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Mamaroneck boy's dad: Slain son was 'warm, sweet, smart, energetic'

Timothy Reish's two sons help carry the casket

Timothy Reish's two sons help carry the casket of their half-brother, murdered 4-year-old Jason Reish, out of the Scarborough Presbyterian Church in Briarcliff Manor after his funeral service. (Oct. 5, 2012) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

Tim Reish recalled the tiny moments from his 4-year-old son Jake's life -- trips to the car wash, sitting on the couch watching golf and dinner-table toasts with his older brothers.

"Clink, clink," Jake would say, tapping his sippy cup against glasses held aloft by his half brothers Nick and Jack, ages 11 and 13.

On Friday, Nick and Jack were among the pallbearers who ushered a white wooden casket carrying their brother's body into Scarborough Presbyterian Church in Briarcliff Manor. Inside, some 150 mourners had gathered to remember the boy with boundless energy and a head full of blonde curls.

Police say Jason "Jake" Reish was suffocated by his mother, Manuela Maria Morgado, late Sunday or early Monday, in the bedroom of the Mamaroneck condominium apartment where they lived.

Morgado, 46, was in the midst of a bitter custody battle with Reish, who fathered the child during a separation from his wife Erin, the mother of the other two boys.

Morgado faces a charge of second-degree murder and has been ordered not to have any contact with Tim Reish or his wife. The couple say they received "threatening letters" from Morgado in the days leading up to Jake's death.

Reish, a Manhattan-based orthopedist, choked back tears as he told of the helplessness he has felt because he was not able to protect his son.

"I beat myself up over not being able to be there," Reish said during a 15-minute eulogy.

"I am going to need the strength of 10 billion men," said Reish, 43. "I stand up here today in unimaginable pain. I cannot imagine anything more difficult for a father than to bury a son. But we will get through this. We have to get through this."

Reish, his brother Matthew, sister Sara Reish Desmond and longtime friend Jeff Manganello each eulogized the youngster. None mentioned Morgado and none talked about the way Jake died.

"He didn't have an opportunity to marry, to have children of his own," Reish said. "That was all senselessly stolen from him."

It is unclear whether any of Morgado's family turned out for the funeral. After a court hearing Thursday, Morgado's lawyer, Max DiFabio, said she has been grieving.

"Ms. Morgado is very upset at this time," he said.

Mamaroneck Village Court Judge Christie Derrico said she is considering whether to order a mental health evaluation for Morgado.

Police said they believe Morgado may have used helium in an attempt to suffocate the child. Morgado left suicide notes and attempted to kill herself with pills, sources close to the investigation have said.

The Rev. Tim Ives, the church's pastor, urged mourners to recall the gift that Jake gave them during his brief life.

"There are no darker days than this," Ives said. "But the darkness will not win. My faith tells me so."

Tim Reish recalled the surge of joy he felt picking Jake up on Friday mornings before heading off for chicken fingers or a trip to the car wash.

"He was a warm, sweet, smart, energetic boy," Reish said.

"I will never be able to teach him how to shave, teach him how to throw a changeup," the father said. "I will never be able to teach him how to catch a trout with a fly."

In the crowd -- a gathering that included school-age boys and girls -- there were sobs.

"I'll cherish the moments I held you in my arms," Reish said.

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