Ben Fawley: Very Troubled Waters
By Marilyn Bardsley
In the month since Taylor Behl went missing and her body was found, the media, the bloggers and the message boards have put 38-year-old amateur photographer, Ben Fawley, under a microscope. The reasons for the scrutiny are substantial and almost too numerous to list, but these are the most significant:
- Fawley at one time had an intimate relationship with Taylor and maintained a friendship with Taylor when the brief romantic interlude ended.
- Fawley is also one of the last people known to see her alive the night she disappeared, Sept 5.
- Incredibly Fawley told police that around 5 a.m. on Sept 6, he was stumbling around Richmond drunk when unknown assailants abducted him and drove him to an unknown dirt road where he was hit in the stomach and robbed. He claimed an unknown person picked him up and drove him back to his neighborhood.
- Fawley was arrested on 16 counts of possession of child pornography and has a history of mental illness and criminal activities.
- Taylor's body was found at a remote site that Fawley visited and photographed.
If anything, the revelations coming from the sudden scrutiny have made Ben Fawley look even more emotionally disturbed and violent. Justice Magazine reported that in 2003, he choked an ex-girlfriend to the point where she was afraid she would die. He then cut his arms with a knife. and had to go to the hospital. The young woman was afraid for her life and got a restraining order against him.
The following year, Fawley assaulted another girlfriend, Jessica Payton. Payton portrayed him as a kind of Jekyll and Hyde: sometimes a "wonderful person" and sometimes a "person that is full of anger and hatred." Fawley sat in jail for a couple of months for that assault. The "Jekyll and Hyde" behavior is symptomatic of the bipolar disorder from which Fawley suffers.
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation was made by Jonathan Delano to various media sources. Delano shares an apartment with Erin Crabill, a young woman with whom Fawley was obsessed. They had a disagreement over some photos and Erin broke up with him. Fawley posted long rants on his Web sites with his side of the story.
A few weeks after he and Erin split up, Fawley got into Delano's apartment in the middle of the night carrying a hammer and a can of mace, saying that he just wanted to talk. Apparently, Fawley thought that Delano was Erin Crabill's boyfriend.
Fawley refused to leave and launched into a long diatribe about his life. Delano was not amused and filed a criminal trespass complaint. Fawley's brushes with the law are nothing new. He has an extensive rap sheet in Pennsylvania which includes theft, assault and receiving stolen property.
We see a man who cannot control his temper, who surrounds himself with people half his age, who manufactures scary personae to attract girls into the troubled life of a disabled misfit, and who becomes obsessed with the young women who pass briefly through his life and then reject him, when they realize how damaged he is. He cannot accept their rejection and resorts to violent behavior. The question for the Richmond police is whether pretty, intelligent and classy Taylor became a victim of Ben's anger when she tried to take their relationship from intimate to friendship. Could he stand to lose a prize like her?