GRAND RAPIDS -- Heather Brenner heard her neighbor talk about being "frustrated" with his infant son in the past, but cannot believe allegations he admitted to shaking the boy more than 50 times.
"There seemed like there would have been some signs of it, but there really wasn't," said Brenner, who lives in the same duplex as a couple charged with felony child abuse. "I would have noticed something."
Police allege Brett Michael Walsh, 21, caused critical head injuries to his son, Viktor, after shaking him Thursday morning. Detectives also allege the boy's mother, Suzanne Marie Fox, 25, knew about the abuse and looked the other way.
Both are now charged with criminal counts of child abuse. Walsh, arraigned Friday in Grand Rapids District Court, is held on a $1 million bond in the Kent County Jail for first-degree and second-degree child abuse. Fox has been arrested for second-degree child abuse.
Police said the 3-month-old baby is in critical condition and allege the abuse happened in September and this month. If convicted, he faces 15 years in prison and she four years.
Testimony for an arrest warrant Friday showed Viktor was hospitalized on life-support after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
Police said Walsh called 911 about 9 a.m. Thursday from the couple's apartment, 1334 Buffalo Ave. NE.
"Upon (the) dad coming out of the door, he said 'I screwed up, I shook the baby,'" Grand Rapids police Detective Kristen Rogers said in an arrest warrant affidavit, later recounting how the "dad has admitted over 50 times he has shaken the baby.
"Yesterday was only 10 to 15 seconds, but the day prior he had shook him for five minutes. (He) has tensed up in the past, but never stopped breathing as he did yesterday."
Rogers said Fox made her own admissions.
Fox admitted "that she's seen him on several occasions shake the baby, keeps hoping he will stop, but neither have sought any medical treatment for the child," Rogers said.
Family of both Walsh and Fox declined comment Monday.
Brenner, said she knew Walsh and Fox were inexperienced parents, but never suspected any abuse. The two families spent time together a few times each week.
"He would worry about being frustrated with the baby," Brenner said.
"We'd always tell him to bring the baby down here if he needed help."
Brenner said Viktor was born 2 months premature, but seemed to be progressing. The parents, who worked different shifts, were happy.
"It's just crazy. I would have never seen it coming," she said. "They both had jobs. They seemed fairly stable."
Fox, who works part-time in advertising for The Press, was at a doctor's appointment when Thursday's alleged abuse occurred, Brenner said.
The two families had dinner together Wednesday night and Walsh stayed there until 3 a.m., sleeping on the couch. The baby was crying earlier that evening, but Brenner said the fussing didn't seem out of the ordinary because she was told the baby had colic.
She is stunned by the allegations.
"I don't want to believe he was really up there doing that all this time," Brenner said.