There might be a break in South Carolina in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, a 17-year-old missing New York girl.
Brittanee Drexel was last seen in 2009 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she had gone on spring break without her parents’ knowledge. For years, family and friends have maintained hope that they would learn what happened to the teenager.
On May 13, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown, South Carolina, revealed that it was holding a press conference on Monday “in regards to recent law enforcement activity within Georgetown County.” The release did not give further details. The Democrat & Chronicle has reported that this activity might be related to the Brittanee Drexel case, although that has not been confirmed by authorities.
13WHAM reported that human remains were found in a wooded area near Georgetown, South Carolina. They have not been identified.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Arrest of a Convicted Sex Offender Is Drawing Attention
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the news conference comes on the heels of the arrest of a man named Raymond Moody, who was “once considered a person of interest in Drexel’s 2009 disappearance.”
According to the newspaper, he is a sex offender and searches of property are believed to be connected to his arrest. The newspaper reported that Moody “was stopped by police for a traffic violation in a beach town near Myrtle Beach one day after the teen disappeared” and spent 21 years behind bars for the “1983 abduction and rape case of a 9-year-old California girl.”
Moody is accused of obstruction.
2. Videos Captured the Last Moments of Brittanee Drexel Before She Disappeared
Brittanee’s last days were captured on video, including one taken the day before she disappeared in Myrtle Beach (see above).
This compilation video below shows surveillance video that captured the teenager walking out of the Bluewater Hotel where she was staying on April 25, 2009. She was leaving the hotel to go back to another hotel where she was staying.
Police had said previously that Brittanee went to the Bluewater hotel to see a friend from Rochester, Peter Brozowitz, who was staying there with friends, according to WCSC. She stayed 10 minutes. Police said Brozowitz and his friends were not suspects.
Drexel was never seen alive again.
After she vanished, Drexel’s cellphone pinged the next day “near the South Santee River, between McClellanville and Georgetown.”
3. An FBI Agent Says an Inmate Described What Happened to Brittanee in a ‘Jailhouse Confession’
Theories have emerged din the case before.
The Post & Courier obtained a statement of FBI agent Gerrick Munoz who “gave the first detailed account of what investigators think happened to 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel after she disappeared in 2009.”
The newspaper said it had obtained Munoz’s statement via a federal court transcript, and described a statement Munoz said the FBI obtained from a prison inmate who claimed in a “jailhouse confession” he was there when Brittanee died.
According to the newspaper, the transcript describes an inmate named Taquan Brown telling investigators he saw another man, identified as Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor, who was then 16, “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel” at a “stash house” in Walterboro.
He said that Drexel tried to flee but was caught and pistol whipped, and he heard two shots he assumed was her being killed. “Then the girl’s body was wrapped up and taken away,” the statement said, according to the Post-Courier.
According to WYFF4, the judge “ordered Taylor released on $10,000 bail” and Taylor’s mother, Joan, said the story is false and “craziness.”
4. Investigators Said in 2016 That Brittanee Was Held Against Her Will for Days
In a June 2016 news conference, investigators revealed that the teen was kidnapped and held against her will for days after she disappeared.
At that time, authorities were vague, but they said they had information that people had seen Brittanee for several days after she disappeared. There is a $25,000 being offered for information leading to a conviction in her case.
The Post-Courier says the inmate’s confession came out in a bond hearing on a charge his lawyer says was designed to “pressure him into confessing and helping the government.” The newspaper says the other people named in the statement deny the inmate’s account.
WCSC says police had previously considered human trafficking as a motive.
After shooting Brittanee, the men took her to an alligator-infested swamp and put her body in it, the inmate claimed, according to The Democrat Chronicle.
“Several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators,” said the transcript. Brittanee’s body has never been found.
5. Brittanee Was From New York & Was a High School Student at the Time of Her Disappearance
Brittanee was from Chili, New York, and she had gone to Myrtle Beach for spring break. Drexel was a student at Gates-Chili High School when she disappeared.
She had gone to Myrtle Beach without her parents knowing. Her family had thought she was at a beach in New York State instead. Brittany had gone to Myrtle Beach with three friends, even though her mother had previously warned her that she something might happen to her if she did.