True crime enthusiasts like me will know the name Andrew Bagby from a 2008 documentary called Dear Zachary. Although I loved the film, I felt like not enough time was spent discussing the harrowing case of Andrew’s murder.
This is not a criticism of Kurt Kuenne’s film, which set out to detail the short but wonderful life of his best friend, something that was certainly achieved. But as a true crime buff, I wanted a more thorough recount of the case, which is why I’m covering Andrew’s murder on my blog.
Born on the 25th September 1973 to parents Kathleen and David Bagby, Andrew was a medical student undertaking his third year residency at Memorial Hospital. In early 1999, he began dating Shirley Turner, a fellow medical student a few years his senior.
Friends of Andrew stated that they felt Shirley wasn’t at all his type, and that she was often heard making inappropriate and sometimes overtly sexual comments. His friends kept their feelings to themselves however, as Andrew hadn’t dated since his previous relationship, in which an engagement had ended and left him heartbroken.
In 2000, Andrew graduated and moved to Syracuse, New York to undertake a surgical residency. At the same time, Shirley moved to Iowa. The couple maintained a long distance relationship, with Shirley visiting Andrew in New York several times, and Andrew making the trip to Iowa once.
It quickly became clear that surgery wasn’t for Andrew, and in 2001, he took a residency at a family practice in Pennsylvania. He couldn’t have been happier.
In October that year, Shirley bought a Phoenix Arms HP22 gun, .22 ammunition, and began taking firearms lessons. Throughout this period, Shirley was showing obsessive behaviour towards Andrew, incessantly calling him and hurling abuse down the phone. She visited him in Latrobe, days after her final shooting lesson, and the couple argued extensively over Andrew’s relationship with a new female friend.
Finally, enough was enough. On November 3rd, 2001, Andrew ended things with Shirley and put her on a plan back to Iowa. Their relationship was over.
The following day, Shirley called Andrew several times. She then made the 16 hour drive from her home to Latrobe, her gun sat in the passenger seat of her car. Early in the morning of November 5th, Andrew opened his door to find a distressed Shirley on his porch. He managed to calm her with the promise of meeting her after work to discuss things.
When he arrived at work that day, Andrew was visibly shaken and confided in his friend about the episode that morning. His friend begged him not to meet Shirley alone, but Andrew dismissed this, agreeing to visit his colleague after he had met with his ex.
Andrew never made it.
On November 6th, 2001, Andrew Bagby’s body was found near his car in a parking lot. He had been shot five times, once in the face, once in the chest, once in the back of the head, and twice in the buttocks. The bullets used to kill Andrew were found to be CCI .22 calibre.
Police in Pennsylvania immediately contacted Shirley Turner. She told the authorities that she had been in bed, sick, all day on the 5th of November, despite evidence that she had made calls from Latrobe, used Andrew’s house phone to call in sick and accessed a number of her personal accounts from his computer. By the time a warrant was issued for her arrest, Turner had fled to Canada.
The case of Andrew’s murder took a turn in December when Shirley announced that she was pregnant with his child. In 2002, she gave birth to a healthy boy named Zachary Andrew Turner.
What followed Zachary’s birth was years of custody battles, prison visits, heartbreak and frustration, the pressure of which was felt entirely by Kate and David Bagby. They fought so hard to keep their grandson, even enduring countless visits and telephone calls with the woman who had murdered their only son.
In my opinion, the Bagbys are one of the strongest, bravest couples on the planet. They gave up everything to save the last little piece of their child.
That’s all I want to say about Zachary, and the heartbreaking circumstances in which he came to be in this world. There are plenty of websites that will help you find out more about this baby boy, but I wanted to focus on Andrew.
From all my research, it seems that Turner spent under two months in jail for Andrew’s murder while awaiting trial, before a judge stated she was ‘not a danger to the public generally’ and granted her bail. Just eight months after she was released, Turned drugged her son, strapped him to her stomach and jumped into the sea, killing them both.
I’d love to know if you’re familiar with this case and what your thoughts are. Should Turner have been kept in jail? Should she, at the very least, have been denied custody of her son?