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‘I Was A Monster’: Killer Of Teen Who Disappeared During Spring Break Trip Is Sentenced To Life In Prison
"I am so glad my daughter was feisty and fought back," Brittanee Drexel's mom said in court while addressing Raymond Moody. "She fought for her life. We know now she scratched the hell out of your face head and neck. You will forever carry the scars of what my daughter did to you and I hope you are haunted by her."
More than a decade after New York teenager Brittanee Drexel mysteriously vanished during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, her killer has been sentenced to life in prison.
Raymond Douglas Moody, 62, pleaded guilty Wednesday to killing Drexel in 2009 and received a life term behind bars. Moody also received 30 years for kidnapping the 17-year-old and another 30 years for raping her, according to ABC News.
"I was a monster, and I took Brittanee Drexel's life," Moody said in court Wednesday, according to WHAM. "I don't have the words to express how horrible I feel and have felt since that day."
Drexel’s mother believed the 17-year-old was staying at a friend’s house in Rochester, New York in April of 2009, but Drexel had secretly traveled to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina without her parents’ permission for a spring break trip with friends.
She vanished while walking back from a friend’s hotel to her own resort on April 25, 2009.
The disappearance remained a mystery for more than a decade until authorities arrested Moody earlier this year.
Moody had long been considered a person of interest in the case after one of his family member’s contacted law enforcement in 2011 and suggested he could be involved; however, it wasn’t until investigators took a new look at cell phone data and surveillance footage that they were able to definitively link him to the crime.
Using cell phone data, investigators were able to determine the exact location that Drexel’s cell phone switched from moving at a walking speed to a speed of 55 mph, suggesting she had gotten into a vehicle, ABC News reports.
Once they determined the location, they were able to match that to surveillance footage from the area and discovered the only vehicle on the road at the time was linked to Moody.
Investigators persuaded Moody’s girlfriend, Angel Vause, to wear a wire to capture a conversation between the pair that helped authorities secure a search warrant for his home, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The search of the property did not lead to any evidence in the case, but did play a role in Moody confessing to the crime.
He allegedly told investigators that he and Vause had picked Drexel up as she walked along the roadway after offering to let her party with them.
He claimed she voluntarily joined them and the trio went to a campsite where they smoked marijuana. After Vause left, Moody said he tried to initiate sexual contact with Drexel, but the teenager resisted and he forcefully raped her before strangling her to death. He wrapped up her body in a blanket and hid it in the nearby bushes, telling his girlfriend when she returned that Drexel had left with her friends.
He told investigators, in an account authorities described as “self-serving,” that he later returned to the area and buried the body.
He led authorities to Drexel’s remains earlier this year.
Drexel’s family members said in court Wednesday that they doubted his version of events and don’t believe the teenager would have ever willingly gone with Moody.
"I am so glad my daughter was feisty and fought back," her mom Dawn Pleckan said, according to the local paper. "She fought for her life. We know now she scratched the hell out of your face head and neck. You will forever carry the scars of what my daughter did to you and I hope you are haunted by her."
Pleckan said she now wears a necklace around her neck with her daughter’s ashes and a photo.
“That’s all I have left,” she said. “That’s all we have left after what you did to her.”
Drexel’s adopted father, Chad Drexel, also addressed the court to describe the devastating effect that her disappearance has had on his life, saying that it had cost him his marriage and took a toll on his health.
“Thirteen years later, I find out the horrible, disgusting and senseless way she was murdered,” he said, according to WHAM. "Every part of my being wants to say and do something about that. But my heart knows that I will not, and Brittanee would not want me to go to jail over that."