Mom charged with son's death in Raleigh moved to women's prison

She was moved to women’s prison for ‘safekeeping’

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2012 

MIchelle Danielle Harpster


— A 29-year-old woman accused of murdering her toddler son in a Raleigh motel last month has been moved to the N.C. Correctional Institution for Women, a Wake County jail spokeswoman said Friday.

Michelle Danielle Harpster was taken to the women’s prison for “safekeeping” soon after police charged her Thursday with killing her 2-year-old son, Joshua Callahan.

The spokeswoman said inmates are transferred from the jail to the women’s prison on Bragg Street for various reasons, including the need for medical or psychiatric care.

Harpster had been a patient at WakeMed since Sept. 26, when police found her son dead in a third-floor room at the Super 8 Motel on New Bern Avenue. Police said Harpster was unresponsive after a maintenance employee opened the door of room 323 where she had been living periodically for the past several months.

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

Harpster had been in a custody dispute over 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 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 seized broken glass and two razor blades along with cellphones, notebooks and other items, according to search warrants made public last week.

Harpster was admitted to the jail just before noon Thursday and made her first court appearance Thursday afternoon, the jail spokeswoman said.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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