The remains of Brittanee Drexel were found on May 11 in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Drexel was 17 years old in 2009 when she was reported missing from Myrtle Beach. She was visiting the area from Rochester, New York with some friends. She was last seen on surveillance video leaving the Blue Water Resort, on Ocean Boulevard.
Media had swarmed to Georgetown County last week following the reported arrest of Raymond Moody, previously named a person of interest in Drexel’s disappearance.
Moody has been charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Moody, 62, was charged with obstruction of justice, a charge authorities declined to confirm was related to the Drexel case. But the offense date listed for the charge was April 25, 2009 — the same date Drexel was reported missing — according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division background check.
Numerous media outlets had reported late last week law enforcement officials combing through a wooded area with heavy equipment on the outskirts of Georgetown County — with some reporting human remains were found — but authorities declined to confirm those reports at the time.
The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference on Monday, May 16 to confirm that Drexel’s remains have been found and that Moody was responsible for her disappearance and death.Check out a timeline of the investigation into Brittanee Drexel’s disappearance
“’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 the who is responsible,” said Sheriff Carter Weaver of Georgetown County.
Weaver said that Moody is a sex offender with an extensive criminal background — he previously served about half of a 40-year sentence beginning in 1983 on convictions for criminal sexual conduct with minors in California. Weaver also said that the charges being brought against Moody are murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, all occurring within the jurisdictional limits of Georgetown County.
“Charges against Raymond Moody were made possible through investigative findings and evidence that led us to a possible site were Raymond Moody buried a deceased Brittanee Drexel, on or around April the 26 of 2009,” Weaver said.
The Drexel parents, Dawn and Chad, spoke at the press conference and shared many thanks to the law enforcement agencies involved in the case, but also shared a few words about how their family is about to embark on a new chapter of their grieving process, now knowing what happened to Brittanee.
“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare. I am mourning my beautiful daughter currently and I have been for 13 years. But today, it’s bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure in the case that we have been desperately hoping for,” Dawn Drexel, Brittanee’s mother, said.
Dawn said that she has not strayed from talking about her daughter’s case and that she intends to speak again “at some point.”
Dawn said that a “celebration of life” will be held for her daughter both in Rochester, NY, where the Drexel family lives, and in Myrtle Beach.
Specific details related to exactly how Moody was found to be guilty have yet to be released.
Local and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have long sought and followed leads related to Drexel’s disappearance. They believed they’d made a big break in the case during 2016, when jailhouse informants told investigators they had seen her in a “stash house” in the Georgetown County area being abused as a human trafficking victim.