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Taylor Behl: Internet ‘Friend’ Dumped Her Corpse in a Ditch (FPD CASE VAULT)

Taylor Behl: Internet ‘Friend’ Dumped Her Corpse in a Ditch
Source: ZUMA Press; AP Photo/Richmond Police

Pretty college freshman Taylor Behl picked the wrong guy, Ben Fawley (left), to connect with on social media

Nov. 21 2023, Published 4:04 p.m. ET

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Just two weeks into her freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University, Taylor Behl vanished on Labor Day 2005.

A major hunt launched for the missing 17-year-old led cops to a trail of clues left on the Internet social networking site MySpace — one of the first times lawmen used a "friends" list on the worldwide web to find suspects.

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Benjamin Fawley, a 38-year-old father of two with dark secrets, was one of Taylor's Internet pals. Police learned he and Taylor had a one-night stand before the teen started her college studies.

But the coed told a friend she was disturbed by his "strangeness" and gave him the brush off.

Taylor's mother Janet Pelasara confirmed the story. She said her daughter had sex with Fawley "once out of curiosity" in April, 2005, "and then didn't want anything to do with him." However, they chatted with each other over the Internet.

When Fawley was arrested after his alibi didn't hold up, cops were able to search his computer. They found a photo of Taylor and a shocking collection of child pornography as well as snapshots of former lovers and friends.

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After the case went public, one of Fawley's ex-girlfriends recognized a photo of her family's property that was posted on his website. She called police who searched the land — about 75 miles from Taylor's Richmond college campus. Investigators discovered the teen's decomposing body.

Within days, Fawley broke, as cops revealed they had a college security film showing him leaving Taylor's dorm with the student.

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Taylor Behl: Internet ‘Friend’ Dumped Her Corpse in a Ditch
Source: AP Photo/Buddy Norris, Pool

Investigators at the Virginia property where Taylor's remains were found

The suspect claimed they'd had consensual sex in her car and he accidentally choked her while playing a game of erotic asphyxiation.

He told police he panicked after she died and dumped her body in a shallow ditch off a narrow dirt road tucked behind sheds and farmhouses.

But prosecutors said the case was never about "sex or bondage or erotic asphyxiation."

Simply, "this was a case about murder," said John S. Gill, the county's chief prosecutor.

"This was a girl going off to college with the same hopes, dreams and fears that all kids have," Gill said. "It's a tragedy she was taken in this manner."

Fawley pled guilty to second-degree murder in a deal to have child pornography charges dropped. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

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