Father and Son Allegedly Implicated in Brittanee Drexel's Deadly Disappearance Have Been Arrested Before
Three men from the same South Carolina family have each allegedly been linked to different crimes against young women – including, with the father and son, the alleged slaying of spring break teen Brittanee Drexel – but they have never been prosecuted, according to court records.
In explosive new court testimony, the FBI, citing informants, implicated Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor and his father, Timothy Shaun Taylor, in Drexel's disappearance and death. Court records show the elder Taylor and his brother, Randall Keith Taylor, have also been arrested in previous abductions or attempted abductions, though the charges were later dropped in both cases.
At the center of it all, now, is what happened to Drexel.
Since 2009, authorities have been trying to figure out exactly that after Drexel, a 17-year-old high school student from upstate New York, vanished during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Drexel had gone on the trip with friends, without her parents' permission, and was last seen on a surveillance video on April 25, 2009, leaving the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard, the resort town's busy main drag.
"All I want is justice for my daughter, Brittanee," her father, Chad Drexel, has told PEOPLE. "I'm begging anyone out there who knows who killed our daughter to please help us bring her remains back home to her family."
Over the years, authorities have revealed little about the investigation, but they said at a June press conference that they believe Drexel was abducted and held against her will for several days in the area of McClellanville, South Carolina, before she was killed.
And then, on Aug. 15, came disturbing new details in an FBI agent's court testimony, revealing more about Drexel's alleged abduction and murder – and who authorities believe may have been involved.
During a federal detention hearing for 25-year-old Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor, of McClellanville, for an unrelated robbery case, FBI agent Gerrick Munoz testified that a prison informant told authorities that in 2009 he saw Taylor allegedly "sexually abusing" Drexel with other men at a "stash house" in the McClellanville area in South Carolina's low country, about an hour south of Myrtle Beach.
The informant, Taquan Brown, said that while he was there, he allegedly saw Drexel try to escape, before he allegedly heard two gunshots, Munoz said.
Brown, who is serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter, said he believes that Taylor's father, 43-year-old Timothy Shaun Taylor, allegedly pulled the trigger on Drexel, Munoz said.
After Drexel was allegedly shot, Brown said her captors allegedly wrapped up her dead body, took it out of the stash house and threw her remains in an alligator pit in a nearby swamp, Munoz alleged.
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Munoz also testified that investigators have received corroborating information about the case, including secondhand information from another jailhouse informant, who claims Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor allegedly picked up Drexel in 2009 in Myrtle Beach and brought her back to the McClellanville area. There, he allegedly "showed her off, introduced her to some other friends that were there," Munoz said.
"They ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation," he alleged.
Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor was in court facing new charges for a 2011 crime. He had received a suspended youth offender sentence and served two years' probation as the getaway driver in a 2011 robbery of a McDonald's in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, according to court records.
He was at the fast food restaurant with two others, who held up the McDonald's, according to records. One of the other two shot the store manager, who sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to the court records.
In June, he was indicted on federal charges of interference of interstate commerce by threat or violence for his involvement in the 2011 robbery.
Through his lawyer, David Aylor, Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor issued a statement Wednesday to PEOPLE, saying, "I had no involvement with anything to do with Brittanee Drexel. I don't know Taquan Brown and I don't know why he would call my name.
"I am being prosecuted again for a crime I already helped them solve and already did my time for, all because some guy in prison is trying to cut a deal. It's not fair to be charged for the same crime twice and that's not how our system is supposed to work."
Aylor said at the August hearing that the government is zeroing in on his client based on testimony from a "jailhouse rat," in an attempt to "squeeze" him into cooperation with their case.
Drexel's father begs to differ. "The evidence the FBI has and the Georgetown law enforcement have is solid evidence and will be out in court soon," he tells PEOPLE.
Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor, he says, "is one piece to this horrible story."
Taylor Family's Previous Run-ins with the Law
In 2010, the elder Taylor was arrested for allegedly attempting to kidnap a 20-year-old woman on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, close to where authorities believe Drexel was taken, according to court records.
The woman had picked him out of a lineup, alleging he was one of three men who pulled up in a pale blue van, grabbed her and tried to throw her in the vehicle, according to court records.
She alleged she fought back and was able to escape.
Police dropped the charges when they found surveillance video showing that the elder Taylor was "40 miles away" at the time of the alleged abduction, his lawyer, Scott Joye, said in a statement at the time.
Calling Drexel's death "tragic," the elder Taylor's new lawyer, Stephen Schmutz of Charleston, South Carolina, said his client "was cleared of the allegations by video evidence."
"He was a suspect and then they found out it was impossible for him to do what [the woman] alleged, so that one had a definitive resolution," Schmutz said
"He is under the glare of the light now because somebody who is serving 25 years in prison has made some accusation about my client.
The elder Taylor had been questioned about Drexel's abduction and murder after she vanished but denied any involvement.
When contacted by PEOPLE, Joan Taylor, Timothy Da'Shaun Taylor's mother and Timothy Shaun Taylor's wife, had no comment.
She had testified in court that her son "is a great kid." She told the Post and Courier that her husband and son had nothing to do with Drexel's disappearance or death, calling the government's accusations "craziness."
Taylor and his son are not the only family members who have been criminal suspects. Court records show that in 2001, Timothy Shaun Taylor's brother, Randall Keith Taylor, was arrested and charged along with four other men for the 1998 abduction and murder of 19-year-old Shannon McConaughey.
Prosecutors later dropped the charges against all five men because of insufficient evidence, according to court records.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney declined to comment on the August testimony or the Drexel case. Calls to the FBI were not returned. The Myrtle Beach police referred all inquiries to the FBI.
The FBI said in June it is hoping other witnesses come forward to corroborate information about Drexel's disappearance. But sources tell PEOPLE they believe that has not yet happened since McClellanville, which has a population of 520, is "very tight knit."
The FBI is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in Drexel's disappearance and death. Anyone with information is asked to call 800-CALL-FBI.
Jimmy Richardson, the solicitor for Horry and Georgetown counties, which includes Myrtle Beach, says he hopes anyone with any kind of information about the case – no matter how small – comes forward.
"They can do it anonymously if they like," he tells PEOPLE.