Bengu Beachley, the Fauquier County schoolteacher found fatally shot Sunday with her ex-husband, John Beachley, in an apparent murder-suicide, last year sought a protective order against him, citing a history of threatening and harassing behavior. But a judge denied the request in August 2021.
The shooting came just six days after she was granted a divorce. Bengu Beachley was 38 years old.
Bengu Beachley’s mother, Semra Metin, 63, also suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the Jan. 23 shooting. She is currently recovering at INOVA Fairfax Hospital, where she recalled the shooting to the Fauquier Times through a Turkish-language interpreter. Metin maintained that John Beachley opened fire on her and her daughter when they were returning to Bengu Beachley’s Bealeton home Sunday night.
Metin said that her former son-in-law had a history of threatening behavior.
Metin, who lives in Istanbul but frequently visits her daughter in Virginia, said she and her daughter were out at a movie theater on Jan. 23. When they returned home and backed the car into the garage, John Beachley was waiting for them. He “pulled a gun out and said something to Bengu,” Metin recalled, at which point “Bengu turned to [Metin], asked for the phone, because she thought that he was just going to scare them again … and he just started shooting.”
Fauquier sheriff’s deputies responded to the shooting at 8:44 p.m. and found Metin at the rear of the house, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Deputies then approached the open garage and found Bengu Beachley dead from apparent gunshot wounds inside a gray Mazda sedan inside the garage. John Beachley, also dead from gunshot wounds, was lying on the garage floor. Deputies noticed multiple bullet casings on the floor of the garage and a firearm lying “in the area of the deceased male,” the affidavit added.
Lt. Steven Lewis of the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office has declined to release any additional information about whom investigators believe was the shooter. Lewis on Monday called the shooting an “apparent murder-suicide” without specifying the perpetrator.
Protective order denied
On April 18, 2021, Bengu Beachley filed an emergency protective order, alleging that her “soon-to-be-ex-husband” had repeatedly threatened and harassed her since their separation the previous year. She found a tracking device on her car earlier that day, she told police, according to the criminal complaint filed with the protective order request.
“When I moved out of John’s home, he left a gun with a note that said ‘loaded,’” the April 18 complaint said. “He placed it on top of the summons for divorce paperwork… and the message he was trying to give was clear.
“I always lived in his house full of fear due to the extremely high number of guns he had,” the complaint continued, “and even though I got cameras installed in my current place, I still don’t feel safe, knowing how unstable he gets when he consumes alcohol, how he throws things around, such as alcohol bottles, or punches walls.”
She also stated in the complaint that on several occasions she saw John Beachley stalking her in her Bealeton neighborhood, even though she’d never shared her new address with him.
Bengu Beachley’s emergency protective order expired after three days, after which she was granted a preliminary protective order, pending a hearing. Her request for a full protective order against John Beachley was denied in August 2021, according to documents from Fauquier Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.
Bengu and John Beachley had married in August 2015 and lived together in a home on Reeves Court in Warrenton. The couple separated at the end of March 2020, court filings show. On June 2, 2020, Bengu Beachley filed for divorce, stating in a filing that her husband had been “abusive and cruel” to her and had “verbally and mentally abused [her] numerous times while drinking excessively.”
John Beachley denied these claims in court documents.
John Beachley’s behavior was “classic domestic violence that escalated,” said Jennifer Swanson, a close friend of Bengu Beachley’s. “The more the woman gets away from the man, the more the man responds. Bengu took all the precautions… and he just kept responding.”
Swanson, a language instructor based in Falls Church, first met Bengu Beachley as a graduate student at Virginia International University in 2011. The two became close friends over the next 10 years.
“She was just so funny and beautiful and smart and clever,” Swanson said. She was “always helping people, always making people laugh and bringing people together.”
Bengu Beachley viewed her divorce as a clean start, Swanson and another friend said. But she decided to stay in the area, because it “was her dream to live and work here.” Beachley had worked as an English-as-a-second-language teacher at Grace Miller Elementary School in Bealeton for several years.
Following the shooting, Swanson started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Metin’s medical expenses and the cost of returning Bengu Beachley’s remains to her native Turkey to be buried. As of Wednesday evening, the page had raised $28,000.
“People have been amazing in their outpouring,” said Swanson. “I knew they would be, because that’s Bengu’s” impact.
Swanson said that Bengu Beachley’s family in Turkey is making funeral arrangements while Metin remains in the United States for further medical treatment.