Brittanee Drexel timeline: Search for cellphone from 2009 eventually led to killer’s confession

It took more than a decade of false leads and dead ends for law enforcement to finally find the true killer of Brittanee Drexel, Raymond Moody.
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 6:57 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 9:36 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - It took more than a decade of false leads and dead ends for law enforcement to finally find the true killer of Brittanee Drexel: Raymond Moody.

The catalyst that led to his eventual confession was a quest to find his girlfriend’s cellphone from 2009.

On April 27, investigators brought Angel Vause back for another interview for the investigation.

She had first spoken to them 11 years prior, but it was this pivotal second interaction that was the domino that set off the chain of events.

During the nearly 3-hour interview, she mentioned that she still had her phone from when the teen disappeared.

This led to a search warrant for their home on Rose Hill Road in Georgetown.

This device was “confirmed to have been in the same area that Drexel’s property was last known to have been at,” an affidavit reads.

The document, written by Senior Investigator Hank Carrison with the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, also states that there was probable cause that “an analysis of said device could yield evidence... that could disprove or corroborate statements and inculpate or exculpate suspects.”

The FBI alongside the sheriff’s office conducted the search during the afternoon of April 29.

They discovered three phones, several thumb drives, SD cards and a disposable camera. Nothing of significance was found on these devices.

However, during this search authorities also spoke with Moody.

Scott Hixon, the Assistant Solicitor of the 15th circuit, says he believes this was a wake-up call for Moody.

On the same day of the search, his lawyer reached out to the authorities to set up an interview with the 62-year-old.

The day prior to the search, when Vause returned home from her interview, documents also show FBI surveillance reported “suspicious activities” at the house.

Moody reportedly was active that night and was seen taking things in and out of cars, as well as appearing to inspect the cars.

Less than a week later, on May 4, he confessed to kidnap, rape and murder.

He then led authorities to where the remains were buried as well as where the crime took place, at Poleyard Landing.

A judge sentenced Moody to life in prison without parole at a hearing on Oct. 19.

Timeline of events of Brittanee Drexel Investigation 2022

(Source: Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office)

  • April 27, 2022: Angel Vause agrees to interview with FBI investigators
  • April 28, 2022: FBI surveillance of the home where Raymond Moody and Vause live reports “suspicious activities” after Vause’s interview
  • April 29, 2022: Judge grants search warrant of Moody/Vause home on Rose Hill road for electronic devices

Moody’s lawyer reached out to law enforcement to set up an interview

  • May 4, 2022: Moody confesses to the murder of Brittanee Drexel and disposal of her remains; Leads investigators to he buried the body in a shallow grave near Pickerel Road

Authorities arrest Moody for obstruction of justice

The 62-year-old also leads investigators to where the rape and murder took place, near Poleyard Landing about 12 miles away from burial site

  • May 9-11, 2022: A judge grants a search warrant to search for the remains; nothing discovered for two days
  • May 11, 2022: Vause delivers a proffer statement in which she agrees to wear a wire and testify against Moody in court; admits to her initial encounter with Drexel

Ernie Merchant, Moody’s ex-cellmate from California and ex-lover, also is interviewed

A human bone is unearthed from the excavation site; 18 hours are spent carefully extracting the remains