Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Taylor Behl

Clues

Photo: Taylor Behl high school picture
Taylor Behl high school picture

Yes, students disappear from colleges all over the United States every year. Thankfully, most of the reappear with some explanations — stress, need to get away, bad love affair, boredom, etc. Consequently, the police do not get overly excited when a person "disappears" for a few days. And because the VCU campus police had no evidence of foul play, initially they did very little regarding Taylor Behl's disappearance. As the days went by, it was a more difficult decision to stand by. All in all, the VCU police held on to the case for 11 days before turning it over to the much more experienced Richmond Police Department.

Finally, an Amber Alert was issued 11 days after she went missing, resulting in nationwide alerts of various kinds. Still nothing turned up and it wasn't until Sept 16, 2005, the disappearance turned into a criminal investigation.

A major breakthrough occurred on September 17th, when Taylor's white 1997 Ford Escort was found by an off-duty policeman walking his dog. The car, which was discovered in the 500 block of North Mulberry Street in the Fan District, a quiet, well-maintained residential area a couple of miles from her dormitory, was kept under surveillance for 12 hours to see if anyone approached it. After that, the car was turned over to the FBI for forensic analysis.

Taylor's car was discovered on this stretch of North Mulberry Street in Richmond, Virginia.
Taylor's car was discovered on this stretch of
North Mulberry Street in Richmond, Virginia.

The police made a troubling discovery: the car had Ohio license plates that had been stolen almost two months before Taylor disappeared. This strongly suggests that someone with far more sophistication than Taylor was tampering with the car and, perhaps, wanted to use it while police were looking for a car with Virginia tags.

The plates belong to a former Ohio resident who lives in Richmond. This former VCU student reported them stolen two months before Behl disappeared. The theft of license plates from out-of-state cars is not an unusual occurrence.

Canines were brought into the investigation of Taylor's car. While police chief Rodney Monroe would not say what the dogs had discovered, he suggested that they uncovered some promising leads.

Taylor Behl
Taylor Behl

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