Fairfax Co. au pair charged in fetish website killing visited gun range with victim’s husband, prosecutors say

Prosecutors say that the au pair charged with fatally shooting a man inside a Fairfax County house where a woman was also stabbed to death last year visited a shooting range with the woman’s husband just a few months before the bizarre double slaying.

District Court Judge Michael Lindner on Monday found that there is enough evidence and the case can go forward against Juliana Peres Magalhaes, who is accused of firing the shot that killed 39-year-old Joseph Ryan in February 2023. She is facing charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

In making his decision Monday, the judge said he didn’t have to consider motive because based on the evidence, prosecutors demonstrated probable cause.

Ryan and Christine Banfield, 37, were killed inside the home on Stable Brook Way in the Hattontown neighborhood of Herndon on Feb. 24, 2023. Nobody has been charged in Christine Banfield’s death.

Prosecutors introduced business records that showed husband Brendan Banfield and Peres Magalhaes visited the Silver Eagle shooting range in Ashburn, Virginia, in the weeks before Christine Banfield and Ryan were killed.

Range records showed that Brendan Banfield and Peres Magalhaes were at the range two months before the shooting. He then returned on Jan. 28, 2023, and bought a Glock. Prosecutors said the serial number from the receipt matched the serial number of a gun recovered at the scene.

Subpoenaed to testify in court on Monday, Brendan Banfield took the Fifth when asked whether he returned to the shop and purchased a Glock, which prosecutors said was the weapon that Peres Magalhaes retrieved from a bathroom gun safe and used to shoot Ryan.

Eric Clingan, with the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, said the gun was used to “eliminate the only living witness.”

During the preliminary hearing on Monday, Brendan Banfield refused to answer questions from prosecutors that alluded to an affair with Peres Magalhaes.

Peres Magalhaes’ defense attorney Ryan Campbell repeatedly objected to the relevance of the alleged relationship between his client and the husband.

“The purchase of the weapon before the incident is the relevance,” the judge said, who later described the court proceedings as, “The government may be playing two potential defendants against each other.”

Fetish website

Last December during a bond hearing, prosecutors revealed new evidence that could explain how Ryan found himself at the Banfield home on the day of the killings.

Prosecutors said that someone had used Christine Banfield’s laptop to create an account on an adult fetish website. Ryan responded to the user’s profile, and he arrived at the home with the intention of having “rough sex” with Christine Banfield.

Prosecutors have not said who created the account.

At the December hearing, Campbell, Peres Magalhaes’ lawyer, said the defense theory “seems like the easiest to accept — that Joe Ryan communicated with Christine Banfield through a BDSM website.”

Speaking during that December hearing, Campbell said it was difficult for him to accept that somebody other than Christine Banfield would be going on her computer to lure Ryan for months.

At that earlier hearing, Campbell argued that the evidence showed that Christine Banfield established the adult website account, and also purchased tickets for Peres Magalhaes to take the couple’s 4-year-old daughter to the National Zoo in D.C. during her alleged assignation with Ryan.

Ryan and Christine Banfield’s relationship was not discussed in the hearing on Monday, but prosecutors have alleged that Brendan Banfield and Peres Magalhaes were having an affair.

“The defendant and her armed, law enforcement lover did not stand by and patiently wait to shoot Joe until after he was finished stabbing Christine several times. That’s just not believable. This is a story was made up to cover a murder,” prosecutors said during the December bond hearing.

Brendan Banfield has not been charged in either killing.

What happened inside the Banfields’ Herndon house

A Fairfax County detective who interviewed Peres Magalhaes said that she told him she observed Ryan with a knife to the throat of Christine Banfield, who was nude.

According to police and prosecutors, Brendan Banfield shot Ryan near his right eyebrow with his IRS-issued service weapon. Brendan Banfield is a criminal investigative division agent for the IRS.

After Brendan Banfield wounded Ryan, Peres Magalhaes said he told her to get a gun from a safe in the bathroom of the master bedroom. She then fired a shot at Ryan, which struck him in the chest, and devastated his heart, according to the medical examiner who testified during Monday’s hearing.

Immediately after the shootings, Peres Magalhaes denied having a romantic relationship with Brendan Banfield.

However, in the months between the shootings and her arrest, prosecutors said photo and text evidence showed the two had been engaging in an affair.

Campbell objected to Fairfax County senior assistant commonwealth’s attorney Eric Clingan’s attempts to probe Brendan Banfield about his relationship with Peres Magalhaes.

Before Brandon Banfield took the stand on Monday, his defense attorney David Hall told the judge that his client intended to plead the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination.

However, Judge Lindner said prosecutors were entitled to ask questions, and he would determine whether each specific question put Brendan Banfield at risk of self-incrimination.

Banfield declined to answer any questions about his relationship with Peres Magalhaes. At one point, he refused to say whether he was married to Christine Banfield on the day she was killed.

Peres Magalhaes is due in Fairfax County Circuit Court on Tuesday morning, to appeal an earlier District Court judge ruling that denied her bond before trial.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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