<bt>The body of Vienna resident Taylor Behl, 17, who had been missing from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond since Sept. 5, was found on Wednesday, Oct. 5 in a wooded area of Mathews County, Va., about 70 miles east of Richmond. Badly decomposed, the body was identified the next day by the use of dental records, according to police reports. Police have said they are still waiting for the medical examiner to determine the cause of Behl's death.
Evidence from the site is being collected and processed, said police, who are releasing few details about the investigation.
However, Cynthia Price of the Richmond Police Department's Public Information Office did confirm that since the discovery of Behl's body, the scope of the investigation has narrowed significantly, not only geographically but also in terms of the people under investigation.
The person being most closely scrutinized in the case is Benjamin Fawley, 38, the photographer from Richmond who was one of the last people to see Behl before she disappeared.
"We're definitely taking a close look at him," said Price. "We haven't specifically named him as a suspect, but some people are saying he's at the top of our list."
Among them is George Peterson, the attorney retained by Behl's family since shortly after her disappearance. He pointed out that the location where Behl was found "is a place where [Fawley] frequented and took pictures."
It has been widely reported that a photo Fawley took of the location guided police to the body, although police have declined to confirm the reports.
Kirsten Nelson, also of the Richmond Police Public Information Office, did mention that interviews and photos led investigators to believe that Behl had been to the site before.
"There are other details that tie [Fawley] directly to it," said Peterson, although he said he could not elaborate. He also noted that when Richmond Police Chief Rodney Monroe was asked whether there might be a killer on the loose in Richmond, his response was an immediate "No."
"You can kind of read between the lines on that one," said Peterson.
Fawley is still being held without bond in the Richmond City Jail. He was arrested after a search of his apartment led to 16 separate charges of child pornography.
ANOTHER WARRANT WAS served Friday charging Fawley with possession of a firearm while a convicted felon. According to a police report, investigators determined that Fawley had been in possession of a firearm prior to Behl's disappearance. State law prohibits police from elaborating on the prior felony.
It does not appear to have been incurred in the Richmond area, although Fawley was known to the Richmond court system. According to court records, the city has issued charges against him including, but not limited to assault, assault and battery, trespassing, defacing public property, failure to pay restitution and at least 20 traffic violations that, taken together, indicate that Fawley was a habitual reckless driver in spite of the fact that he often lacked valid tags, inspection and city decals, valid registration, liability insurance and a valid driver's license. He also incurred reckless driving charges in nearby Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield counties.
On Thursday, Virginia Commonwealth University filed a civil complaint against Fawley for "warrant in debt."
The only other person arrested in connection with the case, identified by Nelson as Jesse Schultz of Richmond, was released shortly after his arrest. Schultz was arrested on charges of drug possession after a police dog led investigators to his house following a search of Behl's car, according to police reports.
There is now a task force of 11 people on the Behl case full-time, said Price, representing the Richmond Police Department, Virginia Commonwealth University Police, the FBI and the Office of the Attorney General. "And other people are helping out wherever is appropriate."
On Tuesday, police issued a request for information from Mathews County residents regarding Virginia license plates GRN ERTH and JPC 2848 and Ohio license plate EP 34 KW, as well as a white Ford Escort. They are seeking times and places the vehicle was spotted and a description of who was driving.
Peterson said funeral arrangements will not be finalized until the body is released from the state medical examiner's office in Richmond.