A 38-year-old photographer, one of the last people to see missing Virginia Commonwealth University student Taylor Marie Behl, filed a police report hours after he dropped the freshman off at her dorm saying he had been abducted and robbed.
The photographer, Benjamin Fawley, said in the Sept. 6 police report that he was walking in an alley near the downtown campus when he was "struck in the stomach" and "pushed to the ground by someone who put a bag over his head."
Fawley said he was put into a vehicle and driven to an unknown area, where he was "pushed out . . . onto a dirt road," the report said. He was unable to provide more specific information about the attack, and the officer who took the information wrote in the report that he was able to determine that Fawley "should be on medication for bipolar disorder and . . . was intoxicated" before the alleged abduction and robbery.
"It is my belief that the victim was attacked, but due to his mental state, getting any other relevant information is going to prove to be very difficult," the officer wrote.
Fawley was one of the last people to see Behl, 17, before she was reported missing more than two weeks ago, and he has been questioned by police several times since her disappearance. He told police that he walked the Vienna teenager to her dorm about 10 p.m. on Sept. 5, the day she vanished, his attorney said.
Police said they suspect that Behl might have been abducted, and they continued to follow leads yesterday. No one has been charged in her disappearance.
Fawley said in the statement that his camera, tripod and $20 in cash were taken during the attack. The statement was first reported Thursday by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
His attorney, Chris Collins, said yesterday that Behl's disappearance and the alleged abduction are unrelated. "I don't think they have anything to do with each other," Collins said in a telephone interview from his Richmond office.
Collins said his client did not know his assailants but suspects that they are associated with an acquaintance he had an argument with over the rights to photographs. The photographer told police that he was the victim of a similar incident last year and believes the two might be related.
In a Web log entry posted at 2:46 a.m. Sept. 8, Fawley wrote about both attacks. He wrote that the "sun hadn't been up long" when he was accosted two days earlier, although he stated in the police report that it occurred at 5 a.m., which on that morning was nearly two hours before dawn. He also wrote that he suspected that an ex-girlfriend was responsible.
Behl, who was having a romantic relationship with Fawley, according to his attorney and her family, is not mentioned in the blog entry. Fawley and Behl met earlier this year, when Behl went to Richmond to visit the VCU campus, Collins said.
On a second visit in April, the man took photographs of Behl and posted them on his Web site. The photos, which were posted among collages of other girls, were taken down after her disappearance.
Behl, a June graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna, was two weeks into her freshman year when she disappeared. She was last seen about 10 p.m. Labor Day after a late-night dinner at a cafe near her dorm. She met up with Fawley after dinner, Collins said. He lent her a skateboard and walked her to the residence hall. She later left after she found her roommate with a boyfriend.
Her roommate reported her missing about 27 hours later.
Search warrants were served in recent days at Fawley's apartment and at the homes of other acquaintances. Several computers and cameras were taken from Fawley's residence, partly because police were searching for child pornography, according to an affidavit filed in Richmond Circuit Court.
Fawley has numerous misdemeanor convictions, including assault, reckless driving and failure to stop at the scene of an accident, according to court records.