The Death of Zachary Dutro-Boggess

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By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly
I’m just going to tell you the facts. I will warn you right now that they aren’t very pleasant. On August 14, 2012 emergency crews brought 4-year-old Zachary Dutro-Boggess to a Portland hospital after receiving a call from his mother. Later, when asked about Zachary, doctors responded that he was "essentially dead" when he arrived at the hospital. On August 16, 2012 Zachary was taken off life support. From The Oregonian: Doctors concluded that abdominal trauma had caused the tears in Zachary’s gut. High-velocity car crashes or bike accidents could cause similar injuries, Leonhardt said. Otherwise, it takes forceful, violent kicking or stomping to cause such injuries, he testified.  Bruises were all over Zachary’s body. They suggested that the child had pulled himself into a fetal position to protect himself from a beating, the doctor said. The various injuries indicated he had been abused multiple times.  It appeared that two of Zachary’s three siblings also suffered extensive abuse. All signs pointed to Jessica Dutro, his mother, and Brian Canady, her boyfriend. Arrests were made. On March 4, 2014 Canady admitted to manslaughter in the death of Zachary and agreed to testify against Dutro. Dutro is charged with murder, murder by abuse, and second-degree assault. On March 27, Dutro’s 7-year-old daughter testified against her mother. She spoke of constant beatings against her and Zachary. On that same day Prosecutor Megan Johnson presented a Facebook message from Dutro to Canady shortly before Zachary’s death implying that Dutro may have killed her son because she thought he might be gay. Also from the Oregonian: Prosecutor Megan Johnson argued the message established Dutro’s motive for inflicting on Zachary a pattern of torture and abuse. Authorities say Dutro assaulted three of her children, but Zachary received the brunt of the violence. In the message, Dutro told her boyfriend, Brian Canady, that Zachary was “facing the wall†because he had made her mad. Her son was going to be gay, she wrote, using a slur. “He walks and talks like it. Ugh.†Canady would have to “work on†Zachary, she wrote. A child is dead. Killed by his own mother. Possibly, because she thought he was gay, not even because he was gay, but that she even thought it might be true. And while we will never know the truth of Zachary’s inner life or mind or the exact thoughts of Dutro as she beat her son, these facts are familiar. They are part of a story we already know, because we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen the parent who seems to go against every natural instinct and turn on their own child because they can’t stand that they are gay, or queer, or trans, or just not "straight" enough. It doesn’t even matter if they are. Just that the parent thinks that they are. We hope that these stories have happy endings with forgiveness and acceptance, but sometimes they don’t. The thing is, each of these stories of abuse from parents are just part of a larger narrative going on. The narrative that LGBTQ people are bad, that they don’t deserve to be loved. These stories of people being attacked or shunned by their own families for being being gay, or queer, or trans, or just not "straight" enough are the same as those who are attacked by strangers for being gay, or queer, or trans, or just not "straight" enough. These stories are the same as stories of people being denied basic rights for being gay, or queer, or trans. All these stories are the same because the narrative that inspires these stories, that LGBTQ people are bad, that they don’t deserve to be loved, still exists. We have to make a new narrative, because lives depend on it. Lives of people you probably won’t even meet. These are the facts. BlogTail_TJ (1)