Glamorous bikini-clad ballet dancer who ‘killed estranged husband during custody fight’ once ‘ran Trump campaign office’
A FORMER swimsuit model and ex-ballerina who allegedly shot dead her estranged husband in a fraught custody battle was a 2016 campaign office manager for Donald Trump, reports say.
Ashley Christina Benefield (née Byers), 28, turned herself in last Wednesday night in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, after cops there found probable cause for her arrest in Manatee County.
The woman accused of fatally shooting her husband Doug Benefield, 59, on September 27 was a former Trump Campaign Office Manager in Sarasota and a former Florida Director of Women for Trump in 2016.
Ashley was also swimsuit model, who was on Trump payroll's as a Florida office staffer getting $3,000 a month plus expenses, investigators said.
Ashley has an account at ModelMayhem.com under the name "Christina Alessia" and was tasked with managing the campaign office in the Sunshine State for the president in Sarasota.
She reportedly traveled on least one occasion to other states for rallies, according to Bill Warner Investigations, a sleuthing firm based in Florida.
The Washington Times reported that at the Illinois GOP Convention in May 2016, the then 22-year-old Ashley was “introduced as a ‘retired ballerina.'"
The Sun can confirm that Ashley was a registered Republican in Lakewod Ranch, Florida, from the age of 21, according to voter records.
Manatee County documents indicate that Ashley divorced her first husband, on August 18, 2014 at the age of 23.
The Sun contacted Trump campaign's press office and Women For Trump for comment on Tuesday.
Deputies were called out to a Central Park home where the former ballet dancer allegedly said she shot Doug during a domestic dispute two months ago.
They were separated and Ashley had been staying at her mother’s home in the neighborhood, while Doug lived elsewhere, according to police there.
Cops said they found no evidence that Ashley acted in self-defense against her Navy veteran husband, who later died from his injuries in a local hospital, police said.
"In the course of the investigation detectives determined Ashley shot Doug, during what she had described was as a domestic argument," the sheriff's office said in a press release.
"However detectives found no evidence that she was acting in self-defense when she fired multiple shots at her husband. She claimed he was attacking her, but detectives found no signs that she had been physically abused."
An arrest affidavit revealed that Doug had his back turned when he was twice struck by a .45 caliber handgun, reported the Braden Herald.
The Benefields were feuding over custody of their daughter when the 59-year-old was fatally shot – and Manatee County court records indicated that their domestic issues went back years.
Police said in each of these cases it didn't look as though Benefield was being abused, however.
The couple established a now defunct dance business based in Charleston, South Carolina, called American National Ballet (ANB) with Doug as the CEO and Ashley in the role of Executive Director.
Their organization, which businessman Doug once described as “Uber-izing ballet," reportedly fired half its dancers back in 2017, per Dance Magazine.
"Trump staffer" Ashley graduated from the Maryland Youth Ballet and is a retired professional ballerina, according to a company description on an ANB Facebook page, which is no longer in use.
The Washington Times cited a Facebook page which showcased her modeling days and described how she “danced for many professional ballet companies along the east coast."
These included the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, The Baltimore Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Ballet Pensacola, The Brandon Ballet, and The Wilmington Ballet Company.
Ashley was arrested and charged with Second Degree Murder and is being held at the Manatee County Jail, where she turned herself in last week.
Source: Read Full Article