JASPER COUNTY — Dannae Yozman, previously known by the last name of Zylstra, has begun a 12-year-jail sentence, for behavior which resulted in the death of her infant son, Ayden Zylstra.
As part of a plea agreement, two felony charges of neglect resulting in endangerment and death were dropped. Yozman, who was 18 when the case began in early 2017, pled guilty to a new level 3 felony charge of neglect resulting in serious injury. Zylstra and Yozman’s divorce was finalized in December 2017.
Both Yozman and her ex-husband, Michael Zylstra, had been arrested because of their son’s death and evidence of drug use which was found in their home.
Yozman already has a jail credit of 648 days served behind bars. She is tentatively set to spend the final year of her incarceration on probation.
Due to a conflict of interest, she was prosecuted by Newton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor James Reed instead of Jasper County Prosecutor Jacob Taulman. Yozman was defended by attorney James Voyles.
The case began on March 2, 2017, when the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about an infant unable to breathe. This call originated from the Zylstra residence in Wheatfield. When deputies arrived, they found the infant in respiratory distress and initiated CPR until Wheatfield medics relieved them.
The infant was initially taken to Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso. But, due to his critical condition, he was soon transferred to Comer’s Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago’s Medical Center.
Investigations later revealed that Ayden Zylstra died from head trauma and had evidence of prior injuries. Terry Risner, who was then Jasper County Sheriff, said the nature of the injuries was made clear by the evidence.
“The child did have a healing injury,” Risner said, “so it had to have happened prior to the child’s death. The injury was a direct result from the parties that were charged.”
The initial medical examination revealed that his respiratory distress was caused by traumatic injury. Child Protective Services were then notified and informed the JCSO.
That same day, JCSO deputies and the Wheatfield Marshal executed a search warrant at the Zylstra residence, due to the complaint. During this search, items commonly associated with narcotics and drug usage were found. This included residue of cocaine, methamphetamine and a mixture of heroin and fentanyl.
The couple were taken into custody at the Jasper County Detention Center the next evening, following a traffic stop on County Road 400 West. Charges were filed against them on March 4.
Around that that time, an extensive joint investigation began, which included the Wheatfield Police Department, Jasper County Sheriff’s detectives and the forensic pathologist of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Soon afterwards, new warrants were issued for Zylstra and Yozman, and these warrants were both executed on the same day.
Zylstra, still in custody for the previous charges, was arrested for the new charge and placed under a $300,000 surety bond or a $30,000 cash bond. Yozman, who had been released on bond for the previous charges, surrendered herself to the sheriff’s officers and was held under the same increased bond requirements.
Jasper County Circuit Court Judge John Potter sentenced Zylstra, to 30 years in the Indiana Department of Correction in early 2018, as part of a plea agreement.