Jailhouse tips, searches and vigils: A timeline of Brittanee Drexel’s SC disappearance

·5 min read

The 13-year mystery surrounding Brittanee Drexel’s disappearance appears to have finally reached a conclusion after law enforcement discovered her remains.

The Rochester, New York teenager went missing in 2009 while visiting Myrtle Beach with friends, and local and federal law enforcement have been chasing lead after lead in the years since.

Her remains were found last week in Georgetown County and positively identified via dental records, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday at a press conference.

Raymond Moody, 62, has been arrested and charged with murder, kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice in relation to the case.

Here’s a timeline of major events related to the investigation of Drexel’s disappearance:

April 25-26, 2009: Brittanee Drexel, 17, is last seen on video surveillance April 25 leaving the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard. She was on a spring break trip with friends without her parents’ knowledge. A friend reported her missing early the next morning after not hearing from her for several hours.

May 8, 2009: Just weeks after Drexel was reported missing, friends and family come together to hold a vigil on the beach as Georgetown and Charleston officials prepare to search a wooded area based on where the teen’s phone gave off its last known signal.

Brittanee Drexel
Brittanee Drexel

October 17, 2009: About six months after Drexel was reported missing, nearly 100 trained volunteers from law enforcement agencies throughout the Carolinas and Florida spent about 12 hours searching throughout various areas around Georgetown County using Cadaver-sniffing dogs, but nothing was found.

Persons of interest identified, searches continue

April 2010: About a year after her daughter was reported missing, Dawn Drexel tells local media that Myrtle Beach police informed her they’ve identified three or four persons of interest related to the case. A Georgetown County Sheriff’s deputy even suggested they may be close to making an arrest. The investigation had grown at this point to include a private investigator.

January 29, 2011: Another large search party consisting of more than 150 people combed through a three-mile stretch in Charleston County looking for clues related to Drexel’s disappearance. The search didn’t turn up anything of significance, but police later said the attention spurred a new round of tips in the case.

August 1, 2011: Authorities spent nearly four hours combing through a room at the Sunset Lodge in Georgetown County in execution of a search warrant for evidence in the Drexel case. Police declined at the time to give details related to the search, but later revealed that the room was being used by Raymond Moody, previously convicted of criminal sexual conduct with minors in California. Moody was also named a person of interest in the case.

April 25, 2014: The five-year anniversary of Drexel’s disappearance is marked by another vigil, as family and friends remained hopeful despite no arrests or clear evidence pointing to where she might have done. Another law enforcement search was conducted in the days following the anniversary with no clues found

Jailhouse informants lead law enforcement to pressure suspect

June 8, 2016: The FBI holds a press conference revealing that they are now investigating Drexel’s disappearance as a murder. They believe she was held against her will in McClellanville before being killed. They also announced a $25,000 reward was being offered for anyone who could give them information leading to Drexel’s killer.

July 2016: Timothy Taylor was arrested on federal charges related to a 2011 armed robbery that he had already been convicted of at the state level. His attorney alleged the charges were an attempt to squeeze information out of Taylor related to Drexel’s disappearance after jailhouse informants told authorities they had seen Taylor and others sexually assaulting her at a “stash house” in McClellanville. One of the informants alleged Drexel was killed while trying to escape, and her body was dumped in an alligator pit. Taylor’s attorney alleged his client was in school when the informants allegedly saw him commit these crimes.

March 2017: FBI agents and other law enforcement conducted extensive searches through wooded areas and alligator pits in and around Georgetown County. They wouldn’t say what, if anything, they found during the search, but noted that the activity helped them move the case forward.

May 25, 2019: An abandoned house in McClellanville on property belonging to the Taylor family burned down. Fire officials explained that there were no apparent signs of arson, though there was no power at the house at the time. FBI officials declined to say whether the house was the alleged stash house where informants alleged they last saw Drexel.

Remains found, arrest made

May 4, 2022: Raymond Moody, 62, was arrested and booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center on obstruction of justice charges. Police declined to answer questions about whether his arrest was linked to Drexel, but the date of offense was later revealed as the day she was reported missing.

Raymond Moody was arrest and charged in the connection to the death of Brittanee Drexel more than 13 years ago.
Raymond Moody was arrest and charged in the connection to the death of Brittanee Drexel more than 13 years ago.

May 11, 2022: Authorities searching through a wooded area on the outskirts of Georgetown County reportedly discovered human remains, later confirmed through dental records to be Drexel.

May 16, 2022: Numerous law enforcement agencies converge in Georgetown County for a press conference to reveal that they’ve found Drexel’s remains and have charged Moody with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct. Warrants released the same day allege he strangled her to death. It is the first and only arrest directly linked to Drexel’s disappearance.