It was just after Labor Day 2005 when Janet Pelasara received the news every parent dreads: her beautiful daughter, Taylor Behl, who had just started her freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, was reported missing from campus. The ensuing search for Behl eventually uncovered a secret life kept hidden from the people who knew her best. Under the screen name "tiabliaj"–jailbait spelled backward–Behl posted her private thoughts on a blog, or online journal. While Behl's family knew her as outgoing and thrilled with college life, Behl wrote that she had drifted far away from her friends, "...and I don't think anyone noticed I was gone."
Behl's body was discovered in a rural area four weeks after her disappearance. Police soon identified the key suspect as Benjamin Fawley, a 38–year–old amateur photographer who had been involved in a sexual relationship with Behl. The pair met briefly through a mutual friend and then communicated via the Internet, often posting comments on each other's blogs. While Behl was flattered that an older man took interest in her, it seems unlikely that she knew much about Fawley's past. On disability because of bipolar disorder, Fawley had a lengthy criminal record that included charges of domestic assault against women. Fawley was indicted for the crime and later claimed that he had accidentally strangled Behl during rough but consensual sex. In August 2006, although still claiming his innocence, Fawley agreed to a plea bargain of 30 years for second–degree murder.
Shocked and devastated that a predator like Fawley had access to her daughter through the Internet, Pelasara is on a crusade to prevent what happened to her child from happening to anyone else. In this compelling cautionary memoir, she reflects on her life since Behl's disappearance, describing in intimate detail how she coped with the discovery of her daughter's online diaries, how she learned of her daughter's killer, and how she endured the investigation that finally put a sexual predator behind bars.
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Janet Pelasara has become an advocate for victims' rights, speaking out on behalf of Parents of Murdered Children, Violence Against Women, and other organizations. She is also working part-time for the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. She lives in Vienna, Virginia.
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