- The Washington Times - Monday, October 24, 2005

The Richmond Police Department said a teenage girl who ran away from home last month to meet a man she had met on the Internet returned to her home yesterday morning.

“She showed up hale and hearty,” said Kirsten Nelson, spokeswoman for the Richmond Police Department. “She seems to be just fine.”

Monica Sharp, 17, disappeared from her Richmond home Sept. 18 after taking her dog for a walk.

Her disappearance drew comparisons to that of Taylor Behl, a 17-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University who went missing about two weeks before Monica.

While Miss Behl’s disappearance quickly turned into a criminal investigation, police said they had no reason to think Monica was ever in any danger.

“All along, we were saying she was a runaway, and that’s what she turned out to be,” Miss Nelson said.

Miss Nelson said officers questioned Monica yesterday, but Miss Nelson could not comment on what investigators had learned.

She also said a doctor examined Monica and that she appeared to be in good condition.

Miss Nelson said Monica is not facing any consequences from police or from child services for her flight.

She said, however, that police still are looking for Jeffrey Nichols, the 57-year-old Belleville, Ill., man whomMonica ran off to meet.

Police seized Monica’s computer while investigating her disappearance and learned the two had been corresponding for at least two weeks before she ran away.

During her monthlong disappearance, tipsters reported seeing the pair in New York, Illinois and North Carolina.

Police have a warrant for Mr. Nichols on a felony charge of using a communications system to facilitate certain offenses involving children.

Police also continue to look for Mr. Nichols’ 1999 Oldsmobile Alero, with Illinois tag 621 9015.

Miss Behl, who was from Vienna, Va., disappeared from school Sept. 5.

Her body was found a month later, in a ravine in Mathews County, Va., about 70 miles east of Richmond.

Benjamin Fawley, 38, an unemployed ex-convict who had a sexual relationship with Miss Behl, is being held on felony gun and child-pornography charges stemming from the investigation into the teen’s disappearance.

He has not been charged in connection with Miss Behl’s death.

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