Brittanee Drexel case back in the news, but investigators stay silent
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The case of a missing New York teenager who vanished 13 years ago made headlines this week.
Multiple sources said this week that new information on the case was expected soon. But those sources did not elaborate on what that new information might be or exactly when to expect it.
Officially, there is no word that investigators are any closer to solving the mystery of what happened to her.
There have been dozens of searches in Georgetown, Horry and Charleston Counties since she vanished.
Drexel was 17 and on spring break when she traveled from New York to Myrtle Beach. She was last seen outside the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.
That was April 25, 2009.
Investigators name person of interest
In February of 2012, a convicted sex offender named Raymond Moody, then 51 years old, was named as a person of interest. Six months earlier, in August of 2011, investigators executed a search warrant at a Georgetown motel room Moody had stayed in around the time of Drexel’s disappearance.
Capt. David Knipes, the spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, said Moody received a traffic ticket in Surfside Beach on April 26, 2009, just one day after Drexel went missing.
Moody is a registered Adult Tier III Offender who was convicted in 1983 of rape by force, kidnapping and lewd act on a child under 14, among other charges.
He was released in June of 2004.
But Moody’s name would come up again a decade later.
FBI delivers grim update but questions remain
In 2016, the FBI announced it believed she had been killed.
FBI official David Thomas announced during a June 8, 2016, news conference that the investigation revealed Drexel had been in the McClellanville area for several days after her last sighting in Myrtle Beach.
“The investigation now is that Brittanee Drexel did leave the Myrtle Beach area. We believe she traveled to this area, around McClellanville and North Charleston, south Georgetown area, and we believe she was killed after that.” he said at the news conference.
The FBI said they have evidence Drexel was held against her will in three places, Georgetown, McClellanville and North Charleston.
McClellanville is the location where investigators say her cell phone pinged on a cell tower.
“Forensic evidence from text messages, from cellphones, all kinds of information that we’ve evaluated,” Myrtle Beach police spokesman Lt. Joey Crosby said in June of 2016. “The information that we have, that we’ve obtained through the course of this investigation, we do feel like she is deceased.”
The FBI announced a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of whoever was responsible for her disappearance and death.
Searches continue with no definitive word
In 2017, FBI agents conducted a new search in Georgetown County, leading to hopes that the case might finally be solved.
But after three days of searching, law enforcement wouldn’t reveal details about the search or what, if anything, they found.
Attorney Brad Conway, who represents Drexel’s mother, Dawn, said the FBI notified Drexel of the search.
But FBI Agent Don Wood wouldn’t confirm at the time that the “investigative activity” was related to the Drexel case.
In 2019, the FBI confirmed it was searching a property in Colleton County and an abandoned trailer on Camp Avenue in the Jacksonboro area. The FBI’s interest in the property came after a jail informant reportedly told investigators he witnessed Drexel being killed in Jacksonboro and said some of her remains were buried there.
Rumors since her disappearance suggested she was taken to a “stash house” in McClellenville where an FBI agent testified in 2021 that the investigation suggested she was sexually assaulted and eventually killed.
But no sign of her was found.
Recent developments spark new speculation
Just last week, Moody, the man named as a person of interest a decade earlier, re-entered the Drexel timeline when investigators arrested him on a charge of obstruction of justice. A magistrate judge set bond Wednesday at $100,000.
Requested court documents have not been received. Investigators have not said whether the charge was related in any way to the Drexel case.
But a background check from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division listed the date of the alleged incident of obstruction as April 25, 2009, the same date Drexel disappeared.
For friends and family of Drexel and those who have followed the case for more than a decade, it might be difficult to believe the date is a mere coincidence.
Those answers could come Monday.
Sheriff Carter Weaver called a news conference for Monday afternoon to discuss “recent law enforcement activity” in Georgetown County.
But for those who have waited for 13 years for answers, the release announcing the news conference did not provide further details about what Weaver would say or what case or cases to which that recent law enforcement activity might be related.
That news conference is set for 2 p.m. in Georgetown County.
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