CHRIS BAGLEY

Chris Bagley's family wants answers, charges in his death

Investigation is complete, Linn County sheriff says

Christopher Bagley and his children, Sophia, then 3, and Mason, 7, outside of the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium last year in Dubuque. (Submitted photo by Courtney Bagley)
Christopher Bagley and his children, Sophia, then 3, and Mason, 7, outside of the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium last year in Dubuque. (Submitted photo by Courtney Bagley)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s been two months since Chris Bagley’s body was found buried in southeast Cedar Rapids and five months since his death, but no one has been charged and his family is frustrated.

“There was a confession … what? Two months ago,” Courtney Bagley, 29, formerly of Walker, told The Gazette during an interview Thursday. “I just don’t want this to get dropped or this just being in federal court and they are trying to catch people for drugs. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Stewart Bagley, Chris’ father, agreed, saying he just “wanted some straight answers.”

“Somebody confessed,” he said. “I don’t understand what more information they need. Seems pretty easy to me. I feel like we’re being stonewalled. We just want answers.”

Six people with connections to the Bagley case, including one who admitted to stabbing him, have been charged in U.S. District Court for drug and firearms offenses — but not for his death.

Closer to getting answers

A Linn County Sheriff’s investigator sent Courtney Bagley an email late Wednesday saying the investigation was completed.

Sheriff Brian Gardner confirmed that with The Gazette on Thursday, adding that the case has been turned over to Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden for his review.

Gardner said with a “complicated” case like this, involving many witnesses and hundreds of pages to review, the charges may not come as quickly as some hope. He understands the family’s frustration but sometimes it just takes time, he said.

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Vander Sanden said he also understands the impatience and pain the Bagley family is going through. He said the sheriff’s office isn’t the only agency involved in the investigation — it also is being investigated at the federal level because most of the people connected to Chris Bagley have been charged in federal court.

Vander Sanden said he is in the process of going through the case and may ask investigators to do some additional work.

“We only have one shot at this, so I want to make sure we get everything,” Vander Sanden said. “I can’t give a timetable at this point for when charges will be filed, but we are working on it.”

What the Bagley family knew

Details about a “confession” came out during an April 1 detention hearing for Andrew Shaw, 30, of Cedar Rapids, who faces federal firearms charges. Federal agents at the hearing detailed how 31-year-old Bagley may have been killed Dec. 14 after stealing marijuana and other items months earlier from Shaw, who authorities say is a large-scale marijuana trafficker.

Courtney Bagley said she knew Shaw from high school but didn’t know about his activities with her husband.

“He kept a lot from us,” she said. “It was like he was living a double life.”

She said the family has had to rely on news coverage, federal court documents and hearings in the drug and gun cases to learn more.

During the April hearing, Special Agent Michael Kitsmiller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation testified that Shaw reported Chris Bagley and Paul Hoff, 40, of Cedar Rapids, broke into his business Oct. 27 and stole an assault rifle, THC cartridges and a laptop, and then beat up Shaw.

Shaw later sent Chris Bagley a text message, which was retrieved by Courtney Bagley and given to authorities after he went missing, that said “People go missing every day” and warned Bagley not to threaten him.

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Kitsmiller said Shaw denied putting out a “hit” on Chris Bagley, as witnesses told authorities, but admitted he told others he wanted Bagley beaten for robbing his shop and other drug thefts.

Courtney Bagley said her husband and Shaw had been friends and she didn’t know what happened. Chris Bagley told his family he was involved in drugs only a few months before he was killed.

She admitted her husband had a drug problem — he had promised to get treatment after Christmas, she said.

Stewart Bagley said his son told the family he had a drug problem after Thanksgiving and about his involvement with Shaw and the robbery at Shaw’s business.

Courtney Bagley said her husband changed over the last year but was always a good father to their 4-year-old Sophia and 8-year-old Mason.

“That wasn’t him (this last year or so),” said Courtney Bagley, as she was trying to help Sophia pull up a game on her phone. “He loved his kids. He would do anything for them. She was a spoiled princess. I remember when we moved and Mason left his gecko at the old house, so Chris drove back — an hour drive — to get it for him.”

How Bagley died

Courtney Bagley said she didn’t know Drew Blahnik, 32, who faces firearms charges and told authorities he stabbed her husband during a fight on Dec 14, or Drew Wagner, who hasn’t been charged but was also involved in the fight.

During the April hearing, Kitsmiller said Blahnik and Wagner told federal agents they confronted Chris Bagley about robbing Shaw, who was the drug supplier for each of them. Wagner and Bagley started fighting, and Blahnik stabbed Bagley as Wagner pinned him against a wall, Kitsmiller said.

Wagner and Blahnik told authorities they thought Bagley had a gun, according to testimony.

The stabbing happened in the Cedar Rapids mobile home belonging to Paul Hoff, 40, who also faces firearms charges, according to Kitsmiller’s testimony.

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Kitsmiller said Wagner and Blahnik loaded Bagley’s body into a vehicle after the stabbing and took him to Wagner’s house, 4069 Soutter Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids, where they buried his body.

Bagley’s body was recovered March 1 by authorities.

An autopsy showed Bagley died of “sharp-force injuries,” indicating a fatal stabbing by a knife or other sharp object.

“We just want closure,” Courtney Bagley said. “This is not fair for us. We have to keep reliving it.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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