Brazilian Au Pair Charged With Twisted Murder Involving Her Boss and a Fetishist Stranger

A Virginia judge on Monday found the evidence compelling enough to send forward the case against a 24-year-old au pair charged with killing a man last year who had just killed her employer.

But that’s about as simple as the case against Juliana Peres Magalhaes gets, and it’s not half the story.

According to Magalhaes, a Brazilian national, she left the Herndon home of Brendan and Christine Banfield, where she was a live-in au pair, at about 7:30 a.m. on February 24, 2023, with the Banfields’ 4-year-old daughter in tow. According to WTOP, she was taking the little girl to the National Zoo in DC.

But Magalhaes turned around and went back, she said, because she’d forgotten their lunches, WRC said. When she got back to the house, she found a strange car and tried to call Christine Banfield, who didn’t answer. Then she telephoned Brendon Banfield, a criminal investigator for the IRS.

He rushed to the house, and the two entered a second floor suite, where, they said, they found a stranger had attacked Christine, stabbing her multiple times. Brendon shot the stranger with his service weapon, but he was still alive, so he told Magalhaes to go get another gun from a gun safe in the bathroom so they could shoot him again. She did, and she shot the man, later identified as Joseph Ryan, in the chest, WTOP said.

Juliana Peres Magalhaes/Fairfax County Police Department and Christine Banfield/handout

Detectives began investigating and discovered that Ryan, 39, had been contacted by Christine Banfield — or someone pretending to be her — through a sex fetish website. But friends and family said the communications they found in Banfield’s name didn’t match up with the Christine Banfield they knew, leading detectives to wonder if someone other than Banfield had set up the meeting between her and Ryan for that morning.

Detectives eventually arrested Magalhaes in October 2023 on charges of second degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony. Prior to the arrest, they returned the scene and found photos of Brendan Banfield and the au pair in the bedroom Banfield once shared with his wife, as well as Magalhaes’s lingerie. Magalhaes denied they were having an affair.

“I suspected from the very beginning — and I went to the scene of that double murder — that there was going to be a lot of twist and turns to this investigation. The twists and turns are still on going,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said during the course of the investigation, WRC reported.

“It’s my expectation that we will eventually be able to hold more than just one person accountable for this crime.”

In court on Monday, they presented evidence that Banfield and the au pair had gone to a shooting range together twice in the weeks before the shooting, and that Banfield had returned and bought a Glock — the one Magalhaes used to shoot Ryan.

But Banfield took the Fifth Amendment on nearly every question asked of him in court on Monday, after his attorney told the judge he would do so to avoid incriminating himself. At one point, he even declined to say whether he was married to Christine Banfield at the time of the shooting.

So far, no one has been charged in Christine Banfield’s death. A grand jury is expected to take up the case later this month.

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[Featured image: Photo of Juliana Peres Magalhaes and Brendan Banfield by the widower’s bed after the murder/Fairfax County Police Department]