On October 2, another added: “I know I didn’t know you that well, but I want you home too, Taylor. We all miss you . . . Be safe.”
More than 20 messages had wished Behl a safe return when police found her body in a shallow grave on October 5. At that point, the tone of the comments shifted dramatically.
On October 5, a user posted: “i dont know what to say. :( we all love you, taylor.”
On October8, another posted: “I love you more than life. I’m still keeping that ugly sweater.”
On October 9, someone else posted, in part: “Taylor, i don’t know how effective this whole ‘talking to the dead through myspace’ thing works, but it’s the only closure I’m going to get really, since i cant see your face, or hear your voice in the physical.”
MySpace users who weren’t connected to Behl as friends couldn’t affix messages to her page, so they sent a willing few of Behl’s ninetysome collection of friends notes to put up on their behalf. Natalie from California wrote, in part, “i'm sorry about ur friend taylor.. i was watching *A Current Affiar* one night and i heard she was on myspace and she was missing and now she has died.” Amanda Doherty, a 23-year-old who is also from California, congratulated Behl on her newfound celebrity: “you touched lives all the way to cali without even saying a word to me and the hundreds of people who watched the tv special dedicated to you … just want to let you know your a star @ 17.”Someone sent a picture of Taylor embraced by an angel. Another sent Kenny Chesney lyrics.
A few people registered their own memorial sites so that anyone who wanted to could leave Behl messages without a liaison. “I wanted to set up a page [where] they could comment freely with their respects,” writes Kristen Foos, a 22-year-old Virginian who maintains both “Remembering Taylor” and “Remembering JonBenét [Ramsey]” tribute pages. “Their story was meant to continue, but it isn’t. But they still deserve to shine.”
On the day of Behl’s funeral, Ben Fawley, a 38-year-old amateur photographer with whom Behl had been involved and who had already been in custody on charges of child-pornography possession found when police seized his computer in the Behl investigation, admitted involvement in her death. He claimed that he’d accidentally strangled her during sex. Fawley is charged with first-degree murder, and his trial is set to begin in May.
Behl’s last log-in date on her profile is the day before she vanished. “It’s definitely chilling,” says Foos. “[T]aylor logged into MySpace September 4, 2005, having no clue it was her last day.”
Corrine, one of Behl’s only friends to respond via MySpace to an interview inquiry, explains the importance of her friend’s extant profile: “It’s stupid, but it’s all some people have left of her.”
A page gets infamous
A tone-shifting time-out for all the local evening-news anchors and frantic parents out there: this story is not about how MySpace kills people. With a membership of nearly 64 million — four million more than the population of France — people inevitably die.