said neighbor Andrew Landau.
Neighbors said a friend discovered the two at home Monday afternoon. Morgado was said to be in a near catatonic state and semi-conscious, and Jason was already dead, CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang reported.
Neighbor Mercedes Henderson told Jiang she came face-to-face with Reish as he tried desperately to get into the apartment when he heard the news. “He was very upset and angry… the face…”
Those who knew the child are remembering him as a playful bundle of energy — a young life that was tragically cut short.
“He was fun and loving and bubbly,” said neighbor Michelle Henderson.
Touro College psychologist Jeff Gardere told Aiello very rarely is it an act of hate when a mother takes the life of her own child.
“Mothers who kill often suffer from mental illness and face tremendous stress in their lives,” Gardere said.
Sometimes coming to a perverse conclusion.
“Reasons in the most wrong way that the child is better off dead and she will be with that child if she commits suicide,” Gardere said.
As police seek to better understand this tragedy, they’re looking closely at the custody battle over Jason. Family Court records are sealed, but a source tells CBS 2 the judge had ruled against the mother on a number of issues late last week, Aiello reported.
Morgado is due back in court on Oct. 4.
Reish chose not to speak publicly about his son’s death and is surrounding himself with close family inside his Briarcliff Manor home, Jiang reported.
In addition to the custody fight, Morgado had money troubles, CBS 2 reports. She filed for bankruptcy two years ago.
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