- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 6, 2005

Investigators searching for a 17-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University student found human remains buried behind an abandoned farmhouse in Mathews County, Va., yesterday.

The Richmond Police Department task force investigating the disappearance of freshman Taylor Marie Behl, of Vienna, Va., discovered the decomposed remains in a shallow grave in a wooded area about 75 miles east of Richmond, Police Chief Rodney D. Monroe said.

“The FBI has begun processing the scene,” Chief Monroe told a press conference yesterday. “At this time, we do not, I repeat, we do not know who the remains belong to. We contacted [Miss Behl’s] family as precaution.”

Family members said they were confident that the remains belonged to Miss Behl, WJLA-TV (Channel 7) reported. She has been missing from the VCU campus in Richmond since Labor Day.

Chief Monroe said police were led to the scene near the intersection of Routes 14 and 198 in Mathews while investigating locations Miss Behl was known to have visited.

“During the past week, we had gone in the mode of searching locations that we know Taylor visited. That is what led us to this location,” Chief Monroe said. “Two officers from VCU were following leads and made the discovery themselves.”

Chief Monroe would not say when Miss Behl last visited the farmhouse or whether she had been there with Benjamin Fawley, a 38-year-old amateur photographer who his attorney said had an intimate relationship with the girl.

Mr. Fawley has not been charged in Miss Behl’s disappearance. The owners of the property where the farmhouse stands are not related to Mr. Fawley, police said.

Chief Monroe said it could take several days for the state medical examiner’s office to identify the remains.

The remains were discovered several hours after a multijurisdictional grand jury met to review evidence and hear testimony in Miss Behl’s disappearance.

She was last seen Sept. 5 leaving her dormitory room at about 10 p.m.

Two weeks later, her 1997 Ford Escort was found parked less than two miles from her dorm room. It had stolen Ohio license plates. Included in the evidence presented to the grand jury yesterday were items authorities seized from Mr. Fawley’s apartment in Richmond last month.

The items included photographs taken by Mr. Fawley that show the area surrounding the farmhouse, WJLA-TV reported.

George Peterson, a family friend and an attorney for Miss Behl’s mother, refused to comment last night on the discovery and whether the family thought the remains belonged to Miss Behl. “No comment on anything,” he said.

Her friends said privately last week that they were not surprised she was missing because she “liked older guys,” and might have found trouble because of it.

Mr. Fawley was considered a “person of interest” early in the investigation. He was one of the last persons known to have seen Miss Behl. That title was dropped early last week after police concluded their interviews with him.

A Sept. 23 search of Mr. Fawley’s apartment revealed fabric from a box-spring mattress that might be stained with blood, a cell phone that might have belonged to Miss Behl, women’s clothes, a .32-caliber gun cartridge, and several samplings of hair and fibers.

Police were still processing that evidence yesterday and had not determined whether the forensic evidence linked Mr. Fawley with Miss Behl’s disappearance.

Mr. Fawley, whose criminal record includes a felony conviction and three years of jail time for car theft in Ohio, was charged late last month with 16 counts of possession of child pornography. He has been ordered held without bail.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Jagels told the Associated Press last month that authorities found at least 30 videos on Mr. Fawley’s computers depicting children as young as 1 in sexual acts. Neither Miss Behl nor Mr. Fawley appears in any of the videos, he said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide