Friday, October 21, 2022

The Disappearance and Murder of Brittanee Drexel

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Brittanee Drexel vanished at the age of 17 on April 25th, 2009. Brittanee is originally from Rochester, New York. She was taking a trip with some new friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for spring break in April of 2009. 

Brittanee’s mother had not granted her permission to go on this trip—she was concerned because these friends were a few years older than Brittanee and Brittanee did not know them very well yet. Still, Brittanee was determined to go and told her mother that she was spending a few nights at a friend's house in Rochester. Instead, she went to Myrtle Beach.

The trip did not go as planned for Brittanee. According to her boyfriend, John Grieco, Brittanee wasn’t getting along very well with the girls on the trip. On April 25th, Brittanee decided to walk to her friend Peter Brozowitz’s hotel room at Blue Water Resort. Peter was an acquaintance of Brittanee’s from NY, and she was getting along much better with him than she was with the girls with whom she was staying. 

Brittanee entering the Blue Water Resort

Brittanee walked about a mile from her hotel to the Blue Water Resort—however, shortly after arriving, one of the girls texted Brittanee and demanded that she come back to their hotel to return a pair of shorts she had borrowed. Surveillance footage shows Brittanee leaving the Blue Water Resort at 8:48 PM.

She texted John as she traveled, expressing how she was annoyed about having to walk back to the hotel. At one point, Brittanee stopped replying. John grew concerned, as they had been constantly texting throughout the trip and it was unusual for Brittanee to stop replying without ending the conversation.

John continued to try to get ahold of her, warning that he was going to call her mom if she did not reply. Hours passed without hearing from Brittanee, and John finally broke down and called Brittanee’s mother, Dawn. Dawn was able to contact the girls Brittanee had traveled with and they were unable to locate her as well. Dawn then contacted Myrtle Beach authorities to report Brittanee missing.

The search for Brittanee.

Investigators had some strong leads to follow at first. Cell phone records revealed that Brittanee’s final phone ping was off of a tower 50 miles from Myrtle Beach, in Georgetown County. A massive search in that area turned up nothing. 

Sex offenders in the Myrtle Beach and Georgetown areas were looked into as well, including registered sex offender Raymond Moody. At that time, though, investigators were unable to find evidence that Moody or any of the other offenders in the area were responsible for Brittanee's disappearance. After that, years passed with no sign of Brittanee.

The investigation takes a turn.

Finally, on June 8th, 2016, the FBI held a press conference, stating that they had finally determined what happened to Brittanee. They announced that Brittanee was taken from Myrtle Beach to the McClellanville area, where she was held for a few days against her will and then was killed. 

When asked how the FBI came to this conclusion, the lead investigator said: “there has been an exhaustive amount of evidence in this case. The investigators are certain that this is what happened and I can’t give you the exact details on that, but we are certain.” The FBI then appealed to anyone in the McClellanville area to come forward with information on Brittanee’s whereabouts.

Years passed since the FBI made this announcement, but Brittanee still remained. McClellanville local Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor was named as a suspect in the case, but he denied all involvement. 

A May 2022 update.

 In May 2022, Brittanee’s remains were found AND an arrest was finally made in her case.

The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office announced on May 16th, 2022, that they arrested a man named Raymond Moody (62). He was charged with kidnapping, rape, and murder in relation to Brittanee’s case.

Back in 2012, investigators searched a hotel room he stayed in at the time of Brittanee’s disappearance. It was never disclosed if they found any evidence at that time, but investigators did say that they did not have enough evidence to formally label him as a suspect.

Investigators turned their attention away from Moody in 2016, after the FBI announced that they believed Brittanee had been kidnapped and held hostage in McClellanville by a group of people associated with Timothy Taylor. However, Taylor was only 16 years-old at the time Brittanee went missing. 

Jailhouse informants told investigators that they saw Brittanee at Taylor’s residence back in April 2009. Taylor adamantly denied any involvement in Brittanee’s disappearance. By the time of Moody's arrest, Taylor was no longer a suspect.

Moody’s arrest warrant states that Moody strangled Brittanee to death on the night she was kidnapped. It is believed she was buried the next day.

Moody pleads guilty. 

In October 2022, Moody pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping, and murdering Brittanee Drexel. 

During the court proceeding, the prosecutor provided more information about what happened on the night Brittanee vanished. It was revealed that Moody's girlfriend Angel Vause was contacted by the FBI in April of 2022 after an informant said she had information about Brittanee's case. Vause agreed to wear a wire while talking to Moody about Brittanee. Around the same time, a search warrant was executed at Moody's home. 

According to reports, investigators did not actually find any evidence during their search. However, on May 5th, 2022, Moody agreed to talk to detectives. During their conversation, Moody finally spoke about what happened on April 25th, 2009.

Moody told detectives that, on that evening, he was driving in Myrtle Beach with Vause when he saw Brittanee walking down the street. He approached her and asked if she wanted to smoke marijuana. By Moody's account, Brittanee got into the vehicle voluntarily. The three of them then went to Moody's campsite in Georgetown County.

At one point in the night, Vause left to take care of a family member. Then, by Moody's account, he made a sexual advance on Brittanee, which she rejected. Moody then raped her, then strangled her to cover up the crime. When Vause later returned, Moody said that Brittanee had been picked up friends.

In reality, Moody had covered her body with a blanket and hid her in the bushes. Later in the night, Moody moved Brittanee's remains to a different location and buried her. After that, Brittanee remained missing for 13 years until Moody finally led investigators to her body.

Moody was sentenced to life in prison. Many of Brittanee's family members made victim impact statements at the sentencing. They expressed that they do not believe Brittanee voluntarily got into Moody's vehicle on the night she disappeared. They believe Moody intended to rape and murder Brittanee. His sentencing marks the end of a dark chapter in their life.

Rest in peace, Brittanee.

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