Going off to college, going away from home for the first time, is heady stuff for a 17-year-old, and pretty, outgoing Taylor Behl was excited. She was thrilled really and well, maybe just a little nervous.
Graduating from Madison High School in the comfortable Washington, D.C., bedroom community of Vienna, Virginia, she had everything to look forward to at Virginia Commonwealth University, an hour and a half from her home in Richmond, Virginia. Not too far from mom and dad if some moral support was necessary. Close enough to visit whenever it seemed right.
Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a nice city with an attractive downtown area, good restaurants, and an allegedly wild campus nightlife. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), an urban school with some 30,000 students, focuses on biotech and life sciences. The sprawling VCU campus dominates the west side of Richmond.
Taylor's mother, Janet Plesara, said "She was quite excited, happy to be on own, and looking forward to the college life."
But something happened in Taylor Behl's life. Something very traumatic.
In the evening of September 5, Labor Day, Taylor had dinner at the Village Cafe at 1001 W. Grace Street with a former boyfriend, then met up with former lover Ben W. Fawley who says that he walked her back to her Gladdings Residence dorm on West Main St. from his apartment at 407 Hancock Street and lent her a skateboard. This was about 10 p.m.
When Taylor got to her dorm, she found that her roommate and roommate's boyfriend were there. In order to give her roommate some privacy, Taylor left them alone together and headed out by herself with only her car keys, cellphone and $40 around 10:30, saying she'd be back in a few hours.
But hours turned into days and Taylor did not return. She was reported missing September 7, 2005.
"I can't imagine that she would meet someone at that time of night and just go out without her purse, without her clothes. She's just not the type to run off ... None of it makes sense," Pelasara said. "We know that she had dinner with a friend, another VCU student at the Village Café."
Since then there has been no activity on Taylor's cell phone and she had no credit cards. None of her family or friends has been contacted.