The grand jury handing the case in the death of Taylor Behl returned an indictment today against Ben Fawley. Ben Fawley today was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taylor Behl.
Fawley, a 38-year-old amateur photographer, had admitted to a role in Behl’s death. Behl, 17, a freshman from Northern Virginia, was last seen Sept. 5. Her decomposed remains were discovered Oct. 5 in rural Mathews County, which is in eastern Virginia.
Man indicted on charge of murdering VCU student Behl
The 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,” he told reporters outside the courthouse.
The indictment accuses Fawley of killing Behl in a premeditated act and “in the commission of, or attempt to commit, rape, forcible sodomy or abduction.”
Taylor Behl’s mother, Janet Pelasara, was in the court room at the announcement of the indictment. Janet Pelasara also commented on the indictment handed down today.
Reached by phone today, Behl’s mother, Janet Pelasara, told The Associated Press she was pleased with the first-degree murder charge — though it meant Fawley wouldn’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.”
Taylor Behl’s mom, Janet Pelasara, never at a loss for words when it comes to the venom that she has for the man that has allegedly killed her daughter also made the following comment:
Janet Pelasara said this is a message to Ben “I think Ben will know his spiraling down to the depths of hell has just begun.”
Pelasara came to the courthouse in case she was needed to testify before the Grand Jury. She also said she came “as a voice for my daughter.”
Authorities have dropped the weapons possession charge against Ben Fawley; however, he remain in jail on 16 child-pornography charges that police say are unrelated to Behl’s disappearance.
Authorities have dropped the weapons charge against Ben Fawley, the main suspect in the death of Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Marie Behl. Fawley was to have appeared in Richmond Circuit Court today on a charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. Prosecutors recently decided not to go ahead with that case.
The Taylor Behl Task Force Monday released photos of a pond, obtained in the investigation, and is seeking public assistance in determining its location. They are requesting your help in determining the location of this picture.
Photos and the request for public assistance were initially sent primarily to news media in the Virginia tidewater area on the presumption that the pond is likely located in that part of Virginia, according to authorities. Other news media, however, have picked up on the information in the highly-publicized case.
The Task Force did not identify the source of the pond photos. Attorney General’s Office investigator, Les Lauziere, when queried Monday by the Vienna Times, would not say whether the photos were taken from a computer belonging to Ben Fawley, “a person of interest” in the case, currently being held by Richmond police on unrelated child pornography charges.
UPDATE: AP: Pond identified as Behl murder investigation continues
Police looking into the death of college student Taylor Behl say they have identified and located a pond shown in two photographs that are part of their investigation.
Sergeant D.S. Carr with the Virginia State Police said in an e-mail to reporters Monday that the pond has been identified located in an area adjacent to Mathews County , but he cannot say anything else about it because of a judge’s gag order in the case.
Other agencies on the task force include the state attorney general’s office, the FBI, and the Richmond and VCU police departments.
Anyone with information should call police at (877) 244-HELP or (804) 828-1196.
Richmond Times Dispatch: Behl investigators want help
Authorities hoping public can lead them to photographed pond
Two photos of a pond believed to be in Mathews County could prove to be little more than a fishing expedition in the hunt for evidence in the death of Virginia Commonwealth University student Taylor Behl. Sources close to the investigation said Behl task force members gathering evidence on the Vienna teen’s death in September — allegedly during a sexual encounter in Mathews with suspect Benjamin Fawley — have no direct evidence suggesting that the pond is linked to Behl’s death.
Still, the sources said investigators want to know where the pond is because it is one of the few places photographed by Fawley that they have not been able to identify and search in the three months since Behl was last seen alive.
A Judge has placed a Gag Order on witnesses in Behl case according to the Washington Post. This would prohibit any witnesses from publicly discussing their testimony in front of the grand jury that is investigating the death of Taylor Behl.
A Richmond judge has signed a gag order that bars witnesses from publicly discussing any testimony they give to a special grand jury investigating the death of college student Taylor Marie Behl, officials said yesterday.
The order was signed Monday by the judge presiding over the multi-jurisdictional grand jury, which is expected to convene again this morning in Richmond Circuit Court. Grand jury witnesses are generally allowed to discuss their testimony if they wish to.
Police chief, Rodney D. Monroe, requested the a gag order after he became concerned when information about the police investigation was leaked to the media last week, ‘Police Told Death an Accident, Lawyer Says’.
Benjamin Fawley is reported to have told police that Taylor Behl died accidentally while they were having a sexual encounter, according to an attorney representing Behl’s mother. Taylor Behl’s mother Janet Pelasara was quick to respond to such statements.
“Let’s be clear — Ben Fawley murdered my daughter,” Janet Pelasara said during a hastily arranged news conference outside her attorney’s McLean office. “His claim that it was accidental is just one more perversion of the truth in his ever-changing web of lies.”
Fawley told investigators that he had consensual sex with Behl in her car parked near a beach in rural Mathews County, Va., the night of Sept. 5 and that he accidentally choked her, according to George O. Peterson, Pelasara’s attorney. Fawley also told police he panicked after Behl died and dumped her body in a ravine, the paper reported.
Pelasara called Fawley “a big, fat liar” and said she was speaking for the 17-year-old daughter she buried Friday.
“He had a dark side, and Taylor wasn’t a dark side kind of girl.”
“It is apparent that my daughter died a violent and unspeakable death at the hands of Ben Fawley that night and was not a willing participant,” Pelasara said.
According the Richmond Times Dispatch in statements given to police by Ben Fawley, he now admits to being with Taylor Behl when she died. However, he is now claiming that it was an accident during an intimate encounter with Taylor in her car the night she was last ever seen. I guess we are to assume he was not abducted as originally told by Fawley?
Amateur photographer Ben Fawley has admitted to being with Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Marie Behl when she died, but he says her death was accidental, according to a jailhouse statement he has given to police.
Fawley, 38, has told police that Behl died during an intimate encounter he had with her in her car the night she was last seen, sources close to the investigation told The Times-Dispatch last night.
I think we have heard this defense before. (Robert Chambers and Jennifer Levin/Preppy Murder). It is truly sad how the perpetrators of crimes must impugned the character of their victim.
Fawley, over the objections of his lawyer, summoned police to the jail to talk Wednesday night. Sources said he described the 17-year-old girl’s death as an accident that occurred when he restricted her breathing during the encounter.
Ben Fawley’s account of the events that took place are as follows. I guess we are to believe that at 10:30 at night two people get into a car and travel 70 miles from campus and just happens to be near the property of the parents of an ex-girlfriend?
Fawley said they were near a beach in rural Mathews County, about 70 miles east of Richmond in the early hours of Sept. 6, the sources confirmed.
Behl was last seen by her roommate at her VCU dormitory around 10:20 p.m. on Sept. 5.
The sources said Fawley also told police he panicked after Behl died and later placed her body in a ravine off a dirt road on property that adjoins land owned by an ex-girlfriend’s family.
The disclosure in Fawley’s jailhouse statement has provided investigators with a solid connection between Fawley, a felon who has been de- scribed as suffering from bipolar disorder, and the death of the teen from Vienna in Fairfax County.
Steve Huff over at The Dark Side has done some great work with the Taylor Behl case, don’t miss.
As reported tonight by Jim Nolan of the Richmond Times Dispatch on MSNBC’s Rita Cosby and Fox News with Greta Van Sestran tonight, Ben Fawley used (correction: his credit card)
Taylor Behl’s credit card to buy gas. It was also reported the gas was purchased with his Taylor Behl’s credit card in New Kent County lies between Richmond and Mathews County.
8 News has uncovered new details in that case as well. According to multiple sources, Fawley’s credit card was used to buy gas in New Kent County around the time Behl disappeared. New Kent County lies between Richmond and Mathews County, where Behl’s remains were found.
From MSNBC, Rita Cosby ‘Live & Direct’ for Oct. 12th
JIM NOLAN, “RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH”: Well, Rita, what we know is that sometime in the morning following the night Taylor Behl is said to have disappeared, Ben Fawley’s bank card was recorded in a purchase of gasoline and other items in a location somewhere between Richmond and Mathews County. Mathews County as you know is the location where Taylor Behl’s body was found just last week.
COSBY: You bet. Now, the credit card trail that Jim’s talking about
if, indeed, there’s this purchase from the, quote, sort of “prime suspect,” Ben Fawley, who is a guy who had a relationship with Taylor Behl
credit card purchase in between these two counties the morning of, means he was traveling either to or from. That is pretty significant, right, Vito?
COLUCCI: Oh, that’s very big, Rita. It shows that he’s lying. As an investigator, you knew from day one that he’s lying, but this gives you ammunition now to sit across the table and point your finger at this guy, who basically said he was almost abducted by, let’s say, aliens, mysterious people, OK, that nobody knew about or anything else. Then he says he puts gas in a Spanish person’s car who mysteriously just picks him up and drives him back.
It’s ridiculous stuff. You got to wear this guy down. He’s too used to talking to young kids and getting away with stuff. He’s not going to do that. This is a good PD down there.
COSBY: Now, let me play devil’s advocate, Vito. He’s alsoâ€”if he did do this, he’s pretty dumb because you leave a paper trail.
More at the Dark Side and Steve Huff
The situation keeps getting more and more complicated for Ben Fawley. The Taylor Behl investigation now leads to an illegal firearms charge against Ben Fawley.
An amateur photographer considered a suspect by police in the death of a college student was charged with illegal firearms possession, the Richmond Police Department announced Monday.
The situation keeps getting more and more difficult for Ben Fawley as first he is arrested on child pornography, then fire arms possession. Can another indictment be too far away?
Ben Fawley, 38, who has been in custody since being arraigned last month on 16 counts of possession of child pornography, has not been charged in the death of 17-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Marie Behl. Fawley was charged Friday with possession of a firearm while a convicted felon. State law, however, prevents police from providing details on the felony conviction upon which Fawley was charged on the latest count. Investigators said Fawley was in possession of firearms prior to Behl’s disappearance.
WRIC News 8
Richmond Police tell us the prime suspect in the Taylor Behl investigation could be arraigned as early as today on a new, unrelated charge – possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
I do not think many people gave it much credence when police and authorities originally claimed that Ben Fawley was not a “person of interest” in the Taylor Marie Behl disappearance. Police state that clues that lead to the discovery of Taylor Behl’s body came from pictures that were on Ben Fawley’s web site.
Police found the body of Virginia Commonwealth University freshman Taylor Marie Behl, 17, after examining photographs on the Web site of an amateur photographer who was one of the last people to see Behl alive.
“I don’t think that I would be too far off base to say that he is a suspect in this case,” Richmond police chief Rodney Monroe said Friday on CBS News’ The Early Show
However, Ben Fawley has still not been charged in the Behl case but is being held on other non-related charges.
Photo led police to student’s body
Police found the critical photo that led them to Behl’s remains on one of Fawley’s Web sites, where he had posted a gallery of his digital snapshots.
Internet Central In Behl Case
The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reports that the two met through Web sites where people post photos and messages. Taylor shared intimate details of her life on these sites, Smith reports.
“There seems to be a lot of information on here that someone who didn’t know her would have a pretty good idea who she is and what she’s all about,” one computer expert told Smith.
While the Internet can put young people like Behl at risk, Smith reports, experts also say it can provide clues when they go missing.
“It really can offer nearly a complete profile of the individual,” one expert told Smith. “Who they spoke to, when and where they expect to go, where they’ve been in their past.”
On Taylor’s Web site, there are numerous messages from Fawley, who took and posted pictures of Taylor on the Internet.
The body found yesterday in the wooded area 70 miles east of Richmond, VA has been positively identified as missing teen Taylor Behl according to a press conference on Fox News. God Bless Taylor and her family.
Fox News Breaking News; Police: Remains Found in Virginia Are Those of Missing Student
From Fox News: Police: Remains Found Are Missing VA Student’s According to police the cause of death has not yet been determined; however, it is confirmed that the remains found yesterday were that of missing VCU freshman Taylor Marie Behl.
The identification was made through dental records and the investigation is continuing, police said during a news conference. They said that “the scope of this case has narrowed significantly” and they were confident they’d resolve it soon.
NBC4; Remains Positively Identified As Missing Teen
VIENNA, Va. — Human remains found Wednesday in a remote part of Mathews County, Va., have been positively identified as those of a missing teenage college student. Officials said Thursday afternoon that the positive identification was made through dental records at the state’s medical examiner’s office. A cause of death has not been determined. Investigators said Taylor Behl’s mother and father were notified about the identification.
Video of Press Conference from WAVY 10
UPDATE:6:00 EDT: Richmond Times Dispatch; Richmond Police confirm remains to be Taylor Behl
“The scope of this investigation has narrowed significantly,” said Monroe, speaking at a news conference held at the Mathews Sheriff’s Office about 70 miles east of Richmond. “Now it’s a very targeted, focused investigation.” Responding to questions about Richmond amateur photographer Benjamin Fawley, Monroe for the first time said it was “not incorrect” to consider Fawley a suspect in Behl’s death. Fawley is currently in jail in Richmond on unrelated child pornography charges.
On the matter of Jesse Schultz, a 22-year-old Richmonder, authorities said the following:
The chief also said that Jesse Schultz, a 22-year-old Richmonder arrested on drug possession charges after a police bloodhound allegedly detected his scent on Behl’s abandoned car, is not considered a suspect at this time. Schultz has denied knowing Behl or having ever been in her car. This afternoon, Schultz’s lawyer, W. Joseph Owen III, said his client “has no idea why he was targeted. He is innocent of having anything at all to do with Taylor Behl’s disappearance.” Owen also said Schultz “does not know Mr. Fawley. He has no relationship to Mr. Fawley.”
The most damning connection of Benjamin Fawley to the crime scene and Taylor Behl is the fact that Fawley’s ex-girlfriend lead investigators to the farm property that her family owns.
Monroe confirmed that VCU detectives who located Behl’s body were led to a farm in Mathews by Fawley’s ex-girlfriend, whose family owns property adjacent to where the body was found. The chief said that the girlfriend, whom he did not name, “has been someone we have spoken to for weeks.” He said he did not know if the former girlfriend knew Behl.
While the investigation goes on in to the disappearance of Taylor Behl, Taylor’s blogs give Richmond Police an intimate look into lives of teen and her friends.
Prior to her disappearance Taylor had an opportunity to put many things into her own personal blog.
Before she disappeared from a Richmond university four weeks ago, Taylor Marie Behl recorded her moods, her crushes, her insecurities in 50 entries she posted online over the span of 12 months. In language both spare and pensive, she detailed rites of passage, from earning her driver’s license to preparing for university.
With her chronicles, Behl, 17, of Vienna gained entry into a vast virtual community, a very public arena in which her writings were there for anyone to see at any time, a personal diary with no key.
One does wonder as to why so many provide so many personal accounts and details of their personal lives in forums open for all to see.
Now police also are privy to the disagreements that Behl had with her parents, her emotions on any given day, even her sexual exploits. By combing through the missing student’s online journal and profiles, they learned not only about her favorite musicians and movies but also about the many people with whom she was acquainted on the Internet — users with such online identities as “Citizen Cope” and “Chaos.”
As it turns out the internet has become are great forensic tool for investigators to get leads and clues.
The Internet, police said, has emerged as a virtual tip machine that often maps the course of an investigation. Within seconds, detectives are able to amass a great deal of information about someone, either through a search engine such as Google or on Web logs, such as the one that Behl maintained at LiveJournal.com, where more than 8 million people, most of them teenagers and college students, document their thoughts.
“It’s real surprising what people put out on the Internet about themselves, what they’re interested in, what they’re thinking,” said Richmond police Detective Jeff Deem, one of several officers assigned to Behl’s case. “Every case is different, but if we know that someone is a heavy Internet user, we’re going to go online and look around.”
Taylor Behl blog begins as follows:
Behl created her Web log, or blog, April 6, 2004. In her first entry, titled “Oh la la,” Behl wrote that her mother found out a boy had visited while she was out. “I’m just trouble,” she wrote. Two weeks later, she “decided that all boys suck.”
Mostly, Behl’s online writings captured the angst and mood swings typical among teenagers.
There were moments of sadness: “I now know that everyone is useless and really doesn’t care.”
There were moments of anger: “I’m so (expletive) tired of everyone making decisions in my best interest. Don’t I get a (expletive) say? NO. Sorry, not ’til you’re 18.”
And there were moments of utter and exposed joy: “I’ll have my own car on Sunday . . . yesssssssssssssss!”
(The rest of the article)