Suspect killed homeless man ‘as practice’ before killing ex-wife: prosecutors

Police were able to link the suspect Nathan Beal due to shell casings found at both scenes

A Washington man is being accused of fatally shooting a homeless man as practice before turning the gun on his ex-wife.

A prosecutor alleged on Friday that on April 3, 2020, Nathan Beal, 36, fatally shot Andrew Bull, 30, in the head. Just months later, he allegedly shot and killed his ex-wife who is also the mother of his children, according to The Chronicle.

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Investigators were able to link the deaths due to shell casings found at both scenes. A 9mm Ruger handgun found at Beal’s residence was linked to the casings. He had recently purchased the firearm with his new girlfriend.

Nathan Beal
(Credit: screenshot)

“We believe the killing was done by Mr. Beal as practice,” said prosecutor Dale Nagy.

Bull’s body was found in an alleyway in Spokane which is located in the eastern area of the state. Beal confided in an individual he was incarcerated with that he was “curious” and that the shooting of Bull was for “practice.”

Prior to the murders, he allegedly took his children to a homeless camp and mentioned killing people there. Beal remains in custody on a $1 million bond and was officially charged with his ex-wife’s murder back in August. He has not been formally charged for Bull’s murder but is listed as a suspect, per PEOPLE.

Beal allegedly fatally shot his ex-wife Mary Schaffer in the head on August 8, 2020 as she was picking up their children. Luckily, the children are reportedly safe.

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A GoFundMe created to support the now motherless children mentions that Schaffer was nervous about retrieving her kids from Beal.

“Mary picked up a rental car and headed to meet her ex. Mary was nervous because her previous custody exchanges did not go well and she had a very real fear for her life but needed to pick up her kids,” reads the GoFundMe. At the time of this story’s publication, it had not reached its $20,000 goal.

“Fearing for her safety she chose to meet her ex-husband at a public setting in Browne’s Addition, outside of the ex-husband’s apartment. The last text family and friends received from Mary was just before noon saying she had arrived. From then on, the family heard nothing further from Mary and began calling the police fearing the worst. The family’s suspicions were confirmed when the news reported a deceased woman near an apartment complex. Thankfully Mary’s children were found safe however, Mary was found deceased in her rental car. Mary’s family is completely heartbroken. Mary was an amazing, kind and loving soul. Mary enjoyed painting, spending time with her kids and her partner, Justin.”

Mary Schaffer
Mary Schaffer (Credit: GoFundMe)

Prosecutors pushed for the cases to be combined so Beal could be charged for both murders last fall but a judge pushed back saying it would be “unfairly prejudice to the jury,” per The Chronicle.

The suspect’s public defender, Stephanie Cady, claimed Shane Phillipy— the jailhouse acquaintance who said Beal confessed to the shooting– is not credible. Cady charged Phillipy is “very likely not a credible witness” due in part to his “significant criminal history.”

Beal is set to stand trial on  October 4.

“There is going to be undue prejudice if these cases are joined,” said Cady.

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