This report aired Dateline Friday, July 23. The full hour will not be available online. Discuss the case here.
KEITH MORRISON reporting: He was everybody's idea of the perfect best man.
Dr. ANDREW BAGBY: (Wedding videotape) Best man is a little bit of a poor title for these things. I mean, the best man is really the groom.
MORRISON: Andrew Bagby. Did anyone have more friends than he?
MORRISON: Ah, but there was a lot to say about Andrew.
MORRISON: It was November 2001 when Dr. Andrew Bagby, 28 years old, was found in hospital scrubs lying facedown in the state park in Derry Township, Pennsylvania. He'd been shot five times, including once in the back of the head, execution style.
KATE: I said, `My son? Murdered?'
Mr. DAVID BAGBY: I threw the phone at the desk, and I jumped up and just screamed, `No!'
KATE: He's so loved. Thought, you know, `Who would want to kill him?'
MORRISON: Andrew was the only child of software engineer David Bagby and his wife, Kate, a nurse practitioner. He was the whole world to them.
MORRISON: What do you do about this? What do you want it...
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KATE: Wanted to die.
Mr. BAGBY: Yeah.
MORRISON: Actually contemplate suicide?
Mr. BAGBY: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
Mr. BAGBY: Very seriously. Very, very serious.
KATE: I thought, `Well, God, this is it.' You know? `You gave me a lovely son, and now it's over.'
MORRISON: When another of Andrew's best friends, Kurt Kuenne, heard about the murder, he also went into a tailspin. But he was moved to honor his friend the best way he knew how, by making a film. That's what Kurt does, he's an independent filmmaker. And so he set out to collect the memories of Andrew's family and giant circle of friends.
Mr. KURT KUENNE (Director): I decided to go on the road to interview people, because I thought, you know, he's never going to have a wedding.
MORRISON: But as Kurt made his way around the globe, his tribute materialized into something far bigger, and much darker, than anyone could have imagined. Much of this DATELINE report incorporates material from Kurt's documentary, as well as something else: the childhood films he made as he taught himself his craft.
MORRISON: Kurt and Andrew grew up together in Northern California, where the fledgling director gave Andrew starring roles in some of his earliest ventures.
Mr. KUENNE: He liked playing bad guys a lot.
MORRISON: So different from who Andrew really was, a kind, devoted son who made Eagle Scout at 15. Inspired by his mother's tales of interesting medical cases and wonderful patients, Andrew decided he would be a doctor. Laudable ambition, difficult to achieve.
MORRISON: It's no easy thing to be a doctor in America. Andrew, despite his obvious abilities, was turned down by every medical school in the country. But he was accepted here, St. John's, Newfoundland, the easternmost point in North America. Memorial University Medical School. And thus the decision from which all else followed. Andrew came to St. John's.
Mr. BAGBY: He's now engaged to this lovely girl, and he's going to go to med school. It's great.
MORRISON: The girl was Heather, also an aspiring doctor. And she followed Andrew to St. John's. And when, after his first year at med school, Heather broke off the engagement, Andrew was crushed.
HEATHER: I knew he'd been struggling with me moving on and dating other people.
MORRISON: And then, in the spring of 1995, Andrew found someone, a Newfoundlander, also a doctor in training, a woman named Shirley Turner.
HEATHER: I was so excited that he was dating somebody. Thought that maybe he had found somebody that he could really be happy with.
MORRISON: But would that somebody turn out to be a blessing or a curse?
Corporal GARDNER: (Audio recording) Yeah, Dr. Turner, I'm Corporal Gardner with the Pennsylvania State Police. I have to tell you that Andrew is dead.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Are you sure?
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) Yes, ma'am, I am. I'm absolutely sure.
MORRISON: Coming up, Andrew dead. But how? Why?
Mr. SIMPSON: I said, `Do not meet her in private.' He said, `What can happen?'
MORRISON: Life for Andrew Bagby was good. His medical studies in Newfoundland were complete. He had returned to the US and had discovered a passion for family practice, where his love for people--and theirs for him--seemed as natural, as comfortable as the quiet town in Pennsylvania in which he'd chosen to live. And then, November 2001, Andrew Bagby was shot dead in a state park not far from the hospital in which the young doctor was a resident, and his devoted parents all but lost the will to live.
MORRISON: After you found out about Andrew's death, the impulse just ended. You were done.
Mr. BAGBY: Yeah.
MORRISON: What stopped you?
Mr. BAGBY: I think it was a rage at the person who did this. I got to go to the trial. I got to see what happens to the bastard who did this.
MORRISON: The rage was tempered with a yearning to know just why Andrew had been assassinated. Andrew, of all people, seemed to have no enemies at all. The only thing about his life that didn't make sense to some friends and family was his relationship with that doctor from Newfoundland, the one he'd started dating when going to medical school there.
MORRISON: Shirley Turner, also a doctor in training, was 12 years older than Andrew, twice divorced, a mother of three. Andrew assured his filmmaker friend Kurt that the 40-year-old was a passing fancy.
MORRISON: What did you think when you heard that?
Mr. KUENNE: You know, he said--she said, `Look, I'm not looking for another husband. I'm just looking for somebody to hang out with and have fun here in school.' And he's like, `I'm not looking for anything serious. I just want to get through medical school.'
MORRISON: As Kurt tracked down Andrew's friends for the documentary he was making, he discovered that not a one had anything favorable to say about Shirley.
Mr. SIMPSON: Andrew, you know you can do a lot better. Said, `Oh, no, I really can't.'
Mr. SIMPSON: You don't need to go out with a woman because you can't think you can do better.
Mr. BAGBY: What a flake. What a flaky person. The first time we had contact with her was over the phone. She called trying to get Andrew when he was here doing a rotation here in California. Kate answered the phone, and she couldn't get off the phone for an hour.
MORRISON: What thought or feeling did that give you?
KATE: I thought, `Well, he's got to get out of this.'
MORRISON: But Shirley would make it tough for Andrew to do that. When he returned to the States, Shirley showed up soon after. She landed a residency at a hospital in Iowa, several states away but still close enough to allow occasional weekends with Andrew in Pennsylvania. Andrew's parents say he tried, frequently, to ease out of the relationship altogether, but Shirley wouldn't buy it.
Mr. BAGBY: She just kept coming back, and coming back and coming back. She would never go away.
Mr. BAGBY: And part of Andrew's problem was, I think, he was just too nice to say, you know, `Get the hell out of my life. I'm tired of this. Go away.'
MORRISON: Andrew tried to make a clean break with Shirley in October 2001. But a few weeks later, she showed up in Pennsylvania, unexpected, for the wedding of one of his friends. For this night they were a couple once again, dancing and drinking together. But on Sunday, when he drove her to the airport, Andrew made it clear to Shirley it was over for good.
KATE: On Sunday night I got out of bed and prayed because I thought Andrew was at risk. I had this overwhelming feeling. And I prayed to God to be looking after him.
MORRISON: I never know what to think about these feelings that people get.
Mr. BAGBY: I have a lot of trouble with those things too, and I suspect what really goes on, what's called intuition, is really a very, very complex calculation of lots of little indicators, little things that Andrew said on the phone maybe. Maybe the last time you talked to Shirley there was some very subtle change in tone.
MORRISON: In Kurt Kuenne's documentary, Clark Simpson, one of Andrew's close friends at the hospital, remembers that November morning just two weeks later when Shirley surprised Andrew again.
Mr. SIMPSON: He said, `You'll never guess who showed up on my doorstep at 5:30.' And I said, `Who?' He said, `The psychotic bitch.'
Mr. SIMPSON: And I told him, I said, `You know, Andrew, when I break up with somebody and put them on a plane and send them 1300 miles away,' I said, `They knock on my front door, I'm going out the back door and I'm calling the police.' He said, `What do you mean?' I said, `Andrew,' I said, `be serious. Nobody drives 16 hours after you've just broken up with them.' I said, `Do not meet her in private.' He said, `What can happen?'
MORRISON: But Andrew did agree to meet Shirley in a nearby park.
Mr. SIMPSON: And he said, `I'm going to need to catch up with you, and we're going to have to do some serious talking.' Well, I said, `Bring some beer. I only live a block away.' I said, `When do you think you'll be done?' He said, `Well, it's 4:30 now. Meeting her at 6. 7:30 I'll be at your house.'
Mr. SIMPSON: Things people should know about Andrew, he was never late. You know what, when Andrew didn't show up at 7:30, I knew something was very wrong.
MORRISON: Andrew's body was discovered the following morning with bullets lodged in his face, buttock, chest, the back of his head. When police interviewed the hospital staff...
Mr. SIMPSON: I said, `Well, you don't have to look far.' They're like, `What do you mean?' I said, `This woman was in town. She was here.' I said, `Find her, and I think you'll find who did this.'
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) Is this Dr. Turner?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) This is Shirley Turner, yes.
MORRISON: Police got Shirley Turner on the phone back in Iowa.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) I have to tell you that Andrew is dead.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Are you sure?
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) Yes, ma'am, I am. I'm absolutely sure.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) His parents don't even know, do they? Oh, my God. You can't tell them this over the phone.
MORRISON: The ammunition used to kill Andrew was CCI .22 caliber bullets. It turns out Shirley owned a .22 caliber handgun, which she acquired while living in Iowa.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) I'm not going to kid you, Doctor.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) I know.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) I'm interested in the gun. And you just bought the gun, right? Not too long ago?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Yeah.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) I understand that.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Well, I have that for protection.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) Yeah. I can understand that. I'm just curious...
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Yeah, and I wanted to know for safety.
Cpl. GARDNER: (Audio recording) Would you be willing to turn the gun into your local police department so they could get it to us to let us look at it?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Yes.
MORRISON: But then she claimed she couldn't find it.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) It's either in my closet or my bedroom. Or it's in the car.
MORRISON: Shirley also claimed to have been at home in Iowa, sick in bed the day of the murder. They could check cell towers then, but only manually. It would take two weeks. And in the meantime, without that crucial piece of evidence to charge her with Andrew's murder, Shirley Turner quietly left US soil and returned home to Newfoundland.
KATE: So this man said to me, `Do you know that Shirley Turner's pregnant with your son's child?'
MORRISON: When Dr. Andrew Bagby's bullet-riddled corpse was
found in a Pennsylvania state park in November 2001, his devastated parents
prayed that his murderer, whoever it was, would be swiftly brought to justice.
(Crime scene photos; David; Kate)
MORRISON: How did you find out what happened, how he had been killed?
Mr. BAGBY: The police didn't give us very much information, but they started
to let out hints that Shirley Turner was the prime suspect.
MORRISON: Was that a shock?
(Shirley and Andrew)
KATE: It was shocking, but not a surprise.
Mr. BAGBY: Right. Yeah.
MORRISON: But she was allowed to go back to Newfoundland?
Mr. BAGBY: Without those cell phone records, they couldn't formally charge
her. And if they don't charge her, they had no way to restrict her travel.
MORRISON: And go she did, back to Newfoundland, Canada. And one
of the first to see her there was T.J. Shears, the eldest of Shirley's three
children, who had recently been in a bad car accident.
(Photo of Shirley; "Canada" on building; T.J. Shears walking)
Mr. T.J. SHEARS: My mom was just like, `Oh, hey.' Well, I was hurt in an
accident. She was coming here to take care of me. Right? It didn't clue in
at all that she was fleeing the US.
MORRISON: T.J. says while he was touched that she'd shown up at
the hospital, he was also a little surprised. He says his mother was so often
unavailable, especially from the time she started medical school. He was in
high school then.
(Shears; building exterior)
Mr. SHEARS: I would cook supper sometimes when she wasn't around. I kind of
took care of myself at that point.
MORRISON: And ultimately she sent him away, with no forewarning,
to live with his father in a tiny coastal village hundreds of miles away.
(Beach and coast)
Mr. SHEARS: I can remember being really upset and pissed off about that
happening because I had--I had friends here, and I had no time to tell anybody
basically why. I didn't even know why I was going, other than Mom didn't want
us around. We were in the way, I guess, of her trying to go to school.
MORRISON: And, says T.J., in the way of her opportunities to be
in the company of younger men.
(Shirley and Andrew on video)
Mr. SHEARS: She's kind of reliving a university life again.
(Shirley and Andrew)
MORRISON: Including Andrew Bagby.
(Shirley and Andrew)
Mr. SHEARS: He was funny.
(Shirley and Andrew)
MORRISON: When T.J. heard about Andrew's murder...
(Shirley and Andrew)
Mr. SHEARS: I just figure, `OK, well, he was in America.'
MORRISON: Things happen in America.
Mr. SHEARS: Things happen in America that don't seem to happen up here as
MORRISON: When somebody tells you that your mother may have--was a suspect...
Mr. SHEARS: Mm-hmm.
MORRISON: ...what's your first thought?
Mr. SHEARS: No, it has to be a mistake. Couldn't be her.
MORRISON: Two weeks after Andrew's murder, cell phone records
would show that Shirley Turner drove all the way from Iowa to Andrew's
neighborhood in Pennsylvania, arrived there the day of the murder, and then
she, or at least her cell phone, returned to Iowa. With that powerful
evidence, Shirley Turner was formally charged with Andrew's murder and
arrested by Newfoundland police. American authorities asked Canadian
authorities to send her back to the US, which would require an extradition
hearing. But before that could happen, Shirley was apparently deemed neither
dangerous nor a flight risk and almost immediately released on bail, most of
it posted by one of her mentors from med school, a psychiatrist to whom she'd
gone for treatment after Andrew's murder. The Bagbys could scarcely believe
(Photo of Andrew; cell phone towers; photo of Shirley; maps; suburban street;
photo of house; newspaper clipping; photo of Shirley; maps; cell phone tower;
Shirley in court; court documents; flashing police lights; American flag
flying; Canadian flag flying; Supreme Court of Newfoundland building exterior;
photos of Shirley; court document; university building; man talking to
reporters; court documents; Kate and David)
KATE: People thought she was delicate, you know, and looked...
Mr. BAGBY: Yep.
KATE: She couldn't kill. But I used to look at her hand and think, it
doesn't take much to pull a trigger, does it?
MORRISON: Was it reasonable for the court to trust her? Laws governing the
rights of defendants are fairly strong in this country, but there's something
about Newfoundlanders in particular which may have contributed to the judge's
decision to grant bail. Serious crime is rare in this country. If
Newfoundlanders tend to trust each other, perhaps it's because, generally,
With a skilled lawyer on hand to do Shirley Turner's bidding, the
Bagbys wondered if there might ever be an extradition hearing.
(Shirley in court; Supreme Court of Newfoundland sign)
Mr. BAGBY: And then they started slogging through the courts with one issue
after another. And it just took forever.
MORRISON: In the meantime, Andrew's parents made a momentous
decision. They quit their jobs and moved from California to Newfoundland.
(Photo of David and Kate; airplane; lake and coast)
MORRISON: Moved, lock, stock and barrel.
Mr. BAGBY: Lock, stock and barrel, yeah.
MORRISON: But here's the thing. It wasn't just to monitor the
extradition process. Shirley Turner had some startling news. She was
pregnant, and the baby was Andrew's. It had happened almost surely the last
night they were together, and DNA tests would later prove that Andrew was
indeed the father of that baby.
(Supreme Court exterior; court in progress; house exterior; Shirley and Shears
MORRISON: When you did find out that she was pregnant, what was your thought?
Mr. BAGBY: The baby would be half Andrew, and that, for us, was sweet. We
get a chance to have some of Andrew again.
MORRISON: Andrew's best friend, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, suddenly
just knew what he had begun as a small film to memorialize his old friend
would now have to be something else, a visual letter to Andrew's baby.
(Photo of Andrew and Kurt; Kurt editing film; collection of videotapes with
Mr. KUENNE: It was no longer just my search for what was left of
(Collection of videotapes of raw footage)
Mr. KUENNE: I thought, I'm kind of the keeper of all this footage that is
kind of the only way that this little boy is going to get to know his dad.
(Clip from amateur video)
Mr. KUENNE: I vowed to collect every memory for you before they
(Andrew in amateur films)
MORRISON: As for Andrew's parents, David and Kate, they were
about to enter the mouth of the lion.
(Graduation photo of Andrew, Kate and David; Shirley with child)
MORRISON: She kept trying to get between you and the baby.
KATE: Oh, yes.
Mr. BAGBY: Yes. If she had her way, we would not have had any visitation at
MORRISON: Coming up, fighting not just to see their grandson, but
keep him safe, which they feared was about to become even more difficult.
(Photos of David and Kate with Zachary; Shirley being escorted from court)
KATE: I sat there and bit my lip and cried.
MORRISON: When The Best Man continues.
MORRISON: Zachary Andrew Turner, the son of murder victim Andrew
Bagby and his accused killer Shirley Turner, was born on July 18th 2002, eight
months after the young doctor's murder. One of the first to meet Zachary was
Shirley's eldest son, T.J.
(Photo of Zachary Turner; wedding dance; photo of Shirley and Zachary; photo
of Shears and Zachary)
Mr. SHEARS: You could see in his eyes that he was full of life.
(Photos of Zachary)
MORRISON: How'd you feel about having a much younger brother come
(Photos of Zachary, Shirley and Sears)
Mr. SHEARS: I thought it was great. I had two sisters already, so a brother
...because now I'd have somebody that I can teach about hockey and
share guy things with.
(Shears and Zachary; photo of Shears and Zachary)
MORRISON: And tell me about your mum with Zachary. Was it a tight bond?
Mr. SHEARS: It seemed like it to me, yeah.
She always spent time with him, and seemed to me like she was
taking care of him.
(Photos of Shirley and Zachary)
MORRISON: Still grieving over the loss of their only son, David
and Kate Bagby had forsaken their lives in California and moved to
Newfoundland, not just to make sure justice was being served, but also to be
with their new grandson.
(Kate; David; Newfoundland; Supreme Court building; photo of Zachary)
KATHERINE: There's this wonderful feeling, `I'm going to see part of Andrew.'
MORRISON: But they'd have to wait almost a month. If Shirley
Turner had her way, they wouldn't have met Zachary at all, claiming she didn't
(Photos of Zachary)
Mr. BAGBY: We first got to see him personally in family court.
We had negotiated a one-hour-a-week visitation in family court
with a supervisor, and we had to be searched.
Mr. BAGBY: She told the court she was afraid we would harm the baby. And we
would have agreed to anything. We would've done handstands and cartwheels to
get in there, if that's what she demanded.
Mr. SHEARS: I thought they were great with him. I didn't have
any problem at all with them spending time with him, unlike my mother,
(Photos of David and Kate with Zachary)
MORRISON: What do you mean?
Mr. SHEARS: I guess I just thought, well, they're kind of accusing her of
murder. It would be kind of upsetting, I guess, to let your son spend time
MORRISON: Must have seemed like the enemy was in the camp.
Mr. SHEARS: Yeah, I guess it did at the time, but I still didn't have
anything against them.
MORRISON: How difficult must it have been to ingratiate
themselves with their son's suspected killer? But that is what the Bagbys
did. However awkward Shirley Turner made it, they were sweet, cooperative.
They treated her with kid gloves.
(Photo of Kate, Zachary and Shirley; photo of David, Zachary and Shirley;
photo of Shirley and Zachary; photos of Zachary with Shirley and Kate)
Mr. BAGBY: Our usual policy was just to let her go. I mean, we would never
disagree with her or fight with her about anything unless there was real
substance to it. And then we'd do it through the lawyers.
KATE: And that upset her.
Mr. BAGBY: Yeah.
MORRISON: But then things changed. In November 2002, when
Zachary was four months old, a Canadian judge ruled that a properly instructed
jury would likely find Shirley Turner guilty and ordered her incarceration
while awaiting a decision from justice officials to surrender her to the
United States. The Bagbys couldn't have been happier, particularly since
Shirley asked them to take custody of Zachary while she was gone.
(Supreme Court building; Shirley being escorted from court; photos of Kate and
KATE: Ah, it was wonderful. He was such a good baby.
Just like Andrew, you know, happy. And Turner had said he was a
(Photos of Zachary)
MORRISON: But there were some caveats. For one thing, Shirley
required the Bagbys to bring Zachary to visit her once a week in jail. In the
tribute documentary their son's best friend Kurt Kuenne was making to someday
give Zachary, the Bagbys' friends recount how difficult it was for David and
Kate to keep up their end of that bargain.
(Driving through rainy street; correctional facility sign; Andrew; Kurt
driving; people talking)
Unidentified Woman #8: They would drive two hours to the jail
where Shirley was.
Unidentified Woman #9: And in the winter...
Unidentified Man #20: The weather here is terrible.
Woman #9: ...to make that journey was awful. Only Kate and David
would have done it, really, I think.
(Driving on rainy and snowy roads)
MORRISON: Perhaps the most irksome part of the deal with Shirley
was that they'd have to accept her daily phone calls. They recorded them.
(David and Kate; photo of Andrew by tape being put into recording device;
fingers pressing "record")
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) Hello?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Hi.
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) Yeah, hi.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Are you babysitting?
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) Just got up. He's a little bleary eyed, but
here you go, boss.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) (Unintelligible) Hi, sweetheart. Zachary,
how's our baby today? Oh, my. Are you having a good day with grandmom and
granddad? Zachary, I love you, baby. Mommy loves you. Mommy misses you.
MORRISON: Was she taunting them, they wondered? Or was this her
way of demanding that they suspend their critical faculties and declare their
belief in her innocence?
(Shirley and Andrew)
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) I don't know what to give Zachary. Some of
those frames even at the dollar stores will say--there'll be little sayings on
KATE: (Audio recording) Right, right.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) ...if you want to say `Mommy and Daddy' on a
frame and stick a picture of me and Andrew in it, I don't know.
KATE: (Audio recording) Right. Right, right.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Or what about the one of me and Andrew? Did
you have anywhere to put that, or that...
KATE: (Audio recording) Not yet.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Not yet. Do you feel all right about putting
KATE: (Audio recording) Not quite yet.
MORRISON: Safe and warm inside the Bagby house, as the gales of a
Newfoundland winter raged outside, the inevitable happened. The bond between
Zachary and his grandparents grew and grew, and Shirley noticed, even from
(Photos of David, Kate and Zachary)
KATE: (Audio recording) I think it was one time we were on the phone or
KATE: (Audio recording) Yeah, the baby cried, and I said, `Oh, there's my
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Yeah, `Oh, my baby.'
KATE: (Audio recording) Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I can watch that for sure. It's
not a problem.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) That you aren't trying to take my place.
MORRISON: Despite it all, the Bagbys were thrilled to be living
with Zachary. But two months later, that would change, after Shirley appealed
again to be released on bail. The Bagbys attended the hearing, of course, and
could not quite believe their ears when they heard the judge's ruling. "There
is no indication of a psychological disorder that would give concern about
potential harm to the public generally as her crime, while violent, was
specific in nature." Specific in nature? For the Bagbys, shock might have
been too tame a word.
(Photo of David and Zachary; photo of Kate and Zachary; Shirley being escorted
from court; court documents; court exterior; court documents; Kate and David)
KATE: I'd sat in the back of the room while Judge Green said to her, `I'm so
sorry, Dr. Turner, your life is on hold, and I know the law is slow.' And I
wanted to scream, `My son's life is on hold forever, and you have the audacity
to apologize to this accused murderer?' But of course I didn't. I sat there
and bit my lip and cried.
MORRISON: What was it like to hear that she was going to get out of prison?
Mr. BAGBY: Oh, this ranks right up there.
MORRISON: And now that she was freed, Shirley would once again
get custody of Zachary.
(Photo of Shirley and Zachary)
Mr. BAGBY: We had to take him down the stairs and give him to
Shirley's friend, who happened to have a car seat. We had to pack up Zachary
and send him off.
(David and Kate with bags)
Mr. BAGBY: We just climbed right back upstairs and went to bed and melted
MORRISON: Even more, the Bagbys' gloom was mixed with worry.
Mr. BAGBY: By this time we're pretty damn sure she's complete
wacko, nut case, dangerous.
(Photo of Shirley with Zachary)
MORRISON: What did you think that she would do, kill you?
KATE: No, not us.
Mr. BAGBY: We fret and worried and everything. What if she is backed in a
corner? If it looks like she's likely to go back, how is she going to behave?
I lay in--laid there in bed a couple of times and thought, If I just kill her,
Zachary will be safe. There won't be any question about whether she can hurt
MORRISON: Coming up, as David Bagby wrestles with these terrible
thoughts, his wife sees something that rocks her to the core.
(David; Kate and Zachary; Shirley and Zachary)
KATE: I knew exactly what my son looked at before he died.
MORRISON: When DATELINE continues.
MORRISON: Winter is capricious in Newfoundland; repeatedly,
spring is briefly offered and then taken back again. Shirley Turner, awaiting
extradition for murder, was out of prison on bail. Six-month-old Zachary was
returned to her. A court mandate allowed David and Kate Bagby to spend time
with their grandson, babysitting, even sharing in joint activities with
Shirley. They watched the legal proceedings grind, infuriating and slow.
They did their best to keep their dark feelings about their son's accused
murderer in check. They held their breath.
(Canadian flags; Newfoundland; lake and coast; man in coat; photos of Shirley
and Zachary; Kate, David and Zachary; Shirley, Kate and Zachary; Supreme Court
building; photos of David, Kate, Zachary and Shirley)
Mr. BAGBY: Dealing with Turner was like, I don't know, walking around with
a--with a hand grenade in the kitchen with the pin already pulled.
KATE: You were always afraid that she was going to find something.
Mr. BAGBY: What are you going to say that will...
KATE: I mean, she...
Mr. BAGBY: ...that will trigger her.
MORRISON: And find something she did, going so far as telling
them that they had some anger issues which needed to be addressed by a
(Photo of Shirley; photo of Kate and David)
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) There has been, I guess, a lot of
uncomfortable feeling on both our parts. I would really like for you and Kate
to reconsider getting some help with that.
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) (Unintelligible)
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) I was really upset when you took him today,
because I feel like I did the day you saw him at Unified Family Court. I
don't know if he's OK with you.
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) Look, we will do what is best for Zachary. We
will not hurt Zachary, period. Do you understand?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) I know you don't want to, you don't intend to,
but if we don't get help, we don't know if we're doing what's best.
Mr. BAGBY: (Audio recording) You don't like this answer, but I'm going to
give it to you again. The reason we go through the lawyers is so that we
don't have these meltdowns and emotional scenes. Understood?
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Then I can't consent to more time right now,
feeling this way.
MORRISON: There might have been a particular reason for this.
Now that Zachary was starting to walk, he was free to make a beeline to
whomever he wanted.
(Shirley, Kate, David and Zachary)
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) I do have a complaint, finally.
KATE: (Audio recording) Oh.
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) He is too happy, Kathleen.
KATE: (Audio recording) OK.
MORRISON: In July 2003, a year and eight months after their son's
murder, Andrew's friend, filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, who'd been making the
documentary film for Zachary about the father he'd never know, arrived in
Newfoundland to meet the now 11-month-old little boy.
(Trailer park; parking lot; water; Kurt on boat; excerpts from "Dear Zachary";
houses seen through rainy window; Kate and Zachary)
Mr. KUENNE: (Kate holding Zachary) Hello, bud. Hello.
Unidentified Woman #10: (Kate holding Zachary) Zachary.
Mr. KUENNE: (Greeting Zachary) Hello.
KATE: (Zachary hugging Kate) This is your Uncle Kurt.
Woman #10: (Zachary hugging Kate) Aw.
Mr. KUENNE: I think he was a little scared of me when I first came up. I
was like, `Hi, buddy.' He was like, `Eh, mm.' And he'd be like...(turns
KATE: (To Zachary) Kurt knew your daddy when he was a little boy.
Mr. KUENNE: He warmed up to me as the--as the week wore on,
certainly. He was--that was fun.
(Kurt, David, Kate and Zachary)
MORRISON: But the Bagbys were especially anxious. The next
hearing in the extradition process was set for September, at which time they
hoped Shirley Turner would be returned to the US to face a murder trial.
(Kate and Zachary; judge in court; Shirley being escorted from court)
MORRISON: How were his parents coping?
Mr. KUENNE: I don't know. I think they just poured all of their love and
attention into Zachary, basically.
MORRISON: A week after Kurt's visit, Zachary turned one. Shirley
held his birthday party at McDonald's. Home video captured what looked like a
typical domestic scene, but beneath these happy images lies a darker truth.
Here the grandparents are making nice with the woman they believe killed their
son. Kate says everything seemed to be going smoothly, until here. Shirley
put Zachary on her lap to open presents, and he resists.
(Shirley and Zachary at birthday party; birthday party)
KATE: He didn't want to open presents, you know, he wanted to get
down. So he came straight for me. And that's when she said, `He loves you
more than me. Why don't you just take him?'
KATE: And she went over in the corner crying, and I gave him back.
And he was crying, so I went into the ladies room and sat there
for a while.
(Zachary's birthday party)
KATE: Made her very angry. And I saw that night her malignancy. I knew
exactly what my son looked at before he died. She was deranged. I mean, she
was so angry.
Mr. BAGBY: Vicious.
MORRISON: Because Zachary liked you best?
KATHERINE: At that--at that point.
MORRISON: The Bagbys said that Shirley would later apologize for
her reaction. But that didn't erase their unease, or a remarkable feeling
that David began to have.
(Shirley and Zachary at birthday party; David)
Mr. BAGBY: I considered killing her myself, seriously considered it. If I
just kill her, Zachary will be safe. There won't be any question about
whether she can hurt him. I thought if I do that, I go to prison, maybe Kate
can still raise Zachary.
MORRISON: You didn't seriously think of--I mean, you talk about this plan...
Mr. BAGBY: Absolutely. I would have to dream up some reason to go over
there in the middle of the night, to--for me to just appear on her doorstep
with some kind of weapon.
MORRISON: You're not capable of that.
Mr. BAGBY: Turned out I wasn't. I never really convinced myself that she
could--that she would hurt Zachary. Now, she sucked us in here, too. She
helped convince me that she would not hurt Zachary.
MORRISON: Shirley, meanwhile, seemed to be preparing for her
extradition, and perhaps she was looking for a way to exclude the Bagbys from
Zachary's life, even talking to her eldest son and his girlfriend about it.
(Photo of Shirley; Zachary; photo of Shears and Zachary)
Mr. SHEARS: There was a conversation one time she had with me and Erica, in
regards to if something ever happened to her and she had to go to jail or
anything like that, would we take care of Zachary? We were kind of like,
`Well, we're not the best ones to be taking care of a child.' Just from that
conversation, you could kind of get the sense that she didn't want Zachary
going with the Bagbys at all.
MORRISON: And for the Bagbys, Shirley issued what sounded somehow
like a warning.
(Photo of Shirley, Kate and Zachary; photo of Shirley, David and Zachary;
photo of Zachary)
Ms. TURNER: (Audio recording) Well, I just want your word that I'm going to
know where he's at, like any babysitter, you know, if you're going to take him
anywhere, just say, `Shirley, we're going to run out and do this. Is it OK?'
Because I know you would be worried if we disappeared for a couple of days or
MORRISON: Was she planning something? A few weeks after
Zachary's birthday party, the Bagbys and Shirley took the toddler swimming, an
activity he usually enjoyed. Kate said Shirley insisted on keeping Zachary in
the deep pool, which frustrated him because he couldn't move on his own. It
apparently frustrated Shirley, too.
(Photo of Shirley; Shirley, Zachary and David; photos of Shirley and Zachary)
KATE: And so she said, `Oh, take him and get him dressed,' to me.
So I took him in and got him dressed.
(Photo of Kate, Zachary and Shirley)
MORRISON: Zachary fell asleep in his car seat. Then, upon
dropping Shirley and their grandboy off at her son T.J.'s home...
(Photo of Zachary sleeping in car seat; streets passing)
KATE: She said, `Wake up, Zachary and say goodbye to your grandparents.'
And that was the last we saw of him.
(Photo of Zachary sleeping in car seat)
Mr. SHEARS: When we woke up in the morning, realized they weren't there.
Kind of panic sets in, I guess, and that's when it all hit the fan, I guess.
MORRISON: Coming up, a knock at the door, and then the news.
(Photos of house; David)
Mr. BAGBY: I lost it. We both did.
MORRISON: When The Best Man continues.
MORRISON: It was almost two years after Andrew Bagby's murder
when Shirley Turner's eldest son T.J. drove home to his girlfriend after an
especially long work day and dropped himself in front of the television.
Shirley and Zachary, then 13 months old, had been staying with the couple.
Around 11:30 PM Shirley came downstairs, asking to borrow T.J.'s car.
(Newfoundland; Shears driving; photo of Shirley and Zachary; water at night;
cars on street at night)
Mr. SHEARS: She said Zachary was being fussy and that just driving him
around would calm him down. I was like, `Oh, OK, yeah.' So I gave her the
MORRISON: Do you find yourself going back and playing that back in your mind?
Mr. SHEARS: Mm, yeah. That one comes back a lot. Zachary didn't seem like
he was fussy at all. Why would she say that if he wasn't?
MORRISON: The sea at midnight was endless black. The night was
quiet. T.J. and his girlfriend went to bed.
(Sea at night; water lapping at rocks)
MORRISON: It was August 2003, the wee hours of the morning by the ocean.
Someone found a car that didn't belong. A security guard reported hearing a
Mr. SHEARS: When we woke up in the morning, realized they weren't there,
kind of panic sets in, I guess. And that's when it all hit the fan, I guess.
Mr. BAGBY: We were out shopping or something. And we came back
to the house and found a card from a police officer that we knew.
Mr. BAGBY: Constable Walsh asking to call him. And that was midafternoon.
So we called, and he came over and told us that Zachary and Shirley were
MORRISON: You're in turmoil at that point.
Mr. BAGBY: Oh, yeah. We're churning. It's pretty easy to analyze what the
options are. Either she's grabbed Zachary and taken off and she's trying to
escape, and she has a snowball's chance in hell of getting away with that
because it's hard to get off Newfoundland.
MORRISON: But was that what you assumed had happened?
Mr. BAGBY: That's one of the options, and that's the one we hoped for.
MORRISON: A couple of hours later, there was another knock at the
(Sea at night; David)
Mr. BAGBY: Told us what happened. They told us that they'd found the body
of a woman and a baby on the beach, and I lost it again. I was just gone.
I--we both did. Kate went to the floor, and I kicked the door and--oh, we
just--just like with Andrew, there's nothing you can do. You can
just--there's nothing. They hadn't been identified, but it's obvious who they
MORRISON: He was right. Shirley Turner had walked out to the end
of a pier with tiny Zachary strapped to her body with a sweater, then jumped
into the ocean. An autopsy report would show that an anti-anxiety drug
prescribed by the very psychiatrist who put up Shirley's bail money had been
mixed into Zachary's formula. At least he might have asleep when she went in
the water. The Bagbys went to the morgue to identify their bodies.
(Sea at night; photo of Shirley and Zachary; autopsy report; photo of man;
photo of Shirley and Zachary; Zachary sleeping; David and Kate)
Mr. BAGBY: Kate just quit. She just dropped to the floor and laid down, and
I went down after her. And I don't know, I just lay on top of her and we
cried and cried and...
MORRISON: T.J. opened the door to police, too, and heard the
news about his mother and baby brother, and was slammed with instant blowback.
All this time, he'd believed her.
(Shears; photo of Shirley, Zachary and Shears; Shears walking)
Mr. SHEARS: Suddenly everything rushes into you, and you realize that she
did murder Andrew. It was all incorrect from the beginning, that all this
innocence and everything she's told you was a lie. And now it's just
unforgivable and that's just the way it's going to be for the rest of my life.
KATE: You get a different kind of relationship with God after this kind of
thing, because up until Andrew was murdered, I was a Pollyanna.
I thought life was wonderful.
(Photos of young Kate)
KATE: I had a great childhood. I had lovely family.
I had a job I loved. I had a husband I loved. I had a son I used
to think--it was easy to thank God.
(Photo of young Kate; photo of Kate and David; photo of Kate and Andrew)
KATE: And then suddenly you're in the pits, and then you have to learn that
God is in the pits with you.
MORRISON: Two weeks after Zachary's murder, the press covered a
conference the Bagbys called.
(David and Kate at press conference)
Mr. BAGBY: (Press conference) We believe that the legal system helped her to
kill our grandson.
MORRISON: Charging the child protection authorities dropped the
ball, and that a disastrous bail system allowed a probable first-degree
murderer to walk the streets.
(Zachary; court document; Shirley and Andrew)
Mr. BAGBY: Shirley killed Andrew. The legal system helped her kill Zachary.
They might as well have sent a taxi to her to help take him out and drown him.
We couldn't let the authorities who let this happen get away with it.
(Talking in group) This is not about money.
Unidentified Man #21: (Talking in group) I know.
Mr. BAGBY: (Talking in group) This is about making public exactly what
happened and then getting laws changed.
MORRISON: The Bagbys' public outrage had some results. In 2006
the press was there again to cover the issuance of a report on the death of
(Newspaper article; David on TV show being interviewed; Confederation
building; David opening Turner report)
Unidentified Reporter: (Newscast) The government has received a scathing
report that concluded the child protection system failed Zachary Turner.
Unidentified Man #22: We will develop policy specific to children
whose parents are charged with a violent crime.
(Newspaper rack; photo of Shirley and Zachary)
Mr. BAGBY: (Press conference) I am going to continue to scream long and loud
MORRISON: The Bagbys have continued a campaign for the overhaul
of the bail system. Now armed with a powerful tool, "Dear Zachary: A Letter
to a Son about his Father," the tribute film Kurt Kuenne started making, first
in honor of his beloved friend Andrew, and then for Andrew's son, Zachary.
But then it became something else.
(David speaking to reporters; Kate speaking to reporters; David on radio show;
"Dear Zachary" poster; Kurt editing video; photo of Andrew; photo of Zachary;
Kurt, David and Kate)
Mr. KUENNE: I almost gave up making this film when you were
killed. I couldn't see the point anymore. But something kept me going, and
then one day I realized what it was. This film was no longer a letter to you,
it was now a letter to someone else.
(Zachary; David, Kate and Zachary)
Unidentified Man #23: Well, everybody always says, well, what
would be the difference if one person weren't alive?
(Person writing "Dear Kate & David")
HEATHER: You are the most amazing, strongest people I've ever
(Photos of David and Kate)
Unidentified Man #24: Two I have ever known.
Woman #4: And I love them very much.
Unidentified Man #25: I love them very much.
Unidentified Woman #11: I love them very much.
Man #14: I admire you and respect you so much for two things.
One for such a wonderful young man that you raised.
Woman #11: Doesn't matter what happened. They raised a wonderful
Unidentified Man #26: Thanks for bringing such a wonderful person
into the world...
Unidentified Woman #12: We won't forget their son.
Man #26: ...and for having the strength to make it through
something like this.
(Andrew dancing; Kate and David)
Unidentified Man #27: With what you've been through, to still be
carrying on, still to hold your heads up and keep going and pushing forward is
(Kate and David; photo of David and Kate)
Unidentified Woman #13: I think God put some people down on Earth
just to be examples for the rest of us.
(Kate and David; photo of David and Kate)
Mr. A. BAGBY: (Wedding video) We're brothers, and I love you. And I know
you love me, and--yeah. I kind of need to move on from that because, like I
said, I'm a Bagby male. We don't--we don't gush very much.
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