Behrman's Parents Testify About Woman's Love Of Cycling

Published: Oct. 18, 2006 at 9:04 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 25, 2006 at 5:10 PM EDT
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(MARTINSVILLE, Ind.) -- The parents of slain Indiana University student Jill Behrman on Wednesday recalled their daughter's love of cycling and the fear that swept over them when she disappeared during a ride six years ago.

Their testimony came during the trial of John Myers II, 31, of Ellettsville, who has pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of 19-year-old Behrman. She died from being shot in the back of her head at close range with a shotgun, authorities have said.

Her father, Eric Behrman, recalled the first time young Jill rode down a sidewalk on her brother's bicycle.

"I held her up and balanced her, holding the back of the seat," Behrman said. "I can't forget Jill's smile as she took off down the street."

The hilly Bloomington area provided a good training ground for the young cyclist, and she often was at the front of the pack during many organized bike rides. However, Behrman said he and his wife, Marilyn, feared for her safety, particularly when she rode alone.

"When we discussed this with her comments would be, 'You know other people don't ride as fast' and 'Other girls ride a lot slower or ride just to pedal,"' the father said.

Behrman recalled the night his daughter did not return home from her ride on May 31, 2000.

"I got in my car and started driving routes I knew Jill might have ridden, anywhere. I ended up driving all night," he testified.

"She never rode after dark," Marilyn Behrman testified later. The last time she saw her daughter, Jill was in the kitchen getting cereal for breakfast as her mother left for work.

The Behrmans filed a missing person's report and distributed flyers on her disappearance. They started a reward fund that grew to $100,000, but no credible information came in.

"We searched, and we searched and we searched," Eric Behrman said, his lips pursed and grim. "I spent a month searching."

Her skeletal remains were found in neighboring Morgan County in March 2003.

Prosecutors will argue Myers abducted Jill Behrman during that final ride nearly three years earlier.

Defense attorneys, however, have said prosecutors have no physical evidence to link her to their client. They also have said Myers could not have committed the crime because on the day Behrman vanished he was home making a series of telephone calls for over 90 minutes until 10:45 a.m. - the time defense attorneys claim her abandoned bicycle was first spotted about a mile from Myers' home.

The jury was expected to listen to weeks of testimony.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)