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Shaken baby case investigated in Ferrysburg

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:42 AM
bvargo@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 231

McIntyre’s wall photo is a picture of his newborn son.

Now Bentley fights for his life in an intensive care unit in Grand Rapids, his father is behind bars, and his mother holds vigil at the hospital.

"I need prayers for my son, Bentley," Zalsman wrote on her Facebook page early Friday morning. "He has bleeding in his brain and has had two seizures. He got air-lifted to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital about an hour ago and I'm on my way up there now. Mama loves you, baby boy, you're a fighter just like mommy. I love you more than anything, little guy."

Bentley remained in critical condition Friday afternoon.

The young parents had been staying at Cindy Baldus’ Ferrysburg home on Maple Street. While Zalsman worked third shift, McIntyre stayed at the house with the baby.

As Baldus prepared to go to bed at about 1 a.m. Friday, she said she heard the baby fussing in another room. She went to check on him.

“You know with a new father, you need to make sure” everything’s OK, she said.

The baby was not OK. So Baldus said she and McIntyre took the child to the hospital.

While medical personnel treated Bentley at North Ottawa Community Hospital, and later carried the infant to a helicopter to transfer to Grand Rapids, Grand Haven police officers appeared and asked questions.

Once they determined that the boy’s injuries could have been inflicted by McIntyre at the Ferrysburg home, they turned the case over to Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police to investigate.

Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said the case is being investigated as a shaken baby situation.

Officers arrested McIntyre on suspected child abuse.

Bentley's mother, Zalsman, rushed to Grand Rapids, where she and family members waited for answers. He remained in critical condition Friday afternoon.

McIntyre is lodged in the Ottawa County Jail on a $75,000 cash or surety bond, levied on him at his arraignment late Friday morning via video in Ottawa County District Court.

The first-degree felony child abuse charge carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

If he does post bond, a judge prohibited him from contacting or seeing Zalsman or his son.

The situation shocked family and community members alike.

“They were just staying here because they just had a new baby,” Baldus said. “I would have never guessed in a million years (that he would do something like this.)”

Baldus said that McIntyre, who’s originally from Kent City, seemed like a nice kid. He listed on his Facebook page that he works at Gentex Corp. in Zeeland on the assembly line and attended Grand Rapids Community College.

“You never would have expected a mean bone in his body,” she said.

It appeared from Zalsman’s Facebook page that the two split up earlier this week. Prior to and after that Zalsman posted about how she worked third shift, went to college after work, got little sleep, and that Bentley was the only good thing in her life.

“I miss feeling his little kicks,” Zalsman wrote in another post. “But I love feeling his hands holding my fingers. July 17, 2012. Best day of my life. Thank you, Bentley.”

Friends and family of Zalsman expressed sympathy and support.

“Oh no,” wrote Leslie Czyzewski of Muskegon on Facebook on Friday. “Hang in there little man!! We all love you! We're praying for you!”

“I'm praying for little Bentley and for his momma,” wrote Cheris Vermeulen. “You’re going to need all the strength you can get for a while.”

Next-door neighbor Jackie Joiner said she was dismayed to hear about the situation.

“I’m really surprised,” she said. “I guess I expected you would hear a lot of noise and yelling. I just don’t hear anything from these neighbors.”

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