Remains of Missing Teen Brittanee Drexel Found in SC, Convicted Sex Offender Charged With Murder: Cops
The remains of the missing teen were found 13 years after she vanished, authorities said this week.
The remains of missing New York teen Brittanee Drexel have finally been found, 13 years after she vanished during spring break in South Carolina, authorities announced this week.
A convicted sex offender has been arrested and charged with kidnapping, raping and murdering her, Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said at a Monday press conference.
Drexel disappeared in April 2009 in Myrtle Beach, a popular resort for students vacationing during the spring school holiday. Brittanee, a 17-year-old high school junior from a Rochester suburb in upstate New York, had begged her parents to let her go on the trip with friends.
They refused, saying there was no adult chaperone and they didn't know all of the students. But Brittanee went anyway, telling her mother she was staying with a friend to cool off after arguing with her, mom Dawn Drexel told People in 2016.
On April 25, 2009, the third day of her trip to Myrtle Beach, she disappeared while walking from a friend's hotel to the Motor Inn where she was staying with friends. The last image of her appeared in security video from her friend's hotel, showing her walking away in shorts, flip-flops and a sleeveless shirt.
"For 13 years we'd been hoping for a different outcome," FBI Special Agent Susan Ferensic said Monday. "In the last week, we confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way, at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets."
Authorities said Brittanee was abducted, sexually assaulted and killed that night, and then dumped the following day in a wooded area about 35 miles south of where she was last seen.
Investigators took no questions at Monday's press conference and did not say what led them to find the teen's body last week, or what evidence connected her death to the suspect.
Raymond Douglas Moody, 62, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, according to online records for the Georgetown County Detention Center. He is being held without bail. Moody was initially arrested May 4 on obstruction of justice charges, but authorities did not say whether that case was related to Drexel's killing.
Moody has an "extensive sex offender history" said Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver, but he did not provide details. Georgetown County online records show Moody was arrested in 2008 and later convicted of indecent public exposure. In 2009, he was arrested and later convicted of failing to register as a sex offender.
“This is truly a mother’s nightmare,” Dawn Drexel said at the news conference. “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 desperately hoping for.”
County solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he hoped Brittanee's parents would be able to recover from their loss as prosecutors prepared their case against Moody.
"There are few things in life worse than losing a child. But one of the things that I believe qualifies for that is losing a child, and not being able to bury that child,” Richardson said. "What we have been able to do is to return a body to Chad and Dawn and hopefully start the process of closure."
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