Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Taylor Behl

Disappeared

After watching the filming of one scene, Ben Fawley confronted Erin Crabill in an empty building and they argued. Fawley wanted her to see him again but she would not. After a heated exchange, Crabill alleges Fawley grabbed her, shook her, and shoved her against a wall. She then slapped him and ran.

Erin Crabill recounted how she felt at the time in an Instant Message exchange:

I think that was one of the moments that really made me start to fear him. It wasn't that he'd hurt me after saying that he could never hurt me not a week before, it wasn't that he'd broken into my house, it was the look in his eyes when he hurt me and the way everything about him totally changed when I hit him. He "snapped back" but neither of us had realized that he'd GONE anywhere.

Crabill saw something she had never seen before in Ben Fawley, something that plagued her after Taylor Behl's body was found on property far too close to a place where she'd once taken Ben Fawley in better times:

Maybe it was the last thing that Taylor saw. I keep being her in my dreams and seeing his eyes as I saw them that one time (...) Blank. It wasn't like there wasn't anything there or that they were empty, but (...) a big wall went up right behind his irises.  If you'd told me now that they'd changed colors when that happened I wouldn't have doubted you. The change was that bad.

An aerial video made by a news outlet the day Taylor Behl's remains were discovered on that rural property too close to Erin Crabill's family home in Mathews County, Virginia, showed a bucolic scene — rusted tin roofs, dirt roads, thatches of tall trees turning gold and crimson with autumns' first brush strokes. It was the kind of place a thoughtful and eclectic young woman who had once lived in rural Hawaii and made friends only with books for a time might take a man she cared for, a man she trusted at the time. It would be quiet there, and in some photos Ben Fawley did indeed take while visiting the area with Erin Crabill, it seemed a peaceful place of silence and deep green shadows.

These photos were among many Fawley posted online, one with a caption that said the scene spoke to him of "happier times."

But as the disappearance of Taylor Behl became an investigation into the death of the young woman Crabill knew and described as "sweet," and outside of cigarettes, "straight-edge," (no drugs, no alcohol), for many close to the case, perhaps in this instance Erin Crabill most of all, those photos acquired new shadows, and the peace and silence of the place became ominous, like the still before a great storm.

Erin Crabill encapsulated the sometimes hurtful slant to the initial mainstream news coverage of this development in the mystery of what happened to Taylor Behl, and Erin's connection to it, with the following words in an e-mail to me:

I slept with and dated the wrong person, my mistake.  My friends and I have done nothing wrong other than being different and believing Ben's lies.

Erin cries during a vigil for Taylor Behl
Erin cries during a vigil for Taylor Behl

In the end, if Ben Fawley was indeed the person who brought Taylor Behl to that quiet and shadowed place late in the night on September 6, 2005, anything Erin Crabill may have done that was wrong in some way was forever eclipsed the moment Taylor Marie Behl lay there in the dark. For Erin Crabill, it is doubtful any wrong she may have ever committed deserved the nightmares from which she may wake in the future, imagining the lost sound of Taylor Behl's cell phone frantically ringing in the empty woods, seeing Taylor's pretty, and still so very young face replaced with her own.

Page 1 — Fawley relationship brief, intense

Page 2 — The many Ben Fawleys

Page 3 — Fawley harasses Erin

Back to Taylor Behl Feature Story

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