Following a history of threats and violence, a Washington state resident allegedly murdered his ex-wife after she arrived to pick up their kids during a custody exchange. 

According to BuzzFeed News, 35-year-old Nathan Beal has already been charged with first-degree murder, after his ex-wife Mary Schaffer was found dead in her car outside of his apartment in Spokane, Washington. Schaffer’s friends and family told BuzzFeed News that Beal had previously threatened to kill her several times. Following their divorce years ago, she decided to move to Oregon after telling the local family court she “did not feel safe living in the same state as Beal.”

Schaffer reportedly went to pick up her two young children in a rental car, after Beal had been granted custody of the kids over the summer. BuzzFeed reports that she had intended to bring her boyfriend or meet her ex in a public setting since she did not feel safe about the exchange. Unfortunately, her boyfriend was called to work that day, though she texted him her ex’s address and details about her rental car “in case things went south.”

"The last time a custody exchange happened, he had threatened [Schaffer]," Schaffer’s friend Jamie Adell told BuzzFeed News. "She was very nervous, she felt like he might attack her." 

Schaffer also reached out to local Spokane police for support, but was told that they “don't get involved in matters of family law." Police spokesperson Sgt. Terry Preuninger later said that the department does provide “domestic standbys” at times depending on the seriousness of the request. It's unclear why police dismissed Schaffer's request, given the gravity of her history with Beal. 

Schaffer went out of touch in the afternoon on Aug. 8 after telling her boyfriend and a sibling that she had arrived to pick up the kids. Hours later, someone called 911 reporting a woman “slumped over in a car in the area.” The woman was later identified as Schaffer, who was found with a bullet wound in her head. 

BuzzFeed reports that family members were tragically unsurprised by the incident because according to court records, “Beal has not concealed his hatred of Mary and his plan to shoot her."

In the aftermath of this horrifying loss, Adell is now raising money for Schaffer's children through GoFundMe. Beal pled not guilty to murder earlier this week and is now being held in jail on $1 million bail.

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