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Brittanee Drexel's Remains Found, Suspect Arrested 13 Years After She Vanished
The remains of Brittanee Drexel, a 17-year-old New Yorker who went missing during a trip with friends to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2009, have been found and a known sex offender, Raymond Moody, has been arrested in her death.
A New York teenager mysteriously vanished while vacationing with friends in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 13 years ago, and investigators have now both recovered her remains and believe they’ve found the man responsible.
Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver announced at a press conference Monday that they had arrested Raymond Moody, 62, a man with an “extensive sex offender criminal history” who authorities believe kidnapped and killed 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel.
“What happened to Brittanee? Where did it happen, how did it happen and why did it happen?” Weaver said. “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.”
Drexel’s remains were found in Georgetown County Wednesday after Weaver said authorities were led to the “possible site” where she was buried through “investigative findings and evidence” discovered in the case.
The remains were positively identified by a coroner using dental records and were later confirmed through DNA.
"This is truly a mother's worst nightmare," Brittanee’s mom, Dawn Drexel, told reporters, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. "I am mourning my beautiful daughter today, as I have for the last 13 years. We are much closer to the peace that I have been hoping for."
Drexel disappeared on April 25, 2009 during a spring break trip with her friends. She'd walked more than a mile from her Myrtle Beach hotel to another resort where her friend was staying. She vanished on her way back.
For years, her disappearance remained a mystery.
Investigators now believe that Moody kidnapped and killed Drexel and then buried her body the next day.
Weaver did not provide details on what led authorities to believe the 62-year-old was responsible; however, Moody had been named a person of interest in the case back in 2012. His hotel had previously been searched after investigators discovered that Drexel’s last ping on her phone had been near the area.
Moody is now facing charges of murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with Drexel’s death.
“To the Drexel family, we mourn with you and pray for you as you cope with the tragedies of 13 years ago,” Weaver said Monday. “No one deserves to go through this and our hearts go out to you. Our only hope is that this finding allows your family to grieve properly.”
At the time of her disappearance, Brittanee’s parents had been going through a divorce. She headed to Myrtle Beach from her hometown of Chili, New York — which is just southwest of the upstate city of Rochester — without permission from either of her parents.
“I didn’t know she was going,” Dawn previously told People. “The day she left, she was angry with me because she asked me if she could go and I told her no.”
Dawn told the news outlet she felt uncomfortable with the trip at the time because no parents were going.
“I told her I just felt something was going to happen to her,” she said. “I just felt it.”
Brittanee’s parents are now hoping to find justice for their daughter. Her father, Chad Drexel, said he is hoping Moody will get the death penalty if he’s convicted.
“I’m an eye for eye kind of guy,” he said, according to WHAM. “He’s going to have to answer to someone.”
Moody has an extensive criminal past and was convicted in 1981 of raping an 8-year-old girl in California. After serving time behind bars, he moved back to his hometown in Georgetown County in 2004, the outlet reports.