Mother charged with murder in child's death at Raleigh motel

From staff reportsOctober 12, 2012 

Michelle Danielle Harpster

— Police served a murder warrant Thursday on Michelle Danielle Harpster, formally charging her in the Sept. 26 killing of her 2-year-old son at the Super 8 motel on New Bern Avenue.

Harpster, 29, was taken into custody at the Wake County Courthouse and ordered held without bond.

She had been hospitalized for gashes suffered in a suicide attempt after, police say, she killed Joshua Callahan. She and the dead boy were found in a third-floor motel room following a call to police by worried motel staff that could not open the door to the room or get any response from Harpster.

It is common for police agencies not to serve arrest warrants on injured suspects until they have been released from medical care, even when they have identified the person and obtained the warrant.

Harpster had been in a custody dispute about Joshua with his father, Mark Callahan of North Port, Fla. Callahan had obtained a court order for Harpster to return to Florida for a custody hearing.

Callahan and Harpster had had a relationship in Florida, although she left while still pregnant with their son, and he was born in Maryland. She had visited Florida since, and motel workers said she had a Florida driver’s license when she checked in.

Police who searched the room during their investigation seized broken glass and two razor blades along with cell phones, notebooks and other items, according to search warrants they returned to Wake County Court late last week.

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