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Au pair arrested after 'horrific' double murder in family's home

Following an intensive investigation spanning nearly seven months, Juliana Peres Magalhaes was charged with second-degree murder.
Au pair arrested after 'horrific' double murder in family's home
Posted at 4:33 PM, Oct 25, 2023

A couple’s 23-year-old au pair has been arrested and charged in connection with a double homicide at the family’s Virginia home in February.

Following an intensive investigation spanning nearly seven months, Juliana Peres Magalhaes has been charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Joseph Ryan, according to Fairfax police. 

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Officers said they received two 911 calls coming from inside the home at around 8 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2023 — one from the shooting victim, which was a hang-up call, and the second from Magalhaes.

"A woman was stating that a friend of hers was hurt and then a male got on the phone and said an unknown male had entered his home, and he had shot them," Fairfax Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a news conference in February. 

When officers arrived at the home, they described the scene as "appalling." Police said they found Christine Banfield, 37, in an upstairs bedroom suffering from stab wounds to her upper body, and her friend, 39-year-old Joseph Ryan, who had been shot multiple times in the upper body. Christine Banfield and her 38-year-old husband, identified in court papers as Brendan Robert Banfield, lived in the home with their 4-year-old child and Magalhaes, their au pair. 

Sources told Scripps News Richmond that Banfield’s husband is a federal law enforcement agent, and police believe he was the man on the phone with Magalhaes when she made the 911 call.

While police confirmed Ryan was somehow connected to Christine Banfield, they would not elaborate.

Even though investigators believe Banfield's husband initially told a 911 dispatcher that he shot Ryan, Magalhaes is the one facing charges for Ryan’s death.

No one has been charged in Christine Banfield’s death. Magalhaes is currently being held without bond at the adult detention center in Virginia's Fairfax County. Police said they are still investigating the two fatalities, as they work to determine the relationships between the involved parties. They believe "parties involved have been accounted for, and there is no apparent ongoing threat to the community."

Victim specialists from Virginia’s Major Crimes Bureau's Victim Services Division have been assigned to the case and are asking for anyone with information regarding these incidents to call the bureau at 703-246-7800, option 2. 

Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone: 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

This story was originally published by Beth Hemphill at Court TV

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