Julia Dardar’s estranged husband reported her missing two days before Christmas, and police looked to the person she was living with, Benjamin Beale, for answers.
It was January 5, and Beale, haunted by concern, told an investigator that Dardar most likely committed suicide or took a drug overdose, according to police records filed Wednesday with the Orleans Criminal Court. But the police were suspicious of Beale’s story: Dardar’s car was still at Beale’s home near Florida, along with her belongings.
Six days later, police raided the house and found a headless torso in a freezer connected to a bus in the backyard. Police nearby found a machine-powered saw that appeared to have flesh and liquids on the blade, court records said.
Authorities did not say the torso belonged to Dardar, or claimed she had been murdered. They said the condition of the body prevented immediate identification or determination of a cause of death.
But police arrested Beale, 34, late Tuesday on charges of obstruction of justice, along with allegations that Beale ran a methamphetamine lab in the home the two shared, as Beale clearly became the prime suspect in the 36-year-old’s disappearance. mother.
The police describe Beale as a man. Acquaintances said that Beale preferred the non-binary pronouns she and she.
Attempts to contact the Dardar family were unsuccessful on Wednesday. But a Facebook account under the name of her estranged husband carried this message: “The only good thing that can come out of this is that [Beale] will never hurt anyone again. I want to thank the New Orleans Police Department and volunteer [canine] search team to end the rule of this domestic terrorist and get justice for our families and our children.”
Dardar’s estranged husband reported her missing to police on December 23, saying she had moved in with Beale in a house on the 2300 block of Pauline Street. The report prompted an officer to visit and speak to Beale, who said Dardar had moved the previous week, the data says. Beale, who has also gone by the name Kelley Kirkpatrick, added that Dardar left behind all of her belongings, including her white Toyota Prius, and that Beale also wanted to report her missing over concerns she was “suicidal,” the data says. .
Beale spoke again with a detective on January 5 at a New Orleans police station in the St. Claude area. Beale was working on a plan for her to move.
But police said there were reasons to doubt Beale’s story. Beale did not attempt to locate Dardar or report her missing until officers asked questions about her disappearance, police wrote in court records. When asked why, Beale claimed he did not have a cell phone to call the police.
Officers were given a warrant authorizing them to search Beale’s home on Tuesday, and during the raid they saw a power cable running from the house to a blue school bus in the backyard, the records say. The cord was connected to a freezer in the back of the bus, and investigators looked inside.
An eerie scene greeted them. In the freezer was a headless torso that appeared to belong to a woman. A deep, linear cut ran down the left shoulder of the torso, which, according to court records, appeared to have been inflicted after the woman died.
The body was found in a freezer on a bus parked outside a home in New Orleans.
Officers saw an ice chest nearby. They opened it and found a reciprocating saw that “appeared to have bits of flesh and liquid on the leaf surface,” researchers wrote. They also found safety goggles, a plastic face shield and garbage bags, which police suspect may have been used by someone who cut open the body.
In addition, police said they found equipment and ingredients to produce methamphetamine in the house, which is one block from an elementary school. They also seized Dardar’s credit cards and ID, as well as two weapons, police said.
Police charged Beale with obstruction of justice in a death investigation, operating a clandestine lab that produced illegal meth and illegal drug and weapons possessions.
Magistrate Court Commissioner Albert Thibodeaux set Beale’s bail at $400,000. Beale has been in jail since Wednesday afternoon.
The discovery of the torso and subsequent arrest of Beale appeared to shatter Dardar’s loved ones, according to Facebook posts from a user who identified herself as Dardar’s mother-in-law. The woman said she helped her son pick up Dardar’s car and other belongings from Beale’s home on January 5, the same day Beale was questioned.
They believe it is the body of a woman who went missing in December.
“I was under 50. parked [feet] off the bus… and had no idea,” the woman wrote. “If anyone else is involved in this heinous act against my family, you will be caught. … You have hurt my grandchildren and I am determined that somehow you will too.”
News of the scene at Beale’s home also sent shockwaves through two local communities that Beale regularly visited, according to some acquaintances. Beale was known for attending Burning Man, the free arts and music festival held in the Nevada desert. Beale would also regularly visit a regional analogue called Engulf, which is held in Kentwood.
Beale also practiced acroyoga, a combination of yoga and acrobatics, according to several acquaintances who asked for their names not to be published. The acquaintances, who knew Beale as Kelley Kirkpatrick, said Beale had fallen out of favor with many in both communities over allegations of harassment and other misconduct.
The circumstances caused many to flock to Beale’s social media accounts, pointing to an earlier photo Beale posted with a filter as a tribute to the fictional television show ‘Dexter’, which is about a vigilante who kills and dismembers people who he considers bad.
Another photo showed an alligator with its entrails dissected. Yet another showed Beale holding an assault rifle while wearing gear popular culture often associates with those who run meth labs: gloves, goggles, and a hazardous materials suit.
A Facebook post under the name Kirkpatrick suggested that Beale and Dardar had met sometime before June 2021. The message showed Beale thanking Dardar for helping an elderly neighbor move.
‘1800 miles from home’
More recently, Dardar and Beale — going by the name Kirkpatrick — each started online GoFundMe pages soliciting donations to support their return from a trip to the West Coast taken on a bus Beale had inherited from a friend. Beale’s post complained that the bus, which had been making annual trips to Burning Man for nearly 20 years, had been vandalized and otherwise deteriorated.
Dardar’s post described how she’d helped fix the bus, and now she was “stuck on the West Coast with no money to go home” to New Orleans, where she hoped her daughter would graduate.
“I’m 1,800 miles from home” in California, she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I need fuel, food and shelter. Although I’ve slept in my car and hit food banks to make ends meet, my back has been messed up from failed epidural treatments, so it’s not the most comfortable place to sleep.”
Dardar returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Ida struck on Aug. 29, with Beale following later, said Tracy Pearson, who lives next door to Beale’s home. That bus, which was mostly white and had a red, reptilian eye painted over the windshield, was the only one parked near Beale’s house on Wednesday.
Pearson said that Beale and Dardar often walked their little black mixed-breed dogs together nearby. Beale would also spin fire sticks, play loud rave-esque drum music, and try to sell dental gems.
“All I heard was a lot of funny music,” said another neighbor across the street who didn’t want to be identified. “Boom Boom Boom. No real music.”
A third neighbor, Mike Major, remembers that Beale invited him last weekend. Major said he told Beale that he’d been seeing Dardar for the past few days, but Beale insisted, “You didn’t. She’s missing. Unless you’ve seen a ghost, mate.’
Major is now concerned that Beale was holding Dardar against her will and was trying to pretend she was missing when, in fact, Beale knew where she was.
“Now I know [Beale] used me like a tool,’ said Major.