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Following the arrest of a convicted sex offender accused of murdering 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel in 2009, one of his prior victims is speaking out.
Kerri Harding, 48, was just 8 in 1983 when a man abducted her from a playground in Vallejo, California, she told the U.S. Sun. Raymond Moody then assaulted and raped her during an hours-long ordeal that left her thinking she was going to die.
For Harding, hearing the news that Moody was recently arrested in connection with the death of Brittanee Drexel is bringing haunting memories to the surface.
“It’s really hard seeing his name again,” said Harding. “It definitely digs up a lot of old demons.”
Moody, 62, was charged earlier this month with murdering Brittanee Drexel in 2009. The Chili, New York teenager had defied her parents to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with friends for spring break when she disappeared while walking between resorts.
Her disappearance led to many theories over the years — police and FBI agents had openly accused, but never arrested, a disabled Black teenager and his father in the killings as recently as 2016, according to People — until Moody reportedly confessed and led authorities to Drexel’s buried body in a wooded area in Georgetown County earlier this month, according to CBS Myrtle Beach affiliate WBTW.
Warrants issued by the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office say Moody allegedly sexually assaulted Drexel and strangled her to death on or around April 25, 2009.
South Carolina authorities said Moody has an “extensive sex offender criminal history,” including the rape of an 8-year-old child in California.
That child would be Kerri Harding, who was scheduled to meet a friend at the playground before Moody abducted her in the winter of 1983.
“Everything happened in the blink of an eye,” Harding told the Sun. “He had me in his car and had driven away within seconds.”
Moody forced Harding onto the floor of the passenger’s seat, claiming he was going to take her to the police station because she shouldn’t have been alone in the park. Instead, Moody parked his car at a construction site, just miles from her home.
Moody allegedly told the child, “Let’s get into the back; we’re going to screw,” according to Harding.
“I was 8. I didn’t even know what he meant,” said Harding. “So at that point, I didn’t realize what was going to happen until it happened. And it was horrific.”
Throughout the hours-long ordeal, Harding kept requesting to go to the bathroom, hoping to find the opportunity to make her escape.
“I for sure thought he was going to kill me,” Harding recounted.
Moody allowed her to urinate until he saw Harding bleeding, prompting him to release his grasp from the child. Harding made a mad dash toward a couple touring a nearby property with their realtor as Moody sped away in the car.
“I feel like had I not managed to persuade him to let me out of his car to go to the bathroom, I never would have made it out alive,” Harding continued.
Despite her family’s and law enforcement’s efforts, all leads in finding who assaulted Harding were running dry until Harding remembered that there was a bumper sticker on Moody’s car, three months after the attack.
Moody was arrested the following day.
Harding was one of seven girls in Northern California who Moody was eventually convicted of raping, according to NBC Rochester affiliate WHEC.
Moody was sentenced to serve more than 40 years in the California prison system after he was convicted on multiple sex abuse charges, including sodomy of a child under the age of 14 while inflicting great bodily injury, rape and assault, according to ABC Myrtle Beach affiliate WPDE.
He was released in 2004 after serving 21 years of his sentence and released from parole in 2007 before returning to his hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina.
Harding lamented the fact that Moody only served about half his sentence, according to the Sun.
“He should have never been given the chance to hurt another child,” said Harding. “He’s a serial rapist who is clearly not going to stop doing it.”
Moody was supposed to register as a sex offender in South Carolina in 2010 but hadn’t, according to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.
“How many chances is he going to get to hurt children?” Harding told the Sun. “We need to put this monster where he belongs. In a grave.”
“That’s what hurts me so deeply because Brittanee would still be with us today if he was kept behind bars,” she added.
For now, Moody sits at the Georgetown County Detention Center on charges of murder, criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and obstructing justice, jail records show.
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