Canada · Female Killers

Toddler drugged, strapped to mother’s chest before she jumps into ocean

August 18, 2003
Conception Bay South, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Zachary Turner (1) is drugged by his mother and strapped to her chest before she jumps into the Atlantic Ocean

Zachary’s mother, Shirley Jane Turner, was a suspect in the murder of Zachary’s father, Andrew David Bagby, at the time of the murder-suicide. Bagby had been shot five times in the face, chest, back of the head, and buttocks shortly after ending his relationship with Turner, citing her jealous and possessive tendencies as his reason for the breakup. Some circumstantial evidence linking her to the crime was found, including records that she checked her eBay and Hotmail accounts from Bagby’s computer and used his home phone to call in sick to her work, despite her claims that she was not in contact with Bagby before his murder. Before a warrant for her arrest could be issued, Turner fled the United States back to her home in Canada.

While an attempt to extradite Turner was made, it was discovered she was pregnant with Bagby’s child. The case instead turned to a civil custody case with Bagby’s parents who feared Turner would kidnap Zachary. It was also noted Zachary seemed detached from his mother and preferred the company of other adults, especially the Bagby family.

In July of 2003, Turner met a man and had a brief relationship with him, ending when he discovered her connection of Bagby’s murder. Turner proceeded to make harassing phone calls to the man, over 200 in a month. He contacted the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary three times regarding the harassment, but as he was unwilling to give his name or file a criminal report, the police were unable to investigate the claim. Had an investigation commenced, Turner would have been in violation of her bail terms and custody of Zachary would have been taken from her.

On August 18, 2003, Turner parked her car near the home of the ex she had been harassing, leaving some evidence behind —a few photos of the mother and child and a used tampon — most likely made to incriminate him and suggest he had murdered her and Zachary. She gave Zachary a bottle of formula laced with Ativan (used to treat those with sleeping disorders as well as other conditions) and took a few herself. Turner then strapped Zachary to her chest and jumped from a wharf into the Atlantic Ocean; both drowned. It was determined Zachary was unconscious before reaching the water and did not suffer.

Zachary’s murder led to the passing of Zachary’s Bill which revised and improved the child welfare system in Canada.

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