- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2005

Hundreds of somber mourners filled a Vienna, Va., church yesterday to say goodbye to Taylor Marie Behl, the Virginia Commonwealth University freshman whose remains were found a month after she disappeared from campus.

“The service was beautiful and touching, short and sweet, just like Taylor’s life,” said Miss Behl’s mother, Janet Pelasara.

A steady line of teenagers and adults arrived at the Church of the Holy Comforter under a light morning drizzle to pay respects to Miss Behl, one day after what would have been her 18th birthday.

Mrs. Pelasara said she hopes those responsible for her daughter’s death receive capital punishment.

“My prayers are that my next press conference is to be announcing the arrest of the sick subhuman that murdered my beautiful daughter,” she said, her voice breaking. “And may the courts see fit to give him the death penalty so that he may continue his downward spiral into the depths of hell.”

George Peterson, the family’s lawyer, said private investigator James “Bubba” Bates has been hired to assist in the case.

Miss Behl, who graduated from James Madison High School last spring, had just begun her freshman year at the university and disappeared on Labor Day.

Her body was found in a ravine in Mathews County, about 75 miles from the Richmond campus. The state medical examiner’s office used dental records to identify the remains.

Grief-stricken classmates from Miss Behl’s high school were consoled yesterday by their parents and each other.

“Why did she have to die?” asked junior Lauren Harper, 17, of Oakton,. “She was my age. It’s difficult to think about.”

Lauren’s mother, June Harper, said Miss Behl’s death is especially troubling to her because she has three other teenage daughters.

“You just hope they do the right thing and don’t get involved with the wrong kind of people,” Mrs. Harper said. “Because sometimes things happen that you have no control over.”

Investigators have not charged anybody in the case.

However, Benjamin Fawley, one of the last persons to have seen Miss Behl, has been taken into police custody on unrelated charges.

Police found Miss Behl’s body near an abandoned farmhouse that matched a photo on the Web site of Mr. Fawley, an amateur photographer.

Authorities said the farmhouse is near property owned by the family of Mr. Fawley’s former girlfriend, who helped lead police last week to the body.

Mr. Fawley, 38, is being held without bail on child-pornography and gun charges. His attorney, Chris Collins, has said his client had a romantic relationship with Miss Behl.

Mr. Fawley is the only named suspect in the case, police said. Miss Behl’s cause of death remains under investigation.

Mr. Fawley, who has denied wrongdoing in Miss Behl’s death, spoke about the case this week with investigators in the Richmond City Jail, though Mr. Collins said he advised his client against talking to the police.

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