Police are considering the possibility that a Westchester woman intentionally suffocated her 4-year-old son, an official familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.
The official also told the Associated Press that the mother had recently purchased a tank of helium, a breathing mask and a tube. The official cautioned, however, that there had been no finding that helium was used in the killing.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because police were not releasing those details of their investigation.
The boy, Jason Reish, was found dead Monday in his mother's condominium in Mamaroneck. The mother, Manuela Maria Morgado, was semiconscious after apparently attempting suicide.
She has been charged with second-degree murder and is due in court Thursday. A call to her lawyer, Max DeFabio, was not immediately returned.
The boy's father, Dr. Timothy Reish, issued a statement Wednesday through his lawyers saying, "The events which led to the untimely death of our beloved Jake are both incomprehensible and unimaginable. We will never be able to comprehend the heinous actions of Jake's mother."
The boy's parents were never married and lived apart. They had a "50-50" custody arrangement for their son but had recently gone to court with a dispute over where he should attend preschool, said Morgado's lawyer in the matter, Dennis Light.
Light said Morgado, 46, was frustrated when a judge ruled that Jason should stay at a school in Briarcliff Manor, near his father's home, rather than switch to one in Mamaroneck that she favored.
"But there was nothing that would make you think something like this would happen," the lawyer said. He said he had met Jason once and the boy was "very bubbly, full of life and energy, just a normal 4-year-old."
The Westchester County district attorney's office said an autopsy has been completed, but the cause of the boy's death won't be determined until toxicology tests are complete.