- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

RICHMOND (AP) — Amateur photographer Benjamin Fawley was indicted yesterday in the slaying of Taylor Marie Behl, a 17-year-old college student whose body was found in a ravine in rural Mathews County.

Mathews County Commonwealth’s Attorney Jack Gill said Fawley was indicted on a first-degree murder charge.

“I don’t want to go into any of the evidence in the case,” Mr. Gill told reporters outside the courthouse.

The indictment accuses Fawley of killing Miss Behl in a premeditated act and “in the commission of, or attempt to commit, rape, forcible sodomy or abduction.”

Miss Behl was found dead Oct. 5, one month after she was reported missing from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Fawley, 38, is being held in a Richmond jail on unrelated child pornography and firearm charges.

He was one of the last people to see Miss Behl the night she disappeared, and his attorney has said the two had a romantic relationship.

Miss Behl, a VCU freshman from Vienna, Va., was last seen on Labor Day. Her body was found about 70 miles east of the downtown campus.

The medical examiner’s office said the cause of death is still pending.

In October, a judge presiding over a special grand jury issued a gag order after reports were leaked to the press indicating that Miss Behl died during a sexual encounter.

A secretary for attorney Chris Collins, who has been representing Fawley, said yesterday that Mr. Collins could not comment on the case.

Miss Behl’s mother, Janet Pelasara, told the Associated Press that she was pleased with the first-degree murder charge — though it means Fawley won’t face the death penalty.

“The death penalty would be too quick, too easy, too painless,” she said. “He needs to be put through the pain and … the horridness that he put my daughter through.

“When he gets to prison, maybe that will happen.”

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