Virginia Man Whose Wife was Killed Alongside Stranger in Twisted Fetish Sex Plot, was Allegedly Having an Affair with Au Pair

Christine Banfield, Brendan Banfield and Peres Magalhaes
Christine and Brendan Banfield (left) and Peres Magalhaes. Facebook

New details have emerged in the case of a woman and a stranger found dead in a Herndon family's bedroom last year.

Christine Banfield, a 37-year-old married mother of a 4-year-old girl, lay stabbed several times and alongside her, a stranger was found shot dead in February 2023.

Banfield's Husband, Au Pair Said They Killed Stranger After They Saw Him Attacking the Wife

Banfield's husband, Brendan, and the family's au pair, Juliana Peres Magalhaes, had entered the second floor suite a few moments earlier. The two claimed the stranger attacked Christine leaving her seriously wounded.

Brendan said he grabbed a gun and shot the alleged intruder. The initial shooting didn't kill him so Brendan told Magalhaes to get another gun so they could shoot him again. She did. The shocking scene was described to detectives as an act of defense. Prosecutors, however, claimed the evidence told a completely different story.

As reported by NBC Washington, Fairfax County authorities on Monday outlined a mysterious series of events leading up to the double homicide as part of a hearing to decide whether Peres Magalhaes should stand trial for 39-year-old Joseph Ryan's murder.

Sequence of Events

It was around 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2023, when Magalhaes left the Banfields' home with their daughter, according to detectives. The 23-year-old told police she went back to the home because she forgot to grab packed lunches. When she arrived, Magalhaes, a Brazilian-national who also lived in the home, said she saw a car she didn't recognize.

She called Christine, but when the mother didn't answer, Magalhaes phoned Brendan, who quickly came home, authorities said. Minutes later, the pair and the child entered the home. Brendan then went upstairs to the bedroom where he found Christine and Ryan.

Detectives say the two claimed Ryan had attacked Christine, prompting Brendan — a law enforcement officer for the Internal Revenue Service — to fire his weapon at Ryan.

Fetish Website Used to Lure Ryan to the Home and Pin Christine's Murder on Him?

Ryan had no obvious connection to the family or home. But as detectives began probing how he supposedly found Christine, their case and the witness statements started to diverge.

A search of a computer in the Banfields' home led detectives to a fetish sex website, prosecutors said. The site catered to sexual fantasies involving kinks, BDSM, and more.

Detectives found a profile for Christine and communications between her profile and Ryan. But authorities said something didn't add up. They said the way Christine talked to Ryan in their messages was very different than how friends and family described her.

Police believe someone else was communicating with Ryan while pretending to be Christine — setting a meetup at the family's home for that day.

Magalhaes Charged with Ryan's Murder, was Allegedly Having an Affair with Brendan

Nearly eight months after the killings, Fairfax County authorities arrested Magalhaes and charged her with second-degree murder in Ryan's death. No one has been charged yet over Christine's murder.

At Monday's hearing, prosecutors said they believe Brendan and Magalhaes were having an affair. Prosecutors presented evidence Monday they argue shows Brendan and the au pair went to a shooting range together a couple of months before the murders. Then the month before the killings, Brendan returned and bought a gun, authorities said.

The au pair told detectives Brendan shot Ryan first but he was still alive. She explained that Brendan told her to get the gun that he purchased from the shooting range to shoot Ryan again, according to detectives. They also said both the au pair and husband swapped out their phones for new ones in the days leading up to the attack.

Inside the bedroom Brendan shared with his wife and where Christine and Ryan were killed, picture frames are filled with photos of Brendan and the au pair. Prosecutors say the au pair's lingerie was found around the room. They described her as Banfield's "girlfriend" and "live-in lover."

Prosecutors Allege Brendan and Magalhaes Hatched a Plan to Kill Christine

The prosecution's theory is that the killings were part of an elaborate plan so Brendan and Magalhaes could live their lives without Christine. While the au pair denies she and Brendan were having an affair, prosecutors argue the new pictures on the nightstand suggest otherwise.

On the witness stand Monday, Brendan largely invoked his Fifth Amendment right to decline answering pointed questions from prosecutors about the events leading up to the killings.

Judge Lindner allowed the case against Peres Magalhaes progress. Her attorneys have previously argued that she shot Ryan in self-defense. A grand jury will be convened in the case later in April.