- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2005

An amateur photographer who was among the last people to see missing college student Taylor Marie Behl was arrested yesterday on 16 counts of possession of child pornography, the Richmond Police Department said.

Police arrested Ben Fawley, 38, late in the afternoon at his apartment, just blocks from the Virginia Commonwealth University campus where Taylor was a 17-year-old freshman. The charges against Mr. Fawley are not related to the young woman’s disappearance, police said.

Earlier this week, police seized seven computers, some CDs and other computer equipment from Mr. Fawley’s home on suspicion he possessed child pornography.

Police said they also searched the apartment for items, including clothing, that might belong to Taylor, who has been missing since Sept. 5.

Police said they also took a sample of Mr. Fawley’s DNA and his fingerprints.

Chris Collins, the attorney for Mr. Fawley, has acknowledged his client had a “romantic” relationship with Taylor and that he is considered a “person of interest” in the disappearance. Mr. Collins did not return calls yesterday seeking comment on Mr. Fawley’s arrest.

“The Richmond Police Department continues to conduct an aggressive and focused investigation into the disappearance of Taylor Behl,” Chief Rodney D. Monroe said yesterday.

Taylor left her dorm room at about 10 p.m. to give her roommate privacy with a boyfriend. She said she would return in a little while, taking with her a cell phone, a small amount of cash, a student ID and her car keys.

“I’m glad that [Mr. Fawley] is behind bars, but it doesn’t help the police find Taylor,” her mother, Janet Pelasara, told Richmond TV station WWBT.

According to a police incident report, Mr. Fawley said he was abducted several hours after Taylor disappeared. He told police he was robbed and kidnapped by two unknown assailants as he was out walking Sept. 6 at about 5 a.m.

Mr. Fawley said he was beaten, a bag was put over his head and he was put into a vehicle, then driven to an unknown location where he was left on a dirt road.

The report also says Mr. Fawley was not able to provide details about where he had been taken. But he told police he had been attacked last year outside his home and thought the two incidents were related.

“I was able to determine that he should be on medication for bipolar disorder and that he was intoxicated prior to the listed events,” a police officer wrote in the report. “It is my belief that the victim was attacked, but due to his mental state getting any other relevant information is going to prove to be very difficult.”

Taylor’s family has emptied her dorm room because Mrs. Pelasara does not want her daughter to return to the university, if found.

The arrest comes fives days after another 17-year-old Richmond resident disappeared.

Police say Monica Rose Sharp was last seen walking her dog and that she went to meet a man she met on the Internet. Investigators do not think Monica is in danger.

“She did not return; the dog did,” said Cynthia Price, a spokeswoman for the Richmond Police Department.

The girls are two of 110 persons the department has classified as missing. The department has logged 435 missing persons cases this year. Most of them are adults or are not at risk of being harmed.

Miss Price said Monica’s case is under investigation. She initially had been classified as a runaway.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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