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S.C. remains ID’d as teen who vanished in 2009; suspect charged

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. - The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office announced that human remains found in the county last week are those of a teenager who disappeared over a decade ago.

Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said Monday at a news conference that Brittanee Drexel’s remains were found May 7 after evidence led them to a possible site.

Drexel, originally from New York, was last seen outside the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach when she was 17.

Weaver also announced that Raymond Moody has been arrested in connection to Drexel’s death.

Raymond Moody has been charged with murder in the death of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared...
Raymond Moody has been charged with murder in the death of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared over a decade ago while visiting Myrtle Beach.((Source: Drexel Family/Georgetown County Detention Center))

Moody is charged with murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct, which Weaver added, all occurred on April 25, 2009, which is the date that Drexel was last seen. He is currently being held at the Georgetown County Detention Center under no bond.

Weaver said that Moody buried Drexel, who was already dead, on April 26, 2009.

Moody was considered a person of interest in Drexel’s disappearance in 2012 but was never arrested in the case. He has been in the Georgetown County Detention Center since May 4 on an obstruction of justice charge.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson told WMBF News that Moody turned himself in. He added that the search for Drexel’s remains took three days with it starting on May 4 and ending on May 7. He said that her body was four feet in the ground.

Georgetown County Coroner Chase Ridgeway was able to identify Drexel through dental records on May 11. The State Law Enforcement Division also performed DNA analysis and confirmed it was Drexel.

‘On the right trail’

Newly released arrest affidavits state that Moody strangled Drexel to death then concealed the evidence of the crime.

Chief Amy Prock of the Myrtle Beach Police Department said it was not the final chapter authorities had been hoping for.

“Every police officer has that one case that requested every waking thought,” she said. “This was that case for many people on our team and several agencies throughout the circuit and throughout the state.”

“While the news today doesn’t bring Brittany back, it does allow the family to take one step closer to getting justice for the actions that occurred to her,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic said.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he was notified on Saturday that the remains were positively identified.

“It was kind of a bittersweet call, but at least at that point, we knew we were on the right trail,” he said. “The accused, Raymond Moody, is in jail. He’s accused of rape, murder and kidnapping, and he’s down there at the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office.”

Richardson praised the team of investigators who he said have “worked tirelessly” to get to Monday’s announcement.

“These guys have been nothing but professional, they never tired and they’ve never waivered,” he said. “They never quit working and they never gave up.”

Dawn Drexel, Brittanee’s mother, spoke briefly at the news conference. She thanked the FBI, the law enforcement agencies who investigated her daughter’s disappearance, the media for covering the story and the many volunteers she said who helped search for answers on their behalf.

“You have all inspired me and the investigators to keep going. I am comforted by everyone who has been a part of our lives in those we have met along the way,” she said. “This is truly a mother’s worse nightmare. I am mourning my beautiful daughter, Brittanee, as I have been for 13 years. But today it’s bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure and the peace that we have been hoping for.”

A timeline of the case

April 25, 2009: Drexel, then 17, was seen for the last time in front of the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. She was visiting the area for spring break, but her mother says she was not aware of where her daughter was.

Her last text was sent to her boyfriend in New York. He called Drexel’s mother after his responding text went unanswered. She then called police.

Investigators pinged Drexel’s phone to a location in Surfside Beach six miles away. It pinged again a couple of hours later at a location near the North Santee River and Highway 17, 46 miles from where she was last seen.

May 2009: A massive search continued at the boat landing where Drexel’s phone last pinged, involving around 50 investigators and K9s.

August 2009: Digital billboards begin appearing across the Grand Strand with information on Drexel. Two of them were on Highway 17 Bypass while the other was along Highway 501 near Forestbrook Road.

June 2010: Drexel’s family is awarded an honorary diploma from Gates Chili High School in New York at her high school class’s graduation.

April 2012: A memorial tree is planted at The Market Common in honor of Drexel. Age-progressed photos are released later that year to make the public aware of how she may have looked at age 21.

August 2016: An FBI agent testifies in open court they were told by a jailhouse informant that Drexel was abducted and gang-raped at a “stash house” in the McClellanville area. The agent also said she was allegedly shot when trying to escape, and her body was then fed to alligators.

Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor, who was arrested years prior in an unrelated armed robbery, was implicated in the case by the informant. Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor, was also accused of being directly involved.

A third person of interest had been identified as Raymond Moody, of Georgetown County. Officials said Moody had a criminal history and served 21 years in prison for charges including forcible rape and kidnapping. He also received a speeding ticket in Surfside Beach the day after Drexel disappeared.

None of the men were charged at the time of her disappearance.

December 2018: The jailhouse informant, Taquon Brown, filed a lawsuit, claiming law enforcement released his statement about the Drexel case to various media outlets. He also claimed it was detrimental to his safety in prison, with an alleged bounty placed on him.

April 2019: A decade after Drexel first disappeared, the FBI was offering a $25,000 reward for information that led to an arrest and conviction in the case.

May 16, 2022: The Georgetown County sheriff announced that human remains that were found in the Harmony Township neighborhood on May 7, 2022 were identified as Drexel. The sheriff also revealed that Moody, who was identified as a person of interest in 2012, has been arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Drexel’s case.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said that Moody turned himself in. Authorities determined that the kidnapping, rape and murder occurred between April 25, 2009 - April 26, 2009.

From reports by WMBF and WCSC