Parents face additional charges in homicide of NW Indiana infant

Michael Zylstra (left) and Dannae Zylstra (right) | Jasper County sheriff’s office

The parents of a 2 month-old northwest Indiana boy whose death in March was ruled a homicide by child abuse are now facing additional charges.

Dannae Zylstra, 19, and her 27-year-old husband Michael Zylstra were charged with felony counts of neglect of a dependent following the March 8 death of their baby Ayden Zylstra at their Wheatfield home, according to the Jasper County sheriff’s office. Wheatfield is about 45 miles southwest of Gary.

Emergency crews were first called about 2 a.m. to the home, where Ayden was unresponsive and showing signs of respiratory distress, sheriff’s police said.

Paramedics performed CPR on the infant as he was taken to a hospital in Valparaiso. State child welfare investigators were notified by doctors that Ayden’s respiratory problems had been caused by a “traumatic injury,” police said.

Later in the day, police executed a search warrant at the family’s home, finding an unspecified amount of cocaine, methamphetamine, a mixture of heroin and fentanyl and drug paraphernalia, police said. Dannae and Michael Zylstra were arrested in a traffic stop in Wheatfield the next day.

Ayden was later transferred to the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m. Sunday, according to police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. An autopsy found he died of multiple injuries due to child abuse and ruled his death a homicide.

In addition to the original charges, Ayden’s parents were also charged with felony counts of maintaining a common nuisance and possession of methamphetamine and cocaine, police said. Those charges were filed before the baby’s death.

The parents were charged Friday with an additional felony count of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, police said.

Michael Zylstra, who was still in custody at the Jasper County Jail in Rensselaer on the previous neglect charges, is now being held on $30,000 bond, police said. Dannae Zylstra, who had previously been released on bond, turned herself over to the sheriff’s office on Friday. She is also being held on $30,000 bond.