On September 27, 2020, Navy veteran and technology consultant Doug Benefield lost his life in one of the worst ways conceivable. The 58-year-old Charleston native was hoping to start a new chapter of his life alongside his wife and young daughter in Maryland at the behest of the former, but he was shot to death before that could ever happen. Though, as profiled on ’48 Hours: The Black Swan Murder?’ what’s worse is that the person accused of pulling the trigger is also his wife, Ashley Byers. So now, let’s find out everything there’s to know about her, shall we?
Who is Ashley Byers?
As a Maryland Youth Ballet graduate, former professional ballerina, and swimsuit model, Ashley Byers was just 24 when she first came across Doug Benefield in August 2016. They were both at a Republican party fundraiser in Palm Beach, Florida, and ended up bonding over their shared conservative values and love for guns. Therefore, despite their 30-year age gap and the fact that Doug had lost his wife just nine months prior, they decided to pursue their connection. Within six days, the couple had said “I love you” over text, and exactly a week later, they tied the knot.
However, Ashley and Doug’s whirlwind romance started to crumble apart in 2017 itself. He was supportive of her dream to establish an unconventional ballet academy and even helped her set up the now-defunct American National Ballet, but their personal life was much different. Soon, Ashley got pregnant, yet instead of spending time with her beau, she moved back to Florida so that her mother could take care of her. She did return to Charleston in September 2017, only to pack her belongings and leave a note telling Doug that she felt unsafe and was leaving him.
With money problems and the lack of Ashley’s presence as the founder and Executive Director, the American National Ballet broke down as well, and that’s when the allegations against Doug began. Ashley not only spoke up about an incident where her husband had pulled out a gun and fired at the ceiling following an argument, but she also claimed that he was poisoning her. In fact, three weeks before their daughter was due, she admitted herself into a local hospital and got a C-section by insisting on the poison. Ashley simply did not want Doug to know about the birth of their child.
Of course, that personal choice led to a custody battle between Ashley and Doug, where a judge ruled that her accusations had no credible evidence whatsoever. Amongst talks of divorce, her alleging that he was physically and sexually abusing their daughter, and other arguments (none of which were backed by proof), the couple was still on and off. Ultimately, that resulted in the fateful September 2020 day and Ashley maintaining that she shot her husband in self-defense.
Where is Ashley Byers Now?
Ashley Byers was arrested and charged with second-degree (unpremeditated) murder in connection to the shooting death of Doug Benefield on November 4, 2020. She posted bond a few weeks later and is thus out of jail right now, living near her mother and daughter in Florida. Moreover, Ashley has since pleaded not guilty to the charge against her, which means she’s currently awaiting trial. As per the last reports, the 29-year-old has an 11 p.m. curfew and has to wear an ankle GPS bracelet at all times.
Read More: How Did Doug Benefield Die?