Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh police found cellphones, notebooks, broken glass and razor blades inside a motel room where, they allege, a young mother killed her 2-year-old son. The details were released Monday in search warrants connected to the investigation of the child’s death.
Police found Joshua Callahan dead inside the Super 8 Motel at 3804 New Bern Ave. Sept. 26. His mother, Michelle Danielle Harpster, 29, was charged the next day with killing him. Police say Harpster tried to kill herself.
Raleigh police seized the following items from Room 323: Verizon LG cellphone, Samsung cellphone, two cellphone power cords, two notebooks, blue and black backpack with clothing and other items, pink duffel bag with clothing and other items, broken glass, two razor blades, two cigarette butts and pieces of clothing.
As of Monday morning, Harpster remained at WakeMed. A spokesman for Raleigh police said he did not know when Harpster would be moved to jail, and her transfer would be a medical decision.
Officers were called to the motel room in response to a 911 call from a hotel employee about a guest refusing to leave. According to the 911 call, the woman was supposed to check out of the hotel but had asked to stay for an extra hour.
When an employee tried to get in the room, the door was locked. Despite repeated knocking, no one answered the door. The employees said Harpster dead-bolted the door and placed furniture in front of it to keep anyone from getting inside.
Witnesses said that, once police arrived, they saw through the door that Harpster and Joshua were on a bed. She had cuts on her arms and legs, and the boy was foaming at the mouth.
"It was kind of devastating," said motel guest Domeniyce Harris. "Every time we had seen him before, he was a nice little kid."
Motel employees told WRAL News that Harpster was involved in a custody dispute with Joshua's father and that she had been staying at the motel off and on for about three months. Mark Callahan told WRAL News that he had not seen Harpster or his son since 2009.