Editor’s note: For more coverage of this story, visit The New Orleans Advocate’s website, nola.com.
The suspect in the slaying of a woman whose dismembered remains were found in a freezer inside a bus at their shared New Orleans house is now accused of threatening to cut a former spouse “into pieces” while invoking the name of a fictional serial killer.
The latest allegations against Benjamin Beale, 34, surfaced as police linked Beale to the deadly beating, strangulation and dismemberment of 36-year-old Julia Dardar, whose corpse was discovered Jan. 11. News coverage of the case prompted a woman whom Beale briefly married in early March 2021 to speak with police about threats Beale — who uses non-binary pronouns — allegedly made against her in the summer of last year, after she had left them, according to records that investigators filed Saturday in criminal court.
The woman said she split from Beale less than a month after their wedding because they “hovered over her, yelled at her and intimidated,” leaving her in fear for her safety, police wrote in the court records.
By the beginning of August of last year, Beale had contacted the woman and asked her to come clean Beale’s home, which she refused, police said, citing her recollections. Beale later allegedly arrived at her home wielding a 5-foot-long tree branch that the woman described as a staff which he used to bang on her back door.
While they spoke through a back storm door, the woman alleged, Beale yelled, “I will cut you up into pieces.” Beale left but then returned the following day to speak to her again, this time saying, “I will cut you up into pieces using my ‘Dexter’ table,” investigators asserted in court records.
“Dexter” is a reference to the fictional television show about a vigilante who kills and dismembers people he considers to be bad. A widely circulated photo on a social media account under a pseudonym of Beale contained a photo of Beale with a filter paying tribute to the show.
Beale’s former spouse alleged that Beale would become violent while abusing illegal drugs. She also reported that Beale was becoming increasingly violent as “people were finding out that he abused women,” police said in court records.
Beale has been in the custody of New Orleans’ jail since the day police found Dardar’s dismembered remains in a freezer on a bus outside Beale’s home, which investigators allege doubled as a meth lab.
They initially booked him on counts of obstruction of justice and operating a lab producing meth, the illegal, highly addictive drug. After the remains were confirmed to belong to Dardar, and an autopsy showed that she had been strangled and beaten to death, police on Friday booked Beale on an additional count of second-degree murder, resulting in his bail being increased from $400,000 to $1.4 million.
Police on Saturday then rebooked Beale on a count of misdemeanor simple assault in connection with the alleged threats in August against the other woman. His bond amount then went up another $5,000, records show.
Dardar, a mother of two teenaged daughters, moved in with Beale amid a divorce from her husband in 2021. Her estranged husband reported her missing Dec. 23, some days after a friend said the husband saw Beale driving her car without her.
Police went to question Beale twice over the coming days. They said Beale told them Dardar was trying to move out of the house, and that she might have taken her own life or overdosed on illegal substances.
Officers said they doubted the story because many of Dardar’s belongings were still at Beale’s, so they obtained a search warrant and returned on Jan. 11 at midday to Beale’s property in the 2300 block of Pauline Street in the Florida neighborhood.
Inside a deep freezer, in a bus that was parked in the backyard, they found a woman’s headless torso, along with other body parts. The freezer was connected to the electricity in the house, which contained ingredients and equipment to manufacture meth, police alleged. Nearby was a power saw, goggles, plastic garbage bags and a face shield, all of which convinced police to arrest Beale.
The most serious count that Beale faces is murder, which carries mandatory life imprisonment upon conviction.
Dardar’s survivors include girls ages 13 and 17. Loved ones remembered her as an artistic person who loved working on cars as a mechanic and doting on her daughters, before a meth addiction left her vulnerable to allegedly be preyed upon by Beale.