- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2005

The cause of Taylor Marie Behl’s death likely will never be known because the 17-year-old’s remains are too decomposed, a family attorney said yesterday.

“It is probably going to be virtually impossible for the medical examiner to reconstruct how she died,” said Michael Morchower, a former legal adviser to Janet Pelasara, Miss Behl’s mother. “For all practical purposes, I think that it’s not going to happen.”

Miss Behl’s remains were discovered last month in a shallow grave near an abandoned farmhouse in Mathews County, Va. She had vanished from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Labor Day.

Benjamin Fawley, 38, an unemployed ex-convict who reportedly had intimate relations with the teen, told police that Miss Behl died Sept. 5, the night she disappeared.

Fawley told police that he was with Miss Behl in Mathews County when she died accidentally after he cut off her air supply during a consensual sexual encounter. He said he panicked and buried her near the farmhouse.

Fawley has not been charged in Miss Behl’s death, but is being held without bail on unrelated child pornography and weapons charges in Richmond.

Mr. Morchower said prosecutors may be forced to accept Fawley’s version of the events because of a lack of forensic evidence.

“The commonwealth forensically may not be able to contradict that statement,” he said.

However, Mr. Morchower said he thinks the commonwealth attorney’s office plans to bring an abduction case against Fawley based on witness testimony.

“If they can prove abduction, that would bring a 20-years-to-life sentence,” he said.

Officials with the commonwealth attorney’s office did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Richmond police have declined to comment, citing a gag order in the case.

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