This is another one that is hard for me to get through folks. One reason, is my only daughter is the same age as the victim, this also happened in the city I have lived all my life, not more than two minutes from my home, and lastly the nature in which she died. This story has really rocked our city. Not one single person here doesn’t know her story. If you don’t have any tissues you may want to go get some.
On July 28, 2011, Leo Ackley, 25, would take Baylee Stenman, 3, to his mother’s home after he found her unconscious and unresponsive on the floor of her bedroom next to her bed and could not wake her up. He claims he drove her to his sister’s house because he did not have a phone. He was also watching Baylee’s six-year-old sister at the time because their mother, Erica Stenman, was at work. In the days following Baylee’s death CPS removed Baylee’s older sister and place her with her biological father.
Leo’s sister, who was at his mother’s when he got there, told him they needed to head to the hospital, so they headed off to Bronson Battle Creek. While en route his sister called 911. During the call she explains they are on their way to the hospital. The dispatcher asks what happened to the child. The sister explains that Baylee seemed to be “knocked out” the dispatcher then advises the two to pull over and wait for an ambulance, which they do. While on the phone waiting for Emergency Personnel to arrive you can hear on the recorded call Leo saying, “Was sleeping on the bed, she must have fell off and **** hit the chair.” The sister repeats this back to the dispatcher. The dispatcher does ask for more information about the boyfriend to which he says he was the one watching Baylee.
Once at the hospital police were called. Baylee’s death was immediately deemed suspicious based upon the extent of her injuries. She had severe bleeding behind the eyes, and her brain was swelling. In fact, her brain was so swollen it was coming out of the bottom of her skull. She also had bruising on her neck. There were two bruises on both sides, just below the jawline, and about halfway across her neck. She was placed on life support, and three days later, August 1, 2011, would be removed from life support surrounded by family and friends. Her organs would be donated the following day, and her funeral held on August 3, 2011.
It wasn’t until September 29, 2011 that Leo Ackley would have an arrest warrant issued for the murder of Baylee. He was arrested the same day by the State of Michigan’s Fifth District Fugitive Recovery Team at a relatives home in Delton, MI. The reason the arrest warrant took so long is after autopsy results, which revealed swelling of the brain stem and retinal hemorrhaging, was authorities were waiting results from two other specialists to determine how the case would move forward. They wanted a clear picture of when and how Baylee’s brain was injured that way they could determine who she was with at the time of her injuries that caused her death.
Leo Ackley has been arraigned on charges of open murder and first degree child abuse. His case has also been bonded over to Circuit Court as of November 22, 2011 at a preliminary hearing. That day in court had some very emotional testimony. One of the most heartbreaking being that of Erica Stenman, little Baylee’s mother. She is documented as having said, “I didn’t have much, I only had fifteen minutes to get out the door. She came up and sat on my bed, she said, ‘Mommy, what are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m in a hurry honey, I’m running late for work.’” She then goes on to say that he boyfriend called her crying and seemed really upset. She said, “He said he thinks Baylee is having seizures.” Erica then rushed to the hospital to see her daughter. She said that when she saw her daughter, that Baylee was not talking or moving.
Leo Ackley still maintains his innocence and that Baylee had to have struck her head on something from falling out of bed. It has also been noted that there has never been any evidence of Leo being violent to Erica or her two children until the incident with Baylee. He does have some defenders out there, and I’m sure we’ll see the likes of them sometime.
Baylee’s older sister is still at her biological father’s home, but a custody battle has ensued.
There is a support group on Facebook for Baylee and the justice she deserves. Baylee enjoyed riding her bike, riding in the truck, swimming, and her new puppy. She also enjoyed spending time with her family and friends.
Rest in peace Baylee. Swim and ride bikes with the angels.
***Thanks go to me for the tip***