Royal dog breeder “killed his estranged wife on Stanley Johnson’s estate and then shot himself”


A royal dog breeder killed his estranged wife and then himself while out walking, heard an investigation.

John Zurick, 67, shot Deborah Zurick, 56, twice in the back before turning the gun on himself after finding out she moved in with her lover, the hearing was told.

Zurick had taken one last walk in her cottage on the Exmoor estate of Prime Minister Stanley Johnson’s father when he carried out the attack on February 22, 2020.

His ex had just moved in with a new lover in Ireland and had gone back to the cottage to pick up some belongings when the tragic incident occurred.

She returned to the property with her friend Elizabeth Murphy after appearing “nervous” about the trip the day before.

In statements the coroner read, Ms. Murphy said after arriving at Nethercote Cottage, Zurick made the couple a cup of tea and was visibly upset.

Debbie and her husband John (second from right) were friends with Princess Anne

The former couple then had a private chat with the door closed before Ms. Zurick came out and told her friend that the encounter was “intense” and that they should go and return the next day.

The investigation then heard Ms. Zurick saying she had to go to dogs, to which Zurick replied that he would go with her.

Mrs. Murphy stayed at the cottage, made coffee, and said she had never seen Zurick with a gun at the time.

Shortly after Ms. Murphy said she saw an “excited” Rückick “slam open” the door with a shotgun over her arm before saying, “I shot Debbie and you can go.”

After rushing to check on her friend, Ms. Murphy begged Zurick standing in the doorway to call an ambulance, but was told to “sh *** up” again.

John Zurick with wife Debbie Zurick
John Zurick with wife Debbie Zurick

The investigation heard Zurick then grab Ms. Murphy and usher her into an office in a wooden outhouse.

He returned with screws and pocketed them to bolt them, but when he saw there was a second window he opened the door, yanked her wrists, and pushed her into stables that served as kennels.

Ms. Murphy said that while she was trapped, she saw Zurick stick pipes into the exhausts of a car, but after cranking the engine over for a few minutes said, “That didn’t work, I’ll shoot myself.”

Back came back and said to Ms. Murphy, “Please tell everyone I’m sorry. If I can’t have it, no one can, ”the investigation said.

Ms. Murphy thought she heard a muffled bang, then after waiting about 20 minutes she escaped through an open window and finally found Ms. Zurick “flat on the floor on her back”.

A helicopter and armed police officers soon arrived on site and took over.

Debbie Zurick was shot dead on February 22nd
Debbie Zurick was shot dead on February 22nd

John was found by the police in an outbuilding that was believed to have been used as a kennel. He was sitting against a wall with a sawed-off shotgun on his lap.

He was flown to Derriford Hospital after he was found by armed police with a shotgun wound to the head a few hours later but pronounced dead on February 27.

An investigation by the Somerset Coroner on Wednesday concluded that Ms. Zurick was illegally killed by her former partner, who then committed suicide.

The investigation heard that Ms. Zurcik met him at her father’s gun shop at the age of 12.

Debbie Zurick was killed in the incident in the Somerset village
Ms. Zurick was killed in the incident in Somerset village

The couple then married when she was around 19 years old – and initially had a “loving relationship” which a friend described as a “loving relationship.”

The couple were both dog trainers and breeders, regularly attending game shoots and organizing training days for spaniels and their owners at their Somerset home.

However, during the couple’s marriage, it was heard that John was struggling with drinking problems and their relationship deteriorated.

Ms. Zurick finally informed John that she would be leaving in December 2019 and moving in with a new man whom she had previously met with a few friends while on vacation in Ireland.

Zurick was a leading hound trainer and acquaintance of the Princess Royal, and Ms. Zurick was the honorary secretary of the Working Clumber Spaniel Society (WCSS) for more than 20 years.


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