As Westchester County authorities investigate the killing of four-year-old Jason Reish—allegedly perpetrated by his mother Manuela Morgado—it's emerged that the little boy was at the center of a protracted custody battle. Morgado's lawyer told the Journal News that the couple split custody of the boy between Morgado's Mamaroneck condo and his father Timothy Reish's home in Briarcliff Manor, "It was kind of a King Solomon agreement, which was not very practical as the child was reaching school age."
The Journal News reports, "She had recently learned that the boy, Jason Reish, had special needs and wanted him transferred to a nursery school in her hometown that she believed would better serve him and also be more convenient for her. A judge in Family Court, however, decided it was too late to transfer the boy given that the school year was already starting." Morgado's lawyer Dennis Light said, "It was a burden to her to have to bring the child all the way to Briarcliff Manor two, maybe three times a week, when the child resided with her." (The two towns are about 22-28 miles away, depending on what route you take.)
Light told the Post that Jason had been diagnosed as a special needs child and the school in Mamaroneck was recommended for him, and it's possible it would have taken months to resolve the issue. Light "believes Morgado, a graphic designer, may have been pushed to the brink after a Friday court conference with an appeals judge that ended with no resolution." He recalled, "She was disappointed... Looking back now, she seemed a little detached. At the time, she just seemed cold. I believe she took it as yet another defeat."
On Monday, Morgado was found, semi-conscious, in her apartment with Jason's dead body in her arms. While authorities have not released any autopsy results yet, it's believed that Jason was given helium.
Reish, a Manhattan orthopedic surgeon, lives in Briarcliff Manor with his first wife, Erin Reish. Back in 2005, he tried to have their divorce proceedings moved to Ohio (where the couple was living), but the Post points out, "Erin [who supported him during medical school] blasted him in court documents, suggesting he was trying to pull a fast one because New York considers a medical license part of the marital assets, and Ohio doesn’t." Apparently the couple, who have two sons, reconciled after he split with Morgado, whom he never married. Light told the Journal News that the two women "had a fine relationship. There was no acrimony between the two women that I’m aware of."