Storyville – Your Father’s Murderer Review: Dad Dead Doc Done Good

February 22, 2010 by  
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STORYVILLE – YOUR FATHER’S MURDERER: Monday 21st February, BBC4, 10pm ALERT ME

The Storyville documentary strand rarely disappoints and this latest offering is no exception.

Where other outings might explore a political situation or infamous life story, this one focuses on a very ordinary American family who have suffered a heartbreaking tragedy.

In 2001, Dr Andrew Bagby was murdered in a car park in western Pennsylvania. The prime suspect, his older ex-girlfriend Dr Shirley Turner, soon fled the United States for Canada where she announced she was pregnant with Andrew’s child – a boy called Zachary.

The film starts with a memorial to Andrew and is made by his childhood friend Kurt who travels the US and the UK collecting interviews with people that knew Andrew, recording their memories and finding out even more about his deceased best buddy.

Made up mainly from Kurt’s own archive footage of Andrew and talking heads with his many friends – the film follows the murder case and then shifts focus to the ensuing custody battle.

After a disturbed Turner is allowed to walk free on bail in Canada and given custody of Zachary while awaiting extradition to the US, the baby’s grandparents, David and Kathleen Bagby, have a lengthy legal fight and are eventually granted a few hours a week. Despite being forced to organise pick-ups with the psychotic woman they know killed their son, the couple show unbelievable strength.

They somehow survive a second shocking tragedy and the film becomes a testament to their strong will.

Clearly a work of love, Your Father’s Murderer: A Letter To Zachary could not have been made by anyone but a close friend of Andrew’s. Interviewees are completely open with him where they might not be with a professional crew and the Bagbys are able to show all the raw emotion they have suffered.

You can’t help but really care about and admire David and Kathleen, suffer their loss and feel like you too knew Andrew. Exceptional people and another exceptional Storyville.