The murder of this young college freshman was an example of a determined mother not to stand by but get out and be proactive. Taylor Behl was born in October 1987 in Vienna, Virginia, and later on in life, she and her mother moved to Richmond in Virginia, to make it easier for her to attend university there. The nightmare began in September 2005 when she vanished from the university campus, one night. The campus Police did look into it but believed she had just took off like young people were prone to do. Her mother did not believe it and stated Taylor always phoned her to let her know if she was going off anywhere. She had not taken any clothes or possessions and her credit card was unused. The mother started a publicity campaign that was not initially welcomed by the University, but she persevered with flyers, bombarding newspapers and local TV stations in order to drum up publicity. This paid off with the media asking questions, which after ten days, brought in an outside Police force, consisting of local, state and federal officers.
The boyfriend of Taylor was questioned and eliminated as a suspect. Soon, another man came into the frame, an amateur photographer Ben Hawley. He was seen with Taylor on the day she vanished but denied any involvement with her disappearance. He failed a polygraph. He also changed his story a number of times. A search of his apartment yielded disturbing evidence when his computer was found with numerous child pornography images on it. Soon, Taylor`s car was found, around a mile and a half away, and taken away for forensic examination. A former girlfriend of Hawley mentioned to Police an abandoned building many miles away that they used to visit for sex. A search of the area found the remains of Taylor. Evidence of bondage was found on her but the Medical Examiner could not discover the actual cause of death.
The evidence against the 38 year old Hawley was that he changed his story six times, was caught on cctv with Taylor, after he claimed he last seen her. She was found in a remote location that he knew very well, and a petrol receipt put him in the general area of the crime scene. Whilst in jail awaiting child porn charges, despite his lawyer`s advice, he decided to tell all to cops. He claimed that Taylor wanted him to choke her, as in the auto-erotic strangling for sexual gratification. He said that he did not kill her, yet later said that he did not intentionally kill her. He either killed her or he did not! His defence lawyer`s strategy was to present her, basically as a slut, in order to totally discredit her reputation. Who says that defence lawyers do not try to get an acquittal in any way possible, rather than defend?
Hawley then entered into a plea bargain with the prosecution, and was sentenced to thirty years for second degree murder, yet incredibly still maintains his innocence. He cannot tell a true and straight story, says he did not kill her and then did, denied everything to do with Taylor and failed a polygraph. As for the child porn, what can you say? What about the bondage he obviously forced on Taylor? This is looked upon as a sign of sexual deviancy, yet he insists he is an innocent man. Full marks to the mother of Taylor as her tenacity eventually brought a major investigation and the apprehension of her killer.