Family au pair’s alleged affair with IRS agent adds twisted layer to wife and mother’s death


Juliana Peres Magalhaes, Brendan Banfield, Christine Banfield

Juliana Peres Magalhaes and Brendan Banfield in a photo together next to his bed (NBC Washington via Fairfax County Police), Christine Banfield (via her Facebook)

When police in Fairfax County, Virginia, first started investigating a February 2023 stabbing and shooting that took the lives a woman and another man at a Herndon home, they were certain a “vicious and brutal attack” had taken place in the presence of a 4-year-old girl, but they weren’t at all sure why. On Monday, a judge reportedly found probable cause in the murder case against a family au pair whom prosecutors have accused of carrying on an affair with IRS special agent Brendan Banfield, the husband of victim Christine Banfield, a slain 37-year-old nurse and mother.

Juliana Peres Magalhaes, now 24 and from Reston, is accused of shooting and killing 39-year-old Springfield resident Joseph Nathan Ryan before calling 911 early on the morning of Feb. 24, 2023. Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said the au pair and Brendan Banfield was also on the line. Brendan allegedly said that he shot Ryan in self-defense with his service weapon because the man had “stabbed” Christine Banfield in the neck repeatedly.

After seven-plus months of investigation, forensic evidence gathering and interviews, however, cops said Magalhaes was the one who shot Ryan, leading to a second-degree murder charge. Investigators found it odd that there was no “forced entry” into the residence, leading them to conclude that maybe Ryan wasn’t a complete stranger who entered the home just to kill Christine Banfield at knife-point.

WRC-TV reported that the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is exploring that possibility that someone posed as Christine Banfield on a bondage “fetish” website to lure Ryan to the home and to pin Christine’s death on him so Magalhaes and Brendan Banfield could be together. Though prosecutors have not formally made that allegation, and though Brendan Banfield has not been accused of any crime, the state reportedly focused on other details to support the affair allegation, the local NBC affiliate said.

For instance, defendant Magalhaes and Brendan’s alleged shooting range trip months before the slayings — and an alleged purchase of a second gun, the one that Magalhaes claimed she used to kill Ryan — appeared to establish that the two were close enough to spend time together outside of the house.

Juliana Peres Magalhaes

An aerial view of the home where the stabbing and shooting took place (WTTG/screengrab, Juliana Peres Magalhaes in a mug shot (Fairfax County Police Department)

But it only looked worse from there, prosecutors indicated. Prosecutors reportedly said photo evidence obtained after Magalhaes’ arrest — evidence located inside the room where the slayings took place — showed the widower and the au pair smiling together, her head on his shoulder and her arm around his. Magalhaes’ lingerie was allegedly found in the bedroom as well.

Meanwhile, the local NBC affiliate also reported that investigators found the aforementioned “fetish” website messages with Joseph Ryan inconsistent with the way Christine Banfield’s loved ones knew her to communicate.

To date, no one has been charged in Christine’s death — and unlike Magalhaes, Brendan Banfield has declined to speak with authorities. He invoked the Fifth Amendment at Magalhaes’ Monday probable cause hearing, DC News Now reported.

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