The many Ben Fawleys
At first, Erin didn't see any danger. There were apparently many different Ben Fawleys, and one version of the man was still fresh in Erin Crabill's mind after Taylor Behl's body was discovered. Erin's memories were perhaps all the more disturbing because they were of someone who could be warm and kind, comforting:
I still remember how disarming he was, he was floppy and goofy. He laughed like Tigger. When I had a fight with my boyfriend Ben was the first person I called, the only person I trusted enough to tell. I drove to his house sobbing. I'd woken him up when I called and I remember turning onto the alley and seeing him standing out there, hair messed up, only wearing his nightshirt and some gym shorts, pacing barefooted... looking down the road for me. I got close and he pulled me out of the car and just held me. He brought me into the house, took my shoes off and got me a drink of water. He wouldn't even let me park my car myself...
Some press accounts of Taylor Behl's life prior to attending VCU in the fall of 2005 emphasized her having lived all over Europe. When a young person like Taylor Behl goes missing and there may be a much older man with a criminal record involved, a natural question arises as to how wise the young woman was to the ways of the world. Taylor's globe-trotting life prior to her last year in high school in Fairfax County, Virginia was proffered to underline a contention by her family and friends that she wasn't some cloistered, overly-protected, naïve teenager not ready for the independence of college living.
In contrast to Taylor Behl, Erin Crabill's own account of her life prior to meeting Ben Fawley painted a portrait of a young woman who might have been even less prepared than Taylor for attention from potentially predatory older men:
Books were the only company I had the entire time I was in Hawaii(...) We didn't move around a lot, but I grew up in rural Hawaii and then we moved back (to Virginia) to be closer to family. My dad was a plumber and he went to Hawaii because of the contracting boom, which collapsed shortly after he got there...
It didn't take long for Erin to sense something in Fawley that unsettled her. "I was puzzled as things started to go downhill. He was making up all this wild and crazy stuff," she said, "Then when he broke in... this is stupid, but it's the best way I could think to put it, I felt this... sense of horror. I kept thinking, this guy is crazy and I didn't know what he was capable of..."
More disturbing to Crabill after Fawley broke into her apartment because he suspected she was sleeping with her male roommate, Jonathan Delano, was Ben's reaction to her fear and concern. Erin said, "(Ben) didn't think that I'd be bothered by the break-in. 'It had nothing to do with you,' (Fawley allegedly said) 'I only talked to Jon. You wouldn't have even known I was there if I didn't tell you. I thought you, of all people would have understood!' (...) that, I think, weirded me out more than anything, that he couldn't even see why I was bothered."
Erin tried to make Ben Fawley understand: "I told him that I didn't feel secure or safe in my home anymore and he said, well I don't see why. It's not like I could ever hurt you." Erin told me that just thinking of those words from Ben "creeped her out."