Police are investigating the disappearance of Taylor Behl, 17, of the 200 block of Commons Drive in Vienna. Taylor, who graduated from James Madison High School in June and had just started her freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, was last seen Monday, Sept. 5, at 10:20 p.m., said VCU campus police chief Willie Fuller.
That evening, Taylor had been to dinner at a local restaurant with a friend, said Fuller. When she returned to her room, he said, Taylor's roommate and the roommate's boyfriend were in the room, and Taylor left to give the pair some privacy. She left in her car, which she had parked off-campus at a friend's house, and took very little with her, said her grandmother, Nancy Pelasara.
The disappearance was not reported to campus police until Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 1:35 a.m., said Fuller. Officers on the street immediately started patrolling the area and checking with people she knew, and began searching for her later that evening. Police entered Taylor's description and the 1:35 a.m. description of her car into statewide and national databases, said Fuller.
"We've launched really a massive search to try to locate her," said Fuller. "We sent a national teletype to all juvenile divisions in police departments all along the eastern seaboard in the U.S. just in case she shows up. We are determined to leave no stone unturned in our attempts to try and locate her."
The group has followed 15 or 20 leads so far with no result, Fuller said. All the leads so far have been in Richmond or the metropolitan area, and "nothing has taken us out of state that leads us to believe she's out of state," said Fuller.
Campus police have teamed with Richmond police and the FBI in an advisory role to track down the leads, said Fuller.
Taylor had no conflicts between her or anyone else, said Fuller, and police do not expect foul play.
"It's not like [Taylor] to go anywhere without telling us," said Pelasara. "She is too concerned with her mother. She was so concerned about leaving her mom, she said to me, 'Mom's going to be all alone when I go to college, what's she going to do?'"
Neighbor Sandra Zoltor agreed. "She's not the type of person who would go off on her own," she said.
According to Pelasara, Taylor and her mother, Janet Pelasara, are very close. A portrait of Janet Pelasara and Taylor hangs in the Pelasara's living room, from a few years ago when Nancy Pelasara and her family got their photos taken.
Taylor, who wants to be an international business major, likes to dance, skate and go to concerts and the theater, said Nancy Pelasara. Taylor was excited about attending VCU, said her grandmother.
"She called me the week after she got there, and she was so excited," said Nancy Pelasara. "Her roommate was fantastic, even the food was good. She said, 'I love it,' and I said, 'You love school?' 'Yes, it's wonderful,' she told me."
Zoltor and other neighbors printed out posters and pamphlets with Taylor's picture and description to distribute through Vienna.
"When her mom told me what was going on, I couldn't believe it could be true," said Zoltor, who is on the homeowner's association board with Janet Pelasara. "We're trying as much as we can to put up fliers and get the word out to neighbors."
If her granddaughter was reading this, said Nancy Pelasara, she would want Taylor to know that "you have so many people that love you and if you ever need or want for anything you know there's people waiting."
"We're going to have the biggest party for her when she comes home," she said.
Taylor is 5 feet and 6 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds, according to a notice on the VCU campus police Web site. Her car, a 1997 white Ford Escort sedan with plates JPC-2848, is also missing. VCU police ask anyone with information about Taylor's location to contact them at 804-828-1106.