Man charged with killing ex-wife while trying to pick up kids

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A Washington man has been arrested and charged with murder after his ex-wife was shot in the eye while trying to pick up their children at his home.

Police responded to a 911 call from a witness around 5 p.m. on Saturday who said they saw a woman slumped in her car with blood coming out of her mouth.


When authorities from the Spokane Police Department arrived, they found the body of Mary Schaffer, who had suffered  “trauma to the left eye, consistent with a bullet entry into the head,” according to court documents, KYLY reported.

The officer said the victim didn’t appear to have been robbed and her purse was over her shoulder as if she had been preparing to get out of the car, which was parked across the street from the home of her ex-husband, Nathan Beale. Police found a 9mm shell casing on the ground near the car.

Beale, 36, had apparently threatened to kill Schaffer several times before during the past three to five years, according to court documents.

Schaffer’s brother told police that Beale “has not concealed his hatred of Mary,” the documents said.

Beale had said the victim was insane because of brain damage from a tumor, “needed to be shot” and that he planned to “take care of that,” the brother continued. He also said that Beale had claimed he was going to save up $3,000 to hire someone to kill Schaffer.

Police questioned Schaffer’s boyfriend, who said she flew to Spokane to pick up her children but was afraid of what Beale might do to her.

“She thought he might strangle or beat her to death,” documents said. “She was scared to go to Spokane and get the kids.”


Beale told investigators that he went to get coffee around noon after his wife didn’t show up to retrieve the children. Witnesses described hearing a gunshot about 12:30 p.m. and saw a man matching Beale’s description fleeing the scene.

Beale has pleaded not guilty and is being held on $1 million bond.

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