Documentary: Dear Zachary



Dear Zachary is a beautiful documentary that everyone should watch. I know I say that a lot, but I really mean it. This is the best documentary I have ever seen and I have never experienced emotions like I did when I watched this.

A letter has been written to Zachary about the story of his amazing father, Andrew Bagby. Andrew was everyone’s best friend, best man and role model. He was amazing, warm hearted and placed trust in most people he met. He’s the type of person that everyone wants in their life. While studying medicine in Newfoundland, Canada, Andrew started a relationship with Shirley Turner. Shirley, a mother of two and two time divorcee never made a good impression on Andrew’s friends and they questioned his relationship with her.

When Andrew and Shirley broke up, he moved to start his residency in a family practice in Pennsylvania and Shirley moved to Iowa. Shirley became possessive and drove over 1,000 miles to see Andrew to try to get back together with him. Sometime between Shirley visiting Pennsylvania and her return to Iowa, Andrew had been shot five times and was found dead.

Shirley was suspected of murder and she fled back to Canada. It also turned out that she was pregnant with Andrew’s child. Once their child was born, Zachary stayed with Andrew’s parents, David and Kathleen while Shirley’s trials continued. When Shirley was placed in jail, Andrew’s parents were rewarded custody of Zachary.

While Shirley was in jail she actively tried to get out and was eventually let out because she was viewed as not being a threat to society. While out on bail, Shirley was also awarded custody of Zachary. Issues between Shirley and David and Kathleen continued, but Andrew’s parents were nothing but supportive and were willing to do whatever it took to make sure Zachary lived a long and happy life.

That all ended when on August 18, 2003 when Shirley jumped into the Atlantic Ocean with 13-month-old Zachary in a murder-suicide.

The unique part of this documentary is that the footage had started being filmed right after Andrew was killed and the murder of Zachary had happened during the compilation. The other unique side of this is the rare emotion that you experience from everyone interviewed; whether it be Andrew’s parents, his friends, family over in England and even his best friend, the filmmaker, Kurt Kuenne.

The way the story is told, from so many different prospective you would think it would be completely unorganized and hard to follow. I found myself glued to the television, wanting to know exactly what happened next. When you start the film, you already have a sense that Andrew was murdered, but when you find out that Zachary was also murdered your heart drops, your breathing struggles and your eyes swell up with tears. It’s tragic. It’s something no one should ever have to experience.

Andrew’s parents drew out the most emotion because their reactions were not edited. You heard exactly what they experienced and how they feel. You feel for these people and you pray that their lives get better. You see their struggle.

I wish I could tell you that there’s a happy ending at the end of this story, but there isn’t. A mother and father lost their only son and only grandchild to a sick woman who was proven to be safe when she wasn’t. They lost their family to a woman who should have been locked up for the rest of her life. They lost their family tragically.

I give this documentary 5 out of 5 stars. I kid you not when I say that I cried for half an hour after the movie had ended. I cried because I felt a sadness I had never felt before, and one I pray to God I never have to experience on my own. Check out this documentary on Netflix; you definitely will not regret it.

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