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Paradise Lost VCU student Taylor Behl leaves behind a grieving nation--and clues
The case of Virginia student Taylor Behl has moved from mystery to tragedy; here is the story

 VCU student Taylor Behl, in an undated family photo, left behind a grieving community, but perhaps enough clues for the police.
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Date published: 10/9/2005

O HEADSTONE marked the shallow grave that held the remains of Virginia Commonwealth University coed Taylor Marie Behl. In fact, her grave was never meant to be found. Nonetheless it was beside a picturesque stream in the woods off a little-used dirt road in rural Mathews County that Taylor was cruelly laid to rest.

In fact, it was the remote and picturesque nature of this location that led authorities to her body--and the tragic conclusion to this case.

Taylor Behl was not your typical college freshman. She had weathered family and personal challenges while traveling internationally and experiencing Europe as a resident and a student. When she graduated from high school she counted 15 different schools she had attended around the world. By most standards she was a savvy young woman who could handle big-city streets, to include Richmond, where she enrolled at VCU.

It appeared to be a good fit, Taylor and VCU, that nonetheless ended sometime after 10 p.m. on Labor Day. Her first semester at college had ended almost before it began.

Taylor spent Labor Day with her family, and, with $40 in her pocket from her mom, drove back to VCU that evening to have dinner with a friend. Enter Ben Fawley, aka "Skulz," a 38-year-old bipolar, indigent father of two who acknowledged an ongoing intimate relationship with 17-year-old Taylor (in itself a violation of state law), to include being with her the afternoon she disappeared.

Fawley told police that he had intimate contact with her that same evening, after which he lent her a skateboard and walked her back to her dorm at 10 p.m. Finding her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend in her dorm room, she said she was going skateboarding with friends. She grabbed her cell phone and the keys to her '97 Ford Escort and left her dorm--never to be seen alive again.

Twenty-six hours later, Taylor's roommate reported her missing to authorities, who initially handled the matter as a routine missing-person case. After all, 850,000 people are reported missing in the U.S. every year, with most quickly accounted for.

Some believed her to be a runaway, until her car was found within a mile of campus 12 days later. A sharp-eyed police officer spotted her abandoned car--now with Ohio license plates that had been reported stolen from a Richmond resident a few months before.

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