When Doug and Ashley Benefield Begun a Ballet Corporation, It Wasn’t Supposed to Conclusion in Death

But Ashley seemingly even now didn’t trust Doug. On Easter weekend of 2019, the full household went out to evening meal, and Ashley and her mom pulled Eva apart. “They requested if I felt secure residing with him, they instructed me he killed my mother, they explained to me my dad was likely to destroy Ashley and her mom,” Eva wrote in a assertion. “I attempted numerous instances to diffuse the situation by telling them my father has been practically nothing but supportive.”

That summer, Doug grew suspicious of Ashley. He sometimes experienced issues reaching her. He secretly put a monitoring machine on her vehicle and hired a non-public investigator, who advised him that Ashley was viewing another person else. This time, the separation was his thought.

But his anger did not very last. He however hoped that they could shift in alongside one another and be a spouse and children once again. Even as Ashley ongoing to struggle for comprehensive custody, Doug thanked his estranged wife, above textual content, for remaining an “amazing woman” and for giving beginning to their “precious” little one. He forgave her for the affair and begged her to withdraw her accusations she, in the meantime, maintained that he had poisoned Renee and tried to poison her. In November 2019, the relationship counselor learned that Doug had been secretly recording their periods, and terminated the couple’s remedy. (She continued to treat Ashley by itself.)

In May well past calendar year, two months into lockdown, Ashley appeared to have the alter of heart Doug experienced been ready for. She texted Doug and reported she desired to talk. “She’s searching to go to a true trauma therapist collectively,” Doug instructed his attorney, Stephanie Murphy, more than electronic mail. “Very conciliatory and owned her errors.” They started out tentatively going on dates—to places to eat, to the beach. Ashley even suggested they move collectively to Maryland—where Ashley experienced grown up, and in which Doug was commencing a new job—for a fresh new start out.

Murphy warned Doug that Ashley—whose poisoning allegations had appear to naught in Florida—might have ulterior motives. “It has lengthy been my belief (sorry, I know you don’t want to hear this) that Ashley could be using this opportunity to forum store, hunting for a new jurisdiction and new judge to whom she can restart this story/situation considering the fact that she has not experienced any luck,” she wrote on August 31. “I have the very same worry,” Doug admitted. “I do not trust her at all no matter how considerably I hope for her modify.” But he rented a U-Haul anyway. “With sincere coronary heart and like and fired up to start following phase of our shared journey,” he emailed Ashley on September 14.

On the evening of Sunday, September 27, 2020, Ashley and Doug have been with each other at Ashley’s mother’s dwelling in Florida, packing up her possessions. A custody listening to was scheduled for the 30th they prepared to attend by way of Zoom. A psychologist’s evaluations of Ashley and Doug ended up set to be launched at the listening to. The reports—which Doug would hardly ever hear—reveal their conflicting states of brain: Ashley had no desire in reconciling Doug did not believe that in divorce.

On Monday early morning, back again in Charleston, Eva woke up, checked her mobile phone, and noticed no Bible verse, absolutely nothing. She despatched her dad a “good morning” text, but he didn’t reply. An hour handed, and she texted him again. She began to panic. “Dad, the place are you,” she wrote. “Dad, you are scaring me. Response the cellular phone.” She drove to her sister-in-law’s and googled “Florida auto accident Benefield.”

The night before, a neighbor of Ashley’s experienced identified as 911. When the sheriff’s deputies arrived, they observed Doug on the ground of Ashley’s bedroom, bleeding from his leg, arm, and chest. They observed a stray bullet on the ground and two additional lodged in the walls. Ashley, who instructed law enforcement that she could even now listen to ringing in her ears, maintains she acted in self-protection. The law enforcement, in accordance to the felony complaint, observed no accidents on Ashley apart from an “old and pretty minor” scratch. “Based on the entry wounds on Douglas it does not seem that he was struggling with Ashley when she commenced taking pictures,” the detective wrote. “It also does not look that Douglas had taken any variety of defensive or combative stance.” Ashley’s striking mugshot went viral.

Ashley has not returned any of my phone calls or e-mail due to the fact the capturing. Neither have her mother or her lawyer the prosecutor declined to comment. She is at the moment out on bond and dwelling in Florida, around her mom and daughter, though she awaits demo: She has been charged with murder in the second degree—an unpremeditated killing. On her application for a public defender, she claimed that she experienced no cash, no lender account, and no discounts. She adheres to an 11 p.m. curfew and wears an ankle bracelet all-around the clock.

On Oct 17, 2020, Doug’s close friends and loved ones scattered his ashes in the drinking water at Sullivan’s Island Beach front, just a few miles from the residence he experienced at the time shared with Ashley. Afterward, about 40 people today collected at close by Dunleavy’s Pub, a pleasant Irish bar in which each and every patron is “buddy” to the bartender and “baby” to the smiley waitress with blonde hair. (“We never treatment about social distancing, any of that,” said Tommie, who organized the memorial company.)

Previous 12 months, Eva dropped out of the College or university of Charleston. Now 20, she functions section-time at a coffee shop, sells paintings of landscapes on Etsy and posts Tik-Toks about evil stepmothers. One of her video clips has been seen almost 23 million times. “I definitely wanna chat to Ashley,” Eva explained to me. “I just wanna ask her, ‘What was going as a result of your head?’ I have assumed about it just about every one day—where did it go mistaken, why did that transpire?”

As for the dancers, who seemed to be the original victims, they are continue to battling with the fallout—financial, qualified, psychological.

Hanna Manka spends her nights performing as a server at a golf club and her days alone in the studio, striving to remain in shape for yet another season of auditions. At just 29, Sara Murawski doesn’t experience all set to give up her executing profession, but it took two yrs to procure a different enterprise job, which then fell as a result of due to COVID. Currently, she is training aspect-time at the university the place she skilled, and she’s having difficulties to make perception of her expertise in South Carolina. Doug and Ashley “were two persons who both of those seemed really generous and light,” she claimed. “This disillusionment has been quite agonizing, perplexing, and unhappy.”

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