A Washington State man allegedly shot and killed a homeless person as practice before he fatally shot his ex-wife, The Daily Chronicle reports.
Nathan Beal, 36, has been detained on a $1 million bond since he was charged in September with premeditated murder for allegedly killing his former wife, Mary Schaffer, in August.
But authorities allege that months earlier, in April 2020, Beal shot and killed a homeless man several blocks away.
Both Beal’s ex-wife and the homeless man, Andrew Bull, were shot in the head, and investigators have linked shell casings from both killings to a gun found in Beal’s Spokane residence, according to The Spokesman-Review.
Prosecutors say a jailhouse informant claims Beal told him he shot Bull for “practice” and because he was “curious.”
Beal allegedly brought his two kids to a homeless encampment several months before the slayings and commented about killing people there, The Daily Chronicle reports.
“We believe the killing was done by Mr. Beal as practice,” prosecutor Dale Nagy said in court during a hearing on Friday, according to The Daily Chronicle.
Stephanie Cady, Beal’s public defender, told the court that the informant is “very likely not a credible witness” because he has a “significant criminal history.”
Judge Michelle Szambelan ruled that the two cases should not be tried together because prosecutors had not provided sufficient evidence that the motives of the two deaths are connected.
Schaffer had driven from Oregon to get the children, who had spent the summer with their father. The couple had been divorced for years and Schaffer expressed fears that she was afraid of her ex-husband, who had threatened her life previously.
Schaffer had asked police to accompany her to retrieve the children, but police told her they “don’t get involved in matters of family law,” Buzzfeed News reports, although a police spokesperson told Buzzfeed that he was not aware Schaffer had made a request.
Beal is said to have openly expressed his desire for Schaffer to be dead because he thought a brain injury rendered his ex-wife “insane,” KHQ-TV reports. At one point he said he planned to save $3,000 to hire someone to murder her, according to the television station.
A GoFundMe account has been created to raise money for Schaffer’s children.