November 1, 2018
Edmund “Ed” George Zagorski was executed by the state of Tennessee on Thrusday, November 1, 2018. He was pronounced dead at 7:26 pm CDT, inside the execution chamber at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 63 years of age. He was executed for murdering John Dale Dotson and Jimmy Porter on April 23, 1983, in Robertson County, Tennessee. Ed spent the past 34 years of his life on Tennessee’s death row.
Ed was born in Michigan and grew up in a very poor family. Ed never completed high school and had a learning disability. He had trained to become a boat captain.
Ed Zagorski first met John Dotson at a trout farm in Bucksnort, Tennessee on April 5, 1983. Zagorski claimed to be a mercenary from Central America. Zagorski agreed to supply John with a large marijuana purchase; 100 pounds for $23,000. Zagorski told John that the marijuana would be dropped by airplane on April 21, 1983.
Zagorski informed John when the marijuana had arrived and the two arranged to meet at Spot, Tennessee, on April 23, 1983, around 6 pm. John and his friend Jimmy Porter met at a tavern with the money before going to meet Zagorski. The tavern operator saw the money in the bag, along with a pistol. They left in Jimmy’s red truck and were never seen alive again.
Around 5:30 pm, the owner of the trout farm and his girlfriend heard gunshots from the area they knew Zagorski had gone to meet John and Jimmy. Gunshots were not an unusual occurrence because of deer hunting.
On May 6, 1983, the badly decomposing bodies of John and Jimmy were discovered in a wooded area. Both men had been shot and had their throats cut. Near the bodies, a cartridge was discovered that was later identified to have been fired from Zagorski’s HK 91 semi-automatic rifle. Other items belonging to, or items identical as Zagorski possessed were also discovered. Although the time of death could not be determined for John or Jimmy, it was determined that the gunshot ultimately killed them and that they had been drinking prior to their deaths.
In late April, Zagorski arrived at a friend’s home in Ohio and had in his possession several items that had belonged to John and Jimmy, including Jimmy’s truck. He also had a large amount of cash.
On May 26, 1983, Zagorski was arrested in Ohio after a shoot-out with police. During the shoot-out, Zagorski shot a special deputy five times. After his arrest, he gave several versions of what happened between himself and John and Jimmy. Zagorski was sentenced to death on March 27, 1984.
Zagorski was scheduled to be executed on October 11, 2018, however, just days before his execution, Ed asked to be executed via electric chair instead of lethal injection. His request was initially denied, as there was not time to prepare, however, Governor Haslam issued a 10-day reprieve in order to allow time for the arrangements to be made to use the electric chair. He is the first inmate to be executed by electric chair in the state of Tennessee since 2007.
Please pray for peace and healing for the families of John and Jimmy. Please pray for strength for the family of Ed.