Baby Bentley's seizures pick up, remains in critical condition

A six-week-old Spring Lake boy continues to fight for his life at a Grand Rapids hospital, a friend of the baby's family said Monday.
Becky Vargo
Aug 27, 2012


Bentley McIntyre remains in critical condition at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, hospital officials said Monday.

The baby was hospitalized early Friday morning after allegedly being shaken by his father. His mother, Kaylee Zalsman, was at work at the time.

“The MRI showed brain bleed, which is indicative of shaken baby,” Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said.

The baby’s father, Justin McIntyre, 23, also of Spring Lake, is lodged in the Ottawa County Jail on a charge of first-degree child abuse. Bond was set at $75,000.

Police declined to share any more details about what happened that night.

Autumn Ames — a close friend of the baby’s grandmother, Patti Zalsman — is acting as spokeswoman for the family. Ames said she has been to the hospital every day. She has also established a "Prayers for Bentley" Facebook page.

Ames said Zalsman’s nephew heard the baby crying and alerted the grandmother.

“Patti went downstairs and took Bentley from Justin,” Ames said. “That is when she realized something was wrong.”

Ames said family members, including Justin McIntyre, took the baby to North Ottawa Community Hospital.

According to Zalsman, McIntyre “seemed as upset and distraught as everyone else,” Ames said. “Not that it makes it right,” she added.

“I honestly feel he’s not an evil person — he just screwed up,” Ames said. “I don’t think he meant to (hurt the child) based on everything I’ve heard.”

The baby's mother, Kaylee Zalsman, has stayed by her child at the hospital day and night since the boy was injured, Ames said. During that time, the severe swelling of the child’s head has gone down.

“His face looked pretty normal yesterday,” Ames said Monday.

But Bentley has experienced a number of seizures and has a staph infection in his lungs, Ames said. An MRI has also indicated there is damage to the frontal lobe as well as the back of his brain.

The MRI also showed that there were no other injuries to the child, according to Ames.

Ames said the doctors have not yet given them a full diagnosis.

“It’s a waiting game,” she said. “They will know whether or not the child will be able to talk when it’s time for him to talk.”

Ames is also a day care provider who has cared for Bentley on occasion, she said.

“He was the sweetest, most quiet baby,” she said. “He never cried. He was very alert. We just really enjoy him.”

DeYoung said it’s not often his department deals with a suspected child abuse case this severe. He said he would never forget a case in the 1990s in which a 2-year-old girl died after being kicked in the head “with big combat boots.”

“It’s a tough deal,” DeYoung said.

McIntyre was scheduled for a pre-preliminary examination this morning in Ottawa County 58th District Court. That is basically a conference between attorneys in which a decision could be made to waive the preliminary examination and send the case to Circuit Court, DeYoung said.

The penalty for a first-degree child abuse conviction is up to 15 years in prison.



Maggi C

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained misplaced comment. Discussion Guidelines

Maggi C

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained misplaced comment. Discussion Guidelines

Maggi C

Now we are showing pictures of a baby who, at the very least, will be permanently disabled or at the most dead. What is going on at the Tribune. People used to complain about bad spelling or articles that ended abruptly. That was kid stuff compared to what this paper has become. The pictures of people on stretchers now seems mild compared to this. How would you like to see your children portrayed like this for all the world to see? I know I wouldn't.

Cheryl Welch

Hi Maggi. This photo was provided by a family friend for use online and in our newspaper. The family has said they appreciate community support during this difficult time. They've also, as this article notes, set up a fund at Fifth-Third bank to help out the family. They also continue to ask for the community's prayers.



I think what Maggi is trying to say is why? What has the reader really gained by seeing this photo published? The photo looks more like courtroom evidence than journalism.

Cheryl Welch

This photo says more than words ever could. This baby is the victim of what police say is shaken baby incident in our community. There is significant public interest in this case, and this is one of several photos of the baby that the family has shared with us to get the word out about how this little guy is doing.

Maggi C

There are a lot of things that are submitted to the paper. However, editing is not only a job but a responsibility. There have been many pictures in the past that have not been printed for very objective and quite silly reasons. I have not seen any positive comments on this picture or the accident pictures. I agree with the tabloid comment. Who is in charge of the Tribune?


I believe Ms Welch is now in charge. Nice bit of 'shock' journalism posting that pic. We really needed someone like you to come into our town and turn our newspaper around, right? How's that working out for you?

Cheryl Welch

It's working out great for us, thanks for asking.


It would appear some do not agree, nor appreciate your methods. We are a little town and like it that way.

Baby Bentleys Nana

Shame on you maggi. Know that your words, your comments are more disturbing then any picture that has been posted.


Two things here.. That's fine that the mother has placed this information on her Facebook page... But I would think we would use great restraint in publishing these photos in the local newspaper from someone Facebook page... If I was this suspect I would ask for a change of venue for his trial. One more reason for someone not to post information on the internet or Facebook or any other chat room.


I also have to say that I find this picture unnecessarily gruesome. The situation is unbelievably saddening, and I am glad to hear that the community is interested in this story and will come together to support the child and family. The Tribune can be proud of what roll it plays in this regard. But the picture -- a very sick baby with tubes going in and out everywhere -- adds nothing to the content of the article, Ms. Welch. Nor do the recent ever-more-graphic pictures of car-crash victims around town you have elected to publish add to the stories they are presented to illustrate. Ms. Welch, you imagined the Tribune could be our town's "tribal fire" reignited. Publishing this image is well off the mark, and is something more consistent with a tabloid or gossip rag.

Baby Bentleys Nana

It adds everything to the content of this article. Had you just read the article,by the end of the paper you would have forgotten about Bentley and not gave it another thought till the next article but this has made you stop and see that child abuse is real. Too many people want to know the news and what's going on in our community but don't want to see or hear the reality of it or the effects it has on our community. I, for one would like to thank the tribune for what they have done. This is the real story. So this "unnecessarily gruesome picture" as you call it may have very well been a part of what saved my grandsons life, had it not been so "graphic" people may not have supported the family as much or prayed as hard as they did. So thank you Ms. Welch for posting this picture!! Marsipan if you don't want to see or hear the true story and all its effects, then i suggest you don't read the paper or even turn on the news on your t.v anymore. There has to come a point when we stop just shaking our head and saying what a shame and actually get involved and do something about it,make a difference!


This family and Baby Bentley needs this community's support. Sharing this picture of this beautiful child humanizes this situation to a much greater extent. Of course we all have imaginations and some of us have become rather desensitized by what we read and view on a daily basis. I understand that some may be deeply troubled by this picture. We all should be. This is a horrible life-altering event unfolding for this family. But, this picture makes me want to pray harder and keep Bentley in the forefront of my thoughts. Yes, I understand the comment of future trial concerns for the father. I hope justice will be served. For now, thank you Kaylee for sharing your little guy with us. You have your community behind you!

Maggi C

Maybe there could have been a link for those who wanted to view the picture. That way the public, including children who want to keep up with the news, can choose whether to view the picture or not. I feel for the parents and the baby; but there is a place for pictures like this and the Tribune is not it. I haven't seen the print version, but I hope this picture was not "above the fold". Little kids walk past the newspaper boxes and I feel sorry for any who may have seen this picture.


Nice post, Willa. I agree!!!!

Baby Bentleys Nana

Thank you willa!!

Baby Bentleys Nana

Thank you willa!!


Really? Is this what you're concerned about..... the newspaper posting a photo of a sick baby? What you should be worried about is that this baby was shaken to within an inch of its life. Be upset with the dad. Who is now in jail thank goodness. I like that I have a newspaper in town that covers news instead of fluffy stuff. This is news like it or not. The reporter is just covering a news story. The newspaper didn't put this baby in the hospital... his dad did. The photo is sad...... but what are you upset about...really... you are upset that the baby is sick. Let us all hope the baby gets better and focus our attention on the baby and supporting this family.

Maggi C

This baby will never get better--because he was shaken within an inch of his life. He has too much brain damage. I am more than angry at the father! He is a despicable human being (although human may not be applicable to him). Don't think that I am okay with what the father did or that I don't feel for the family--especially the mother. That was not the point of my comments. I hope the "little guy's" mother has a good support system and by the comments it seems that she does. Good luck and good thoughts mom.


Never say never. Positive thoughts go a long way. I've had enough of your posts taking away from the core problem here. Why don't you start focusing on positive thoughts and prayers for that baby.

Maggi C

It is a miracle that the "little guy" woke up today (the new article). My prayers go to his mother and other family members who have a long road ahead. With rehab for the baby and the trial, stay strong and together. I DO have positive thoughts for the baby too. Like I said, IT IS A MIRACLE!!!

Baby Bentleys Nana

I truly hope maggi that you have seen what a miracle my grandson has become over the past month! this is the first time i have even looked at the comments on the tribune website and your first few words cut into my heart. This baby has gotten better!!! A huge part of his recovery to this point has been the huge out pouring of prayers for him and a part of that has been the pictures the tribune has posted of him. I, for one, have read other child abuse cases and my heart has went out to them but like so many others i have said a prayer and all but forgotten about it,something im not proud of let me assure you but to actually see the effects of child abuse makes you stop in your tracks and SEE what child abuse does,had it not been my grandson i would have prayed just a little harder,pulled at my heart strings that much more. To hear it is one thing but to see it has made all the world of difference in Bentleys life,had people not seen the pictures maybe they would have said a small prayer and moved on but seeing him has brought people to pray harder and longer and that dear maggi i do believe has made a huge difference in his life, the difference to get better. Your negative comment at the start of your post is truly no better then what you complained about as far as the gull of the tribune posting the pictures. We need to be aware of child abuse and not just say a prayer and forget and if posting a picture of my grandson was a shock to all then so be it because now maybe,just maybe, we will all realize just how serious and real child abuse is and if just one person grows from this or better yet gets active in OUR community to stop child abuse then it has not been in vain. With that being said i am so thankful to everyone who has said a prayer for Bentley!! You have all made the difference in his life and ours.


BVAN I could not agree more.


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.