Group proclaims innocence of man named in Brittanee Drexel case

MCCLELLANVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A group is standing behind the man accused of being involved in the disappearance of a New York teen who vanished in Myrtle Beach.

Timothy Taylor was previously named as having a possible connection to the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel. She went missing in April 2009.

National civil rights activists John C. Barnett, founder and president of the group True Healing Under God led the news conference outside Mount Zion AME Church in McClellanville.

Barnett said he visited the jail where Taylor is being held Tuesday night to speak with him. He said he realized Taylor had only one arm. Taylor said he lost the arm in an accident when he was 4 years old.

"But at the end of the day, I think what media has not done is shown that disability, that inability for him to literally grab up a precious female," Barnett said.

Barnett said he is sensitive to the presumed loss of life, referring to Drexel, who FBI agents believe was brought to a McClellanville, raped, killed and then fed to alligators.

He also said the group planned to hold a moment of silence in her honor, but that did not happen during or immediately after the news conference.

But he said there have been numerous cases of people wrongfully accused of a crime and wrongfully incarcerated.

Barnett asked Taylor if he had ever seen an alligator and said Taylor claimed the only time he'd seen one was in a zoo.

"We are still concerned about who killed Miss Brittanee Drexel," Barnett said. "I would like to know. But I don't want them having a witch hunt and just targeting young Afro-American males."

Barnett said Taylor told him that several federal agents said during an interview that if Taylor could help them in the Drexel case, they could make the robbery charge go away.

"The story that was depicted or the story that was told, when you go back to school records, it tells you right there in black and white that my son was in school, never left school that day," Joan Taylor, Taylor's mother, said. "Going back and forth to court, hearing the words of the FBI agent, the reason [Taylor] is being charged again for this robbery is that they feel he knows something about [the Drexel] case."

Barnett said Taylor has already served five years, one in prison and four on probation, for the robbery.

Taylor pleaded guilty on July 12, 2017, to federal charges in an unrelated armed robbery case in Mount Pleasant.

During that court hearing, federal prosecutors said Taylor failed a lie detector test related to the disappearance of Drexel within the past 30 days. Federal prosecutors say they are still working on compiling evidence in the Drexel disappearance.

Taylor's attorney said he and his client met with the FBI three times and told agents Taylor has no idea what happened to Drexel.

During the summer of 2016, an FBI agent testified in open court that Drexel was abducted, gang-raped at a "stash house" in the McClellanville area, shot after trying to escape, and then her body was fed to alligators.

A jailhouse informant accused Taylor and his father, Shaun Taylor, of being directly involved in Drexel's murder, according to the agent's testimony.

Taylor has denied killing Drexel. At present, no one has been charged in her disappearance.

Taylor was scheduled to be sentenced on the armed robbery guilty plea this week, but that hearing has been postponed until Jan. 30.

Barnett said the group will hold rallies before and on the day of the sentencing in support of Taylor.

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