Thursday, September 29, 2005

Items seized in a search of the apartment belonging to a man under investigation in the disappearance of Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Marie Behl include fabric from a mattress that might be stained with blood, a cell phone that might belong to Taylor, women’s clothes and a .32-caliber gun cartridge, court documents released yesterday show.

Police refused to comment on the seized items, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We cannot comment on that at all,” said Detective Ron Brown with the Richmond Police Department.

Ben Fawley, 38, was formally considered a “person of interest” in Taylor’s disappearance, a title that was dropped this week after police concluded their interviews with him.

“We are not using the term because we are interested in all persons who may have information,” said Kirsten Nelson, a spokeswoman for the Richmond Police Department. “We are not calling him a person of interest because he is not a suspect, but we are still looking at him very seriously.”

Other items seized in the Sept. 23 search include videotapes, bags of clothes, a hatchet, a hammer and three pairs of underwear from an outdoor garbage can; a beaded necklace with a cross and a watch from an outdoor supercan; a black brassiere, white panties, tissues and tampon wrappers, several VCU student IDs — which might include one belonging to Taylor, copies of student IDs, a box of bones and five skateboards from inside Mr. Fawley’s apartment.

Also seized were several fitted bedsheets, a futon cover, a bra and hat and a vacuum cleaner bag.

Mr. Fawley, whose criminal record includes a felony conviction and three years of jail time for car theft in Ohio, was charged with 16 counts of possession of child pornography last week.

Police met with Taylor’s mother, Janet Pelasara, yesterday morning to discuss their search for information on a stolen license plate that may be connected to Taylor’s disappearance, said George Peterson, Mrs. Pelasara’s attorney and family friend.

“There were some details revealed about the license plate that we cannot reveal at this point,” Mr. Peterson said. “It doesn’t suggest one way or another” whether Taylor is alive.

The personalized “GRN ERTH” Jamestown 400th Anniversary Virginia plate was stolen in Richmond about the time the 17-year-old disappeared. The person from whom the plate was stolen is not connected with the case, police said.

“The license plate means something to us but we are not prepared to say what at this time,” Miss Nelson said.

Mrs. Pelasara was encouraged by the discussion with the police, Mr. Peterson said.

“Janet came away from that meeting very encouraged by the manner of investigation and that we would suspect significant activity,” he said. “The case is not by any means at a stalemate.”

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