She Vanished on Spring Break in 2009. Cops Say They Found Her Body—and Her Killer

Georgetown Sheriff
Georgetown Sheriff

The body of a 17-year-old New York girl who vanished during a 2009 trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has been found and identified—and a registered sex offender who was an early person of interest in the case is charged with kidnapping, raping, and strangling her.

At a news conference Monday, the family of Brittanee Drexel listened as a parade of law enforcement officials discussed the “bittersweet” turn in the cold case but provided no details about how they were able to crack it after so long.

“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare,” Brittanee’s mother, Dawn Pleckan, said. “I am mourning my beautiful daughter today, as I have for the last 13 years.”

The man charged with killing the teen is Raymond Moody, 62, who has a rap sheet that stretches back to 1983. He was arrested May 4 on an obstruction charge and then hit with other counts after investigators dug up Brittanee’s body in Harmony Township, about 40 miles from where she was last seen.

Authorities said they learned of the possible burial site on April 26 and found the remains on a private, gated property on May 11. The victim was identified through dental records and then DNA.

Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said that after the teen went missing, the Drexel family “were promised every resource would be used to find the answer of what happened to Brittanee, where did it happen, how did it happen, and why did it happen.

“The why may never be known or understood, but today this task force can confidently and without hesitation answer the rest of those questions along with who is responsible.”

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock seemed close to tears as she said “every police officer has that one case that frequents their every waking thought. This was that case for many people in our team.

“While we are certainly grateful for being able to bring some closure to Brittanee’s family, Brittanee’s friends, and our community… it is not the final chapter we had been hoping for.”

Moody spent two decades in prison for the sexual assault of a child and was released in 2004. In 2012, he was publicly named as a person of interest after investigators searched a hotel room he had stayed in around the time Brittanee disappeared during her spring break adventure three years earlier.

Another man, Timothy Taylor, was named a person of interest several years later, on the basis of testimony from jailhouse informants. WCIV reports that the FBI says Taylor is no longer a suspect.

“Throughout the investigation we followed multiple leads to wherever they led us and until the conclusion of those leads. That portion of the investigation was concluded, and we are confident that with Moody’s arrest we have the man responsible for Brittanee’s murder,” the FBI said in a statement.

Taylor’s attorney said in a statement that “hopefully the FBI will have the decency to issue a statement clearing Mr. Taylor with the same fanfare as when he was falsely accused.”

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