Deputies: Man confessed to strangling, killing Brittanee Drexel

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 8:02 AM EDT|Updated: May. 17, 2022 at 12:58 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the man charged in the death of Brittanee Drexel confessed to the crime.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Jason Lesley confirmed that Raymond Moody admitted rape, kidnapping and murder of the New York teen. He was arrested on May 4 on a count of obstruction of justice. He has since been charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and murder in Drexel’s death on April 25, 2009.

Arrest affidavits released late Monday afternoon state that a man strangled Brittanee Drexel to death then concealed the evidence of the crime.

Authorities say that Moody strangled Drexel on the same night that he kidnapped her.

The release of the affidavits followed on the heels of the sheriff’s office announcing that the remains of the 17-year-old girl from New York had been found 13 years after she disappeared.

Sheriff Carter Weaver confirmed the discovery of the remains of Brittanee Drexel at a news conference Monday. He said from the start of the investigation, he promised her parents they would use every resource to find the answer of what happened to her, where it happened, how it happened and why.

“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?’” Weaver said.

Drexel’s remains were found on Wednesday of last week, Weaver said.

Moody was named in 2012 as a person of interest in her disappearance and is not a stranger to law enforcement. He served more the 20 years in a California prison for some similar charges including rape and kidnapping of a child under 14.

Raymond Moody faces charges of murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct,...
Raymond Moody faces charges of murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct, investigators say.(Georgetown County Sheriff's Office)

“Charges against Raymond Moody were made possible through investigative findings and evidence that led us to a possible site where Raymond Moody buried a deceased Brittanee Drexel on or about April 26, 2009,” Weaver said.

Her remains were identified through dental records, he said. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s DNA analysis corroborated the coroner’s findings.

“To the Drexel family, we mourn with you and pray for you as you cope with the tragedy of 13 years ago,” Weaver said. “No one deserves to go through this and our hearts go out to you. Our only hope is that this finding allows your family to grieve properly for Brittanee.”

Chief Amy Prock of the Myrtle Beach Police department said it was not the final chapter they had been hoping for.

“Every police officer has that one case that requested every waking thought,” she said. “This was that case for many people on our team and several agencies throughout the circuit and throughout the state.”

“While the news today doesn’t bring Brittany back, it does allow the family to take one step closer to getting justice for the actions that occurred to her,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Susan Ferensic said.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he was notified on Saturday that the remains were positively identified.

“It was kind of a bittersweet call, but at least at that point, we knew we were on the right trail,” he said. “The accused, Raymond Moody, is in jail. He’s accused of rape, murder and kidnapping, and he’s down there at the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office.”

Richardson praised the team of investigators who he said have “worked tirelessly” to get to Monday’s announcement.

“These guys have been nothing but professional, they never tired and they’ve never waivered,” he said. “They never quit working and they never gave up.”

Drexel’s mother: ‘It was truly a mother’s worst nightmare’

Brittanee Drexel vanished from Myrtle Beach on April 25, 2009. Authorities confirmed her...
Brittanee Drexel vanished from Myrtle Beach on April 25, 2009. Authorities confirmed her remains were discovered in Georgetown County last Wednesday.

Dawn Drexel, Brittanee’s mother, spoke briefly at the news conference. She thanked the FBI, the law enforcement agencies who investigated her daughter’s disappearance, the media for covering the story and the many volunteers she said who helped search for answers on their behalf.

“You have all inspired me and the investigators to keep going. I am comforted by everyone who has been a part of our lives in those we have met along the way,” she said. “This is truly a mother’s worse nightmare. I am mourning my beautiful daughter, Brittanee, as I have been for 13 years. But today it’s bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure and the peace that we have been hoping for.”

She said she is slowly processing everything that has come to light.

She declined to take questions but said they do intent to speak at some point in the future. In the meantime, she asked for privacy for her family.

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter,” she said. “The search for Brittanee is now a pursuit of Brittanee’s justice.”

Celebrations of life will be held in Rochester, New York, and Myrtle Beach, she said, adding that dates would be announced once plans were finalized.

Questions about investigation remain unanswered

Authorities did not say how information about the location of Drexel’s remains or Moody’s alleged direct involvement came to light.

Multiple sources reported late last week that remains had been discovered in a wooded area of the county. But the sources did not provide a specific location of that discovery.

The sheriff’s office did not confirm the discovery of remains until Monday’s news conference.

The news conference also comes on the heels of news that Moody had been arrested on May 4 on a charge of obstruction of justice. Investigators have also not released details on what led to the charge against Moody.

A SLED background check last week indicated the date of the alleged obstruction offense occurred on April 25, 2009, the same date Drexel vanished.

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