Mystery Surrounds Double Homicide As Au Pair Now Charged With Murder After Puzzling 911 Call

Brendan Robert Banfield allegedly told police dispatch he shot a man in his home who fatally stabbed his wife — now police say that's not true, accusing the family's au pair of doing the shooting. Mr Banfield has not been charged with any crimes.

A break in a seven month investigation has led to a family’s au pair being charged with murder.

In the early morning hours of February 24, a woman was fatally stabbed and a man was shot and killed at a residence in a quiet Northern Virginia neighborhood.

Now a woman, who had previously been believed to be a witness, has been charged in connection with the double homicide. However, Fairfax County Police say the case is still unclear.

23-year-old Juliana Peres Magalhaes, an au pair for the deceased woman’s family, has been charged in the shooting death of 39-year-old Joseph Nathan Ryan, who did not live in the home he was killed in.

Fairfax County Police Department said officers responding to the 911 call in February discovered an “appalling scene” at the home. Ryan was shot dead and a female 37-year-old resident, Christine Ann Banfield, was fatally stabbed in an upstairs bedroom. Banfield was a mother and nurse.

Initially, authorities said a woman told 911 dispatch that a friend of hers had been hurt. A man then spoke on the phone and allegedly claimed he had shot another male in his home; he claimed the man was an intruder who stabbed his wife Christine Banfield.

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At the time of the incident, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis described the scene as a “vicious and brutal attack.”

Davis told press that the 911 call had been made from the au pair’s cellphone. He said two calls had been made from that phone — the first was a dial and hang up. Then approximately thirteen minutes later, a call to 911 was made again from the same phone. Two people were on the line, Banfield’s husband and their au pair, Magalhaes.

“The husband tells the 911 call-taker that he just shot a man inside of his home and the husband tells the 911 call-taker that the man he just shot had stabbed his wife,” Davis told press.

“We still have a lot of work to do to identify who exactly — we have to prove it — who exactly shot and killed our male decedent, Joseph Ryan, and who exactly stabbed Christine Banfield to death,” the police chief said. “We know what our 911 caller, the husband, told us, but we have a lot of work to do to substantiate that claim or to otherwise identify the person responsible for that crime and both crimes.”

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“There was no forced entry whatsoever. This was not a home invasion,” Davis explained. “Here’s what I can say right now with certainty: He did not force entry into the home. I do not know exactly what the nature of his presence in the home is all about just yet, but we’re working hard to determine that.”

“We don’t think he is necessarily a stranger,” Davis clarified, regarding Ryan. He then said Christine Banfield’s 38-year-old husband and Peres Magalhaes were “present and involved.”

At the time, Davis said the husband had declined to speak with investigators. However, Peres Magalhaes had been in conversation with them.

On Thursday, seven months after the double homicide, the Washington Post identified the husband as Brendan Robert Banfield from court documents. Peres Magalhaes has now been named by police as the one who shot Joseph Ryan — despite what had been claimed on the initial 911 call — after extensive gathering of forensic evidence and investigation.

However, investigators say they are still putting the pieces together when it comes to the “circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing of Christine Banfield.”

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Additionally, detectives have not disclosed why they believe Brendan Banfield had allegedly taken responsibility for the shooting death in the 911 call. He has not been charged in connection with the case nor has he been accused of any wrongdoing.

Peres Magalhaes is currently being held without bond on a second-degree murder charge.

A disturbing detail was also noted about the incident: a four-year-old girl was in the residence at the time of the killings.

“We’re taking care of the child. We’re working with other family members to make sure that child is cared for. We’re going to do what’s right by that child. The truest victim of all is that four-year-old,” Chief Davis had explained in a previous statement. The four-year-old is the child of the “husband and our female decedent,” according to Davis.

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