2008 CIFF: Dear Zachary – David & Kate Bagby’s path to justice for the death in their family

I saw many Calgarians cried and were deeply touched after watching the documentary “Dear Zachary” last night. (Read and hear my interview with the documentary filmmaker Kurt Kuenne. Note: You can get in touch with Kurt via his contact info on his page. He reads and appreciates your messages.) And it was my honour to interview David & Kate Bagby after the screening and Q&As. Here is the video. (2015 May update: I’ve fixed the link to used an updated YouTube location.)

Note: If you wish, you can try to reach the filmmaker Kurt Kuenne via the contact info in his website.

P.S. Justice and legal system is a complex and technical subject area that is beyond the limited scope and time that I can spend in crafting this blog entry. Suffice to say that while I think Canada’s legal system does a good job, but from time to time we do have cases of injustice where innocent Canadians were put into jails for a long time or even labeled as child killers.

July 15, 2012 update: I should have updated this and link it here sooner. Please read this 2011 entry “Canada Bail Reform because of documentary “Dear Zachary”” for an update.

53 Responses to 2008 CIFF: Dear Zachary – David & Kate Bagby’s path to justice for the death in their family

  1. Yeh you are right that judiciary process or legal action against criminal is a long-term process to punish such malicious criminals!

  2. mary lou best garland says:

    my heart sobs after watching a letter to zachery
    what a emotionl picture & the heartache of the bagbys
    my heart goes out to you guys

  3. diane roller says:

    I just finished watching your documentary Kurt and I cant tell you what a wonderful and truly sad story. The Bagby Family and all of the people who spoke so passionately about Andrew I wished that I had known him. What you have done is very beautiful. My heart goes out to all of those that the loss of Andrew and Zachary affected. God Bless You all.

  4. Ellen Shaw says:

    Kate and David,

    I could hardly watch the movie through my tears. My heart is torn for you all.

    Ellen Shaw
    Norman, Oklahoma

  5. kempton says:

    @mary lou best garland

    @diane roller

    Thanks for your comments. It is a terribly sad story and nightmare that Bagbys and Kurt and their families and friends had to live through.

    I hope you had also taken the chance to send Kurt and the Bagbys a message to tell them how you feel.

    Thanks again for leaving your comments.

  6. kempton says:

    @Ellen Shaw

    Thanks for your comments.

    P.S. I edited your comment slightly for language.

  7. Samantha Lindboe says:

    I watched the documentary tonight. I sobbed my eyes out. I can’t imagine what kind of horrible person would do what that woman did, first to their child then to their grandchild.
    I will keep Kate and David in my prayers and all of their friends and family.

  8. John H says:

    I cry, how can you not.
    God bless you kate and david.

  9. kempton says:

    @Samantha Lindboe

    @John H

    Thanks for your comments. I cried hard as well.

    I am usually quite “professional” when I interview people, but I just truly felt the pain Kate and David (and also Kurt) when they watch and re-watch the documentary again and again at each film festival and screening.

    • Becky says:

      There’s no way you can’t cry. I did write to kurt and david and kate. Those people are truely saints. Thank you for the site and for all you do for that family. God Bless

  10. Theresa says:

    I just watched this last night and I was unable to sleep until writing a letter in support of bail reform in Canada even though I live outside Chicago Illinois. Please let me stress to all who read this and those previously that we write letters until these ridiculous law is changed!!!!
    Bless you all.

  11. kempton says:

    @Theresa

    Thanks for your comments. I hope you’ve sent Kurt (the filmmaker) and may be even the Bagbys a message directly to let them know how they feel.

  12. Judy Abernathy says:

    I watched this documentary last night, and my heart broke for the Bagby’s. I found myself weeping uncontrollably. To think that such a STUPID LAW exists is just astounding and incomprehensible. If we cause enough stink, then perhaps the Canadian goverment with do something. I pray God they do!! This should never have happened. At a time when David & Kate should be having fun with their son and grandson, they are sentenced to a life of silence without them. But, their voices with echo far over this issue, and they will be victorious in their quest to have this bill admended!

  13. kempton says:

    @Judy

    Thanks for sharing your comments.

  14. Patty Howard says:

    I watched last night. I hadn’t heard of this terribly sad story and hoped that at least at the end of the 2 hours, Kate and David would finally get their Zachary. My jaw dropped when it was revealed that that monster had murdered that sweet innocent baby, who was nearly a clone of his father. I just kept saying, no, no, he’s not dead. I have never been so moved by any story, I only wish it was Fiction. It’s too horrible to be True. God Bless the Bagby’s. If they can find purpose in life, then we all can.
    Thank you,
    Patty Howard
    Indiana

  15. Christina says:

    Such a sad story.I watched it last night and the whole time i was think what a beautiful little baby boy and he looks just like his father.Im so sorry that this has happend and i hope that this touches everyone the way it has touched my heart.I woke up this morning and i couldnt stop thinking about how terribley sad this and unfortunate this is..Now Zachary and his father are together in Heaven..I pray for you both..and thank you for this documentary

  16. samuel randrup says:

    dear kate and david….it saddens me that a weak system again has failed a good family..that the evil of money kept a murderer from justice to kill again…money has destroyed many lives when used in an evil way…the fact that canada allowed such brutality and allowed this killer to go free…acting like murder is not a crime???INSANE….then they award this devil with the baby???…is sick!!!my family …my grandparents came to canada and became canadian citizens from france…..then they came to America to open as many opportunities as possible for their children..Thank God……i know America is not perfect…but we take good action and give deserved punishment to murderers most the time!!I truly believe this crazy woman if sent to America…would have been locked away a long long time!!!!i am shocked at how the Canadian government failed!!!! they failed you and your son and grandson…they will answer to God for it….how could they award evil and allow freedom to this killer??all for money i imagine??that is what i believe..they put a price on murder!!!..God help them!!!..May God be with you always sweet folks!!!… know you are not alone..many people suffer with you!!!may these corrupt dispicable law makers be ashamed of this forever!how dare they not protect an innocent child from a devil!!!they made the laws and then did not enforce them….therefore they serve no purpose…they protect noone…especially the victims……they are as much to blame…..as that evil woman is!!!!My deepest regards…your friend…Samuel Randrup

  17. janet biscotti says:

    I watched Dear Zachery last night, recorded it and had my daughter ,15 watch it today. She and I cried. Kate and David are such strong people. I wish them all the best. May i make a suggestion to raise money if they need to for their cause? I think they should sell copies Andrew’s photos. I would buy one for sure.

    They are in my thoughts and prayers. NO one should lose a child and certainly not a grand child. Give them our love. And I will write a letter in regard to the ‘Bail” rule. I agree no murder suspect should be out on bail.Also, where was our government in this? WHy didn’t they push to have her sent back to the states for trail. That to me is outrages. She was the only suspect and they had so much eveidence.
    POLITICS! I am so angry. I can only imagine how the Bagbys feel.

  18. kempton says:

    @Patty Howard

    Thank you for sharing your comments. What the Bagbys had gone through, no one else should have to go through again. I admire them so much in trying hard to lead to change in the related law to make it right.

    I am a documentary film maker and I too couldn’t believe what happened at the end. I truly admire the filmmaker Kurt Kuenne (also Andrew’s long time friend) in making and finishing the film, it must be so hard for Kurt.

    @Christina

    Thanks for your comments. Feel free to send an email the filmmaker Kurt Kuenne, I am sure Kurt appreciates your comments and supports.

    @samuel randrup

    Thanks for your comments. I agree, in hindsight, the Canadian criminal justice system failed the Bagbys, and the system should be improved to make sure no other families have to go through what the Bagbys and their friends had to go through.

    In all fairness, fairness of a judicial system is a complex matter and I just hope people learned from the report and make it better.

    @janet biscotti

    Thanks for your comments. It is important to let politicians know what we think.

    With respect for money for their cause, you and others may wish to contact Kurt the filmmaker,
    http://www.dearzachary.com/filmmaker/

  19. Melissa says:

    Dear Zachary is a beautiful, bittersweet, heart-breaking, and emotional movie. I was really taken back by the love Kurt has for his dear friend, Andrew, Andrew’s son, Zachary and for Kate & David. And even though nothing can possibly bring the victims back to the loving arms of their family and friends, that kindness and love displayed by Kurt, Kate & David IS seen and felt by Andrew & Zachary. It is. How could it not be? Kurt- you did a WORLD of work on this documentary, you traveled all over the world, and interviewed many, many people. I don’t know you, but thank you. It’s a relief to know good people are out there.

  20. kempton says:

    @Melissa

    I totally agree with you on what you wrote about Kurt. I hope you had sent the message to Kurt as well.

    I’ve contacted Kurt and he told me he has received hundreds of emails and is trying his best to reply to them all.

  21. Helen Griswold says:

    Dear Mr. Kempton, I was so shaken and touched by the incredible journey (you well illustrated through your film-Dear Zachary) that, I had to find out how to reach you to “thank you” for this heartfelt biography and tribute of The Bagby Family. I didn’t know them but, I believe I do now and I feel honored to have been in their company even though…it was through my television! I cried hard and weepingly loud with pain, disappointment, disbelief, joy and emotions I can’t even describe. It’s unbelieveable what has to happen inorder to get laws passed to keep them from happening again. Andrew, Zachary, friends and other family members are truly blessed to know people like David and Kate!

  22. kempton says:

    @Helen Griswold

    I appreciate very much you leaving your touching comments here.

    A correction I want to make is that the documentary is the result of the work of filmmaker Kurt Kuenne. You may wish to contact Kurt to share with him your kind words.
    http://www.dearzachary.com/filmmaker/

  23. emily says:

    i am horribly sorry after watching letter to zachary i am so disgusted that their are sick people like that in our world the best of wishes tothe family and i will say a prayer for baby zachary god bless

  24. kempton says:

    @emily

    It is unfortunate that there are indeed sick people like that. Thanks for leaving your comment.

  25. Sandy says:

    (PLEASE DON’T PRINT MY LAST NAME) [K: Last name removed from Name as per requested]

    Dear David & Kate,
    I will pray for God to bless the two of you. Not only
    should no parent or grandparent have to ever endure what
    the two of you have, but any human being should never
    have to cope with the living hell that you have lived
    the recent years & will continue to live with. I recorded the program & just watched it, I lived some of the
    pain you have had to endure with you through it. My husband & I have also had our legal sorrow with the system, however, ours ended much happier than that of
    yours. Yes, our system is so broke, here in America too!
    We had to fight for our grandchild, drugs & an abusive step father. We had so much living hell, I
    watched David in the movie, the hate, the rage, the
    hell, the decisions to not take the child & leave
    with her, cutting ALL ties with both of her families,
    we lived that also. I have so much rage, just now, it
    has taken 3 years to start to lay it down. My husband
    & I spent hours crying & praying & always second guessing ourselves, are we doing the right thing for
    her, will God forgive us, God give us a sign,anything,
    are we doing right by her? We prayed that we had the
    best interest of the child in our hearts, her safety
    was our main concern! We prayed that she would not be
    another concrete angel. We lived several years of hitting brick walls with the justice system, & the x-daughter-in-law knew how to work the system everytime. She lied for her husband, she took his side over her own little girl’s word to police. She
    acted like this child was not even her concern! It
    is amazing what length our justice system goes to, to
    keep the “family” together. They don’t spend enough
    time to investigate or care for the welfare of the
    children! Who are these monsters? I ask over & over
    how do they live with themselves & sleep at night &
    look at their faces in the mirror, how can they look
    at their own children & not have real concern to take
    time to use common sense to investigate whether these
    children are safe with the bio parent or are in harms
    way???? I am thankful that I don’t have to answer as
    they will someday. We have ruined ourselves financially, we are facing retirement with nothing to
    retire with, a house payment we will not be able to
    make & utilities we can’t hardly afford to pay with
    the mortgage. We rob Peter to pay Paul monthly, but
    the child was so worth saving. God heard our prayers
    & blessed us, I thank God she is still alive. We have
    a hard road of mental work for her, but she is loved
    & well taken care of, we finally won full custody of
    this child. It wasn’t a win in the legal system, her
    mother screwed up one time too many & got herself backed into a corner she couldn’t lie her way out of,
    that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, it gave us full physical & legal custody of the child.
    That was the “SIGN” we had prayed for so long, God
    spoke & we can live with ourselves for what we fought
    so long & hard for. We lived heartbreak, pain, hate,
    the rage, what a roller coaster!!! I don’t know how
    we done it, we had many obstacles through it all. My
    husband had a heart condition hit him through it, I
    don’t know how he has lived through it all!! He will
    eventually have to have a heart transplant, more than
    likely. He was given only 5 more years to work his
    mechanic job, they wanted him to go on disability, he
    was strong & fights to this day to go to work. We have lived a living hell for several years, we are both broke down, I thank God for the solid marriage
    we have, because it was tested so many times, I felt
    a connection to the two of you, you are one & fought
    together & David is Kate’s rock as we are to one another. Why God sees fit to give heartaches to some
    & easy to others, what kind of sense does that make?
    I intend to ask him one day. I will pray for the two
    of you & your son’s loving family & friends. I too,
    wished that I could have known him, what a fine young
    man & individual he was. Take comfort if comfort is to be found, in the fact that your precious son & your precious little grandson are together in heaven!
    Daddy is taking very good care of his little boy now.
    You have two angels in heaven watching over you both!
    I hope that time will heal your anger & rage along with your pain. Try to envision what the meeting was
    like for both Daddy & son, let that heal your hearts, if possible. It must have been a blaze of
    glory for the two of them!!
    God Bless You Both,
    Sandy in Missouri

  26. kempton says:

    Sandy,

    Thanks for your long comment. As it is a long comment, I didn’t read every word but from the part that I did read, it seems to indicate it is a well meaning comment so I leave it here.

    Regards,
    Kempton

  27. Ashley says:

    i just finished watching letter to zachary…
    i couldnt even imagine having to deal with such extreme heartbreak and pain… kate and david are such stong people… my heart truly goes out to them and to everyone in the film…

  28. Mary says:

    I don’t even know how to express my admiration and sympathy for Kate and David.Andrew seemed like such a wonderful person. I wish I could have known him.
    I am a Grandparent and cant imagine the horror and pain this amazing couple has endured. Its so unjust and makes me sick to witness the incompetence of our legal system. Were supposed to be the most powerful nation in the world,but we cant even protect children.Its a complete disgrace!
    This movie really touched me. I think the filmmaker deserves a huge applaud. I cant think of a better tribute to a friend.Most of us will never experience that level of admiration. I just hope Kate and David can remain strong and wish them peace.

  29. kempton says:

    Mary,

    Kurt did a great job in making the film to remember those that are no longer with us. And try to do something to change things.

  30. wendy says:

    I just watched the devastating documentary last night, my husband and I were deeply affected by the events that happened to Kate and David and their families and friends – they will be in my prayers – I was wondering how they are doing now?

  31. Mathieu says:

    Thank you for helping raise awareness about some potentially (and in this case, actual) fatal systemic flaws, legal and otherwise.

    These grandparents are admirable, as I am sure most of us would have reacted otherwise. It speaks volume to their integrity, and quite simply, their love, that they would endure this and keep on keeping on.

    I too will hold them in my prayers.

  32. Nancy says:

    I write this with tears in eyes after watching Dear Zachary

    tha anger and sadness is overwhelming that this beautiful child and his father were murdered. Damn those that allowed it too happen

  33. kempton says:

    Wendy, Mathieu, & Nancy,

    Thanks for leaving your comments after watching Dear Zachary.

    I hope you’ve taken time to also send Kurt Kuenne, the filmmaker and Andrew’s dear friend an email of support. I think he will appreciate it.

  34. […] you watch the film (there are spoilers), you can check out my interviews with Kurt (audio) and Zachary’s grandparents (video), David & Kathleen Bagby in this site. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Weekly […]

  35. […] have the privilege to interview Kate and David when they visited Calgary in 2008, have a look of my video interview with them. You can also listen to an interview I had with Kurt who made a documentary about the […]

  36. Brian Burnham says:

    Just like all the folks at the end of the movie say,
    you both are loved so much. FYI: you have more kids then you think you do. God bless and stay strong for each other and us. We need more role model’s like the both of you. Your love for each other, Andrew and Zachary makes the world better place. Andrew is looking down with Zachary on his lap saying that’s my mum and dad, your grandmum and grandpa. Your both loved.
    Thank you for your story, it’s in my heart forever.
    Kurt, your the best kind of friend a person could have in their life. Wish I had friends like all of you.
    BCB
    Palm Coast Florida

  37. kempton says:

    Thanks for sharing your comment Brian.

    I agree, Kurt is the best kind of friend a person could hope for in his/her life.

  38. jacqui says:

    I watched the doc on television and cried the pain that David and Kate went through was unbeleivable how could they cope. How strong they must be my heart and love goes out to them. As a grandmother myself I know how much I miss my grandchildren when I don’t see them or chat to them for awhile.
    Keep strong David and Kate we will all pray for you

  39. kempton says:

    jacqui,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as a grandmother.

    I saw how tough it was for David and Kate when they visited Calgary with the documentary.

  40. David Carter says:

    As i sit here crying, while watching your story on dateline. I think its amazing that someone like my self 29 years of age never married no kids could even feel your pain but i can say i truely know what is like to go through events in life that changes who we are emotionaly as humans. my prayers are with you, if you get this note please thank god and while you are please say a prayer for myself….. life is hard…sometimes god has a reason to take the best of the best so we must always remember how the people who we loved would want us to continue…
    thanks for your hearts
    david carter

    [editor note: private email address removed]

  41. anne laney says:

    i saw this story tonight on dateline and i can NOT stop thinking about this family! the pain and love it’s just so much. RIP Andrew and Zachary! you will always be in our prayers!

  42. Linda says:

    It broke my heart to see this documentary……I cannot even imagine the pain and agony that this family went thru (especially the grandparents of Zachry)My heart goes out to all of you…

  43. Nana says:

    First I want to apologies the grammar mistakes, you might find in this note.
    The documentary was shown on Danish television yesterday evening. I watched it with my sister, and she said: ‘I wish, I could write a letter to the Bagby’s or something.’ We talked about, they probably receive or have received a lot of these of these letters. And they might not even see it. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the sad story. The family, which was left after this horrible crime. I can’t believe, that the system could ever think about releasing a woman like Shirley. ‘She isn’t dangerous for her surroundings’ – but she was. She killed in anger the first time, and already at that point, she was dangerous. She deserved to pay for what she had done. Not even considering if she would ever do it again.
    I can’t believe, she could take little Zachary with her, when she left this world. Some says, she might have done it because of love. But if it really was, she should have left him with his grandparents. And what about her other children? She left them. That so much had to happen, before people found out, she was weird and dangerous, is incredible and terrifying.
    I believe in good people, and I know,(without even knowing David and Kate) that they are good people. What they have done for Zachary is amazing. The strength they have shown is indescribable. I wish the Bagby’s a lot of luck and happiness in the future.
    Lots of thoughts from Denmark

  44. kempton says:

    Nana, Thanks for sharing your thoughts from Denmark.

  45. Dominique Smith says:

    I almost have the same situation as what happened in this movie. I just lost a custody court case last year in North Dakota when the mother of my child said, on the stand, that she wanted to kill herself and our daughter. We presented evidence of her numerous suicide attempts. She was in a mental hospital for 3 weeks. She has plead guilty to 3 felonies. Those felonies are selling marijuana, selling cocaine, and bail jumping. She has also plead guilty to domestic violence on me and she plead guilty to shoplifting when my child was a month old. I am appealing to the state supreme court right now. My case will be heard in March. If the court system fails me again I will have to take matters into my own hands so there wont be another tragic story like there was in this movie.

  46. kempton says:

    Dominique,

    Sorry to hear about your case. I hope you don’t have to take matters into your own hands as it will always complicate the matters. And I very much hope it works out for everyone, especially for your child. The child is the most helpless party in this kind of situations.

  47. Josefin(Josephine) says:

    Dear David and Kate, I just saw the documantary. I send my tears and hugs and i also wanna know if there is any website where you can give money for homicide victims, the organisation you guys started? I would like to see more advertising about it. I also hope to follow your fight for justice(to change the stupid law) I admire youre curage. Your grandchild and son must have been so lucky under there time to have such loving parants/grandparants. Also hugs and thanks to kurt, the filmmaker, who took this story up to the light. Greetings from Sweden.

  48. kempton says:

    Hi Josephine,

    Thanks for taking time to leave a comment for David and Kate.

    I don’t know if David, Kate or Kurt read the comments here. The best is probably to contact Kurt, the filmmaker, directly via his contact information.

  49. juliet says:

    Dear Kate and David you to are the most amazing people i have ever heard of. I feel for you every time i see the movie. It saddens me how the justice system failed. So i am writting to tell you that i am doing my year 9 letter to the editor about it and i will Quote some of the things that were in that movie

    My Regards Bless you both
    Juliet Horner

  50. Claudia says:

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bagsby first of all I want to extend my condolences to your family, I can’t tell you how moved I was. When you lost both your boys, I felt as someone in my own family died. It seems ironic that at the same time that I am writing you, a father in North Dakota killed all 3 of his little girls ages 5-11. Bless your efforts, I hope you can embrace the idea of what this atrocity has represented, in other words,your incredible loss may be the catalyst that effects a major change in a flawed system. God bless you and your family, Claudia

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