Brittanee Marie Drexel was born on October 7, 1991 to her mother Dawn and a “man of Turkish descent" in Rochester, New York, which is a city that currently hosts around 200,000 people and is located on Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. And more specifically, Brittanee and her sister Myrissa were raised in the town of Chili, New York, which is a suburb of Rochester. Although their father left the family when Brittanee was very young, her mother Dawn found a man named Chad Drexel, and he raised Brittanee as his own child. Chad had previously been in the military, but after his service ended, they all settled in Chili together. But since birth, Brittanee struggled with a rare eye disorder called Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous in her right eye, and although she had numerous surgeries throughout her young life to save her eye, she was left blind in that eye. Since her right eye would sometimes wander, she often wore blue contacts, which you can see in all photos of her. And Brittanee didn’t let this stop her- she still did all the things she wanted to do, which included playing soccer - a sport she absolutely LOVED. Her mom Dawn stated, “She was full of life. Brittanee’s heart was soccer- she was small, but boy, she could run fast, at lightening speed down the field”. Her mom also stated, “She was just so sweet, had a greta personality. She loved family, she loved all her friends. She was my soccer star- she was really good at it. She was just a genuine, good person”.
Brittanee played soccer at her high school- which was Gates Chili High School in her hometown of Chili. Career-wise though, Brittanee was very interested in pursing nursing, cosmetology, or even modeling- so Brittanee had a LOT of passions in life and many different possibilities as far as her future went. But in 2008, when Brittanee was in her sophomore year (or 10th grade), her parents split up, and this seemed to cause a lot of stress in she and her sisters lives. Her mother Dawn noticed that after their divorce, Brittanee’s grades kinda paid the price, and things got a bit tough for her- especially since she had already struggled with depression. So the following year in 2009, when Brittanee was 17 years old and in her junior year (or 11th grade), she got excited about an upcoming spring break trip to South Carolina- a trip she was going to take with her boyfriend John Grieco and some of her friends. But her mom wasn’t excited about this trip and didn’t support Brittanee going. In fact, Dawn had what she described as a “premonition” that something bad was going to happen during the trip. Dawn also didn’t know these friends that Brittanee wanted to go with, so overall, Dawn just had a really bad feeling. This disagreement caused an argument between Dawn and Brittanee for a couple days- but on April 22, 2009, Brittanee asked her mom if she could go to a friends house on Lake Ontario to just relax from all the stress between them, and Dawn said yes. What Brittanee was actually planning on doing though, was going to South Carolina behind Dawn’s back.
The trip was to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina- which many of you likely know of already, but for those who don’t, it’s a seaside city that is a BIG vacation hub thanks to it’s beachfront boardwalk, historical sights, amusements parks, riverboat cruise, and much more. According to Dawn, when Brittanee had asked to go on the trip, Dawn said, “Brittanee, you’re not going to Myrtle Beach”, to which Brittanee asked, “Why mom? Nothing is going to happen to me”. Dawn explained quote, “There is no parental supervision. I don’t know the kids you’re going with. Something is going to happen”. And I mean this is fair because they’re high schoolers, and it’s not like Mrytle Beach is close- it’s a 13 hour drive or 5-ish hour flight, so this was a big trip. Now of course, Brittanee was only 17 at this time, and in her head, we can only imagine she had all the right intentions to go on this trip. The past year had been very hard on her with everything going on at house, on top of all the usual drama of being a teenager in high school. So all she wanted to do was let loose with her friends for spring break like everyone else- and she probably didn’t understand why her mom wouldn’t let her go, fully believing that everything would be okay and she’d return home safely once the trip was over and get back to school life. But little did she know, her mothers premonition would come true.
Brittanee and her friends drove, meaning it would be a 13 hour trip, so the day after Brittanee left her family home, on Thursday April 23, 2009, the group arrived to the Bar Harbor Hotel in Myrtle Beach- which is a 2-star hotel right by the ocean and amongst all the action that Myrtle Beach has to offer. Since she was on spring break, Dawn wasn’t alarmed when her daughter was out for a few days- nor was she alarmed when Brittanee told her by phone that she was at the beach with friends. The following evening, which was Friday April 24, 2009, Brittanee and friends went out clubbing. According to The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, Dawn later explained quote, “Around noon or 1 o’clock on Saturday April 25, 2009, I asked Brittanee what she was doing and she was like ‘Oh, we’re just at the beach hanging out’. Now, they call our lake back home a beach, it’s Sherlock Beach. I said, ‘What are you doing later? And she says, ‘I’m going to go hang out at my friend’s house and watch movie’s. I said, ‘Ok’. I told her I will call you later cause we were going to a family barbecue that day, and she said, ‘OK mom. I love you, I will see you tomorrow’. Those were her last words to me”.
That day, Myrtle Beach reached a high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit (or 26 degrees Celsius) in the mid-afternoon, so it was a warm and sunny day by the water, making for a very busy Saturday on the pier. According to her boyfriend John (who she had been on and off with for 2 years), Brittanee was having a lot of fun, but he actually couldn’t make it on the trip after all because of work- so Brittanee had just gone with her friends and was texting John throughout her trip. But as the night approached, Brittanee stopped replying to John’s texts- which worried him as a couple hours passed without response. And it worried him SO much, that later that evening, he called Brittanee’s mom to explain where she REALLY was. John called Dawn and stated that Brittanee was in Myrtle Beach and she wasn’t answering his messages- so her mom was SHOCKED beyond belief thinking her daughter was just hanging out at Lake Ontario that day (which was less than a 30 minute drive from their home). Brittanee had NEVER done anything like this, let alone drive hundreds of miles away from home with her friends without informing her mom. So Dawn was just in disbelief.
The last time Brittanee’s friends had seen her was at 8pm on that same evening, which again was Saturday April 25, 2009- 2 hours before John called Dawn Drexel. They were all at the Bar Harbor Motel together when Brittanee said that she was going to make the 1.5 mile walk (or 2.4 km walk) to South Ocean Boulevard to visit an old friend who was staying at the Blue Water Resort. The friend in question was described as a longtime friend and 20-year-old nightclub promoter named Peter Brozowitz, and he lived in Rochester as well. Peter was the friend that she had gone clubbing with the night before alongside HIS friends. Because Peter was staying at the Blue Water Hotel with 4 of his friends, but Brittanee only knew Peter. She had also hung out with the group of guys earlier that Saturday morning when they went to the beach together, so she wasn’t with her own friends too much at all. And by the way, it wasn’t weird that Brittanee was going off to do this by herself, because she had been alone throughout different times of this very short trip. According to her boyfriend John, the friends she was with were known to be into drugs, but Brittanee wasn’t- so they were doing very different things on this trip. But after Brittanee went to the Blue Water Resort on Saturday evening, she wasn’t seen again.
And these weren’t the only people that Brittanee was hanging out with besides her own friend group, but she had also met a young man who was on Spring Break as well- but he was from Illinois. But we’ll talk about him more here in a bit. So after Dawn discovered that Brittanee was in Myrtle Beach, she called her then-ex husband Chad and then called the Rochester police to report Brittanee missing- but they didn’t start looking until the following morning. As the evening went on, Dawn and John also continuously called Brittanee’s cell phone, but she never answered. And by the next morning, Dawn drove down to South Carolina herself to look for her daughter, and so did John Grieco. When Dawn arrived and there was still no sign of her, her mind immediately started wondering if she had somehow ended up in the ocean or if something REALLY bad had happened- because she knew Brittanee would never just walk off or runaway. But she had to prove this to law enforcement, which she did her best to do. After talking to Brittanee’s friends and figuring out that she was last known to be heading to the Blue Water Resort, they pulled security footage from that area in hopes of spotting her and creating more of a timeline.
In the surveillance footage, You can see Brittanee walking into the lobby by herself wearing a black and white tank top, shorts, and flip flops with her purse on her shoulder around 8:30pm. After being upstairs in Peter’s room with his friends on the 6th floor for just about 15 minutes, she is seen leaving the hotel alone at 8:48pm. And this is the last time Brittanee is caught on surveillance footage or seen again. So back to Sunday morning, police questioned Peter Brozowitz and his friends, but weren’t considering any of them suspects. The boys were watching a baseball game and had been doing so all afternoon, but when Brittanee arrived, the game was just ending. According to the boys, the only reason Brittanee stayed such a short amount of time was because her friend Jen (one of the friends she went on the trip with) was giving Brittanee trouble about the fact that Brittanee was apparently wearing her shorts, but Jen wanted to wear them that night. So she basically was making Brittanee walk all the way back to the hotel and give the shorts back, and Brittanee agreed. And just to be clear, it seemed that these “friends” were NOT very nice, because there’s many reports that they were messing with Brittanee a lot or just not being nice to her during this trip, which sucks. After talking to the boys, police headed to Brittanee’s apartment to search it, and they found her clothes there and the other items she had packed for the trip, but NOT her cell phone or her purse…
Since Brittanee didn’t have any of her crucial belongings (toiletries, extra clothes, her hair flat iron- which her mom said she didn’t go ANYWHERE long-term without), it was looking like something had likely happened to her. When Brittanee was walking back to her own hotel on bustling Ocean Boulevard, she was texting her boyfriend John about how miserable she was and how she was already packed to head back home because she was just having a horrible time. She then said her plans were to just go back to her room and relax all night- she didn’t want to go out, she was just done. John replied encouraging her to try to have a good time, but Brittanee never texted him back. Knowing she was walking by herself, John worried and kept reaching out to her over the next couple hours before finally calling Dawn, but the last text he received from her was at 9:15pm, which would have been just minutes before she should have gotten back to her hotel, assuming she went straight there. BUT, to return to her hotel, she would have passed this one street camera that she had passed on the way there, but she didn’t show up on it, meaning she had likely gone missing BEFORE the area of this camera. By the time Brittanee would have been walking home, it would be dark- because the sun set that night in Myrtle Beach at 7:54pm- almost one hour before Brittanee left the Blue Water Hotel. Some of you might be wondering why she would be walking alone at night or why none of the guys had offered to walk with her- but according to Peter, he DID offer to drive her, because he had his car, but she declined. We obviously can’t confirm this, but that’s what he said.
That Sunday, as police continued to search for any trace of Brittanee, the Myrtle Beach police pinged her cell phone, and the last ping was recorded in the early morning hours of that same day- Sunday April 26, 2009. This ping was near the Georgetown Charleston County line - which at the 2 counties that are SOUTH of Myrtle Beach, meaning her phone was one to two counties over, around 50-60 miles (or 80-97 km) from Myrtle Beach. Even more concerning, this area was known to have lots of swamps (that have LOTS of alligators, wild bores, and more), so police just hoped this didn’t mean that she had been killed and dumped in one of them. Unfortunately, it was hard for police and even Brittanee’s family to get any information for the girls that Brittanee had been on the trip with, and these people NEVER responded to Dawn’s calls or texts or talked to her about her missing daughter. And when the friends weren’t in their hotel room, police called their cell phones, only to be told they didn’t know where Brittanee was- so they were really no help at all. And even weirder, the friend group had switched hotels after that Saturday night, but why they did so is still unclear since they aren’t being cooperative- though police DID clear them from the person of interest list shortly after.
Brittanee’s phone pings abruptly stopped on Sunday morning, meaning her phone had either died or been broken. So over the next 11 days, police searched various different areas in Myrtle Beach, but also in the area her phone last pinged in by helicopter, boat, land, on horseback, ATVs, and also with cadaver dogs but to no avail. Let’s go back to the guy from Illinois that we briefly mentioned. In the video, you can see Brittanee sitting at the edge of the bed looking down at her cell phone texting someone, wearing a light yellow tank top and a pair of shorts. It doesn’t seem like she knew this video was being taken- because her side bangs are covering that side of her face, and she IS texting, so kinda a creepy video. The timestamp on this video is 10:36pm on April 24, 2009- which was the evening before she went missing. This is also the evening she went clubbing with Peter and his friends. Now this young Illinois man may seem strange, but he allegedly came forward RIGHT when he learned that Brittanee went missing and was cleared on any suspicion by police. So it seems he and Brittanee just briefly hung out, and that was that. This was a very frustrating investigation, because there were so many people that could have been involved or hiding things, and because it seemed Brittanee just completely vanished, it was hard to say who would have done something. But since Brittanee was seen leaving the Blue Water Hotel by herself and none of the young men followed her, they were eventually ruled out as well. On May 4, so 9 days after Brittanee went missing, police released the hotel footage as well as street cam footage, just hoping for any tips regarding her whereabouts. Then a few days later, on May 11, Dawn and Chad Drexel appeared on the Dr. Phil show to help bring awareness to Brittanee’s story and plead for anyone who had information to come forward. Nearly a month later, on June 6, 2009, Brittanee’s case was featured on America’s Most Wanted, so her story was really getting out there for all to see.
By the end of 2009, police stated that they had 4 potential persons of interest in her case, but they didn’t name them. And at that same time, some campers by the Santee River in Georgetown found a pair of knock-off Prada sunglasses which appeared to match those worn by Brittanee in a photo from her Myrtle Beach trip. These sunglasses were taken into evidence. Months continued to pass, and Brittanee’s family held out hope that answers would come. And actually, Dawn moved to Myrtle Beach so she could be close to the investigation and feel close to Brittanee as well, just knowing in her heart that something had happened to her. In June of 2010, when Brittanee was supposed to graduate from Gates-Chili High School, the school gave Brittanee’s family an honorary diploma for her and she was remembered during the ceremony. That same month, a young woman was kidnapped in Myrtle Beach, so police jumped on it to see if there was any connection with Brittanee’s disappearance. The 20-year-old woman luckily got away from her kidnapper, and she told police that two men jumped out of van and attempted to abduct her- but she was able to elbow one of them in the face and get away. After this, police arrested a 37-year-old man named Timothy Shaun Taylor in connection to her attempted abduction. But after the charges were dropped 5 months later, police didn’t believe there was any connection. However, this isn’t the last time we will hear about Timothy…
The NEXT year, in August of 2011, so about 2 and a half years after Brittanee went missing, the apartment of a man named Raymond Moody was searched in potential connection with Brittanee’s disappearance, but no evidence was found. And then just a couple months later, police searched an ISLAND off the coast of McClellanville, South Carolina (an hour South of Myrtle Beach) because a fisherman had called in with a tip, but no evidence was found here. So although police weren’t finding much, they were DEFINITELY out there doing everything they could. Just a few months later in February of 2012, police had their main person of interest: Raymond Moody, whose apartment they searched back in August. He was a convicted child rapist, but police said though he was their MAIN person of interest, he was also just one of multiple others- because without any trace of Brittanee, it was hard to know exactly what happened to her yet. Just less than 2 YEARS later, skeletal remains were found in a remote area near where Brittanee was last seen, so police immediately wondered if they could be hers. But the following month, in January of 2014, a South Carolina coroner determined that the bones were male, meaning they did not belong to Brittanee.
In June of 2016, the FBI (who had been working in the search for Brittanee) announced that they believed that Brittanee had been the victim of an abduction when she went missing, and that she had likely been taken to the McClellanville area (where her phone was last pinged), held against her will for likely a few days, and then murdered. At this point, it was just over 7 years after Brittanee was last seen, so they also announced that they were offering a $25,000 reward for information regarding her supposed-murder to kinda re-spark interest and hopefully close the case. And this was actually the first time that authorities publicly stated their belief that Brittanee had been killed. About 2 months after this, Timothy Shaun Taylor came back into the picture (remember he was the one who was suspected of trying to abduct a 20-year-old Myrtle Beach woman in 2010). So his SON, Timothy De’Shaun Taylor (who was 26 years old at this time in August of 2016) was thought to have been the man behind Brittanee’s murder. An FBI informant named Taquan Brown explained to the FBI that on April 27, 2009 (2 days after Brittanee went missing), he had gone to a McClellanville “stash house” to pay a past balance to Shaun Taylor (Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor’s dad). While he was in this house, Taquan claims that he saw Timothy (who would have been about 19 at the time) sexually abusing (well, raping) Brittanee along with up to 11 other men. While he was paying Shaun Taylor, he saw Brittanee escape the men and run through the house in an attempt to flee, but Timothy caught up to her, pistol whipped her, and forced her back inside. Then, Taquan said he heard 2 gunshots and assumed Brittanee (whose name he didn’t know at the time) had been killed. He then claims to watch as a wrapped-up body was taken from the house to a nearby swamp, where she was apparently thrown in to the alligators.
Another informant also came forward corroborating Taquan’s statement, and also told the FBI that Timothy Da’Shaun had picked Brittanee up in Myrtle Beach and taken her to the stash house in McClellanville so he could show her off to his buddies and try to sell her into sex trafficking. But because there was such heavy media coverage, Timothy killed Brittanee instead to avoid getting caught. Timothy was arrested on a federal indictment for a charge relating to a 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s, though it seemed their real reason for the charge was to be able to hold him and potentially charge him with 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel’s abduction and murder, though he allegedly WAS the getaway driver in that robbery, so the charge was valid. But his attorney argued that the charge was just based on FBI informant statements and that they didn’t actually hold any weight. When Timothy was questioned regarding Brittanee’s case, he failed his polygraph test, because when asked if he had seen Brittanee after she disappeared AND if he was involved, the examiner determined that he was not telling the truth. This was a huge ordeal that lasted until late 2019, when Timothy was sentenced to time served (almost a year) and then he was let go. But he never confessed or was proven to be involved otherwise.
The problem is that Taquan’s statement DID change. In February of 2019, he stated that he actually saw Brittanee FOUR times since she disappeared- meaning she WASN’T murdered by gunshot on April 27. He told a Rochester news station via telephone that after seeing her that first time, he saw her again over the next month, and the last time he saw her is when she was murdered by gunshot and taken out of the stash house via rug. He said he only knew who she was later that month when he saw news about her disappearance. This time, he said he knew who killed her and it wasn’t Timothy, but instead a man named “Nate” (and that’s all he knew him by). So some of his story is consistent and the way he described the house is the same way it looked when it was previously searched back in 2016, but police couldn’t find this “Nate” person, so there’s no real evidence to back up and of his claims.
Now as we stated in the very beginning of this episode, there have been some major recent developments in this case, because on. May 4, 2022- just a couple weeks before we’re recording this, 62-year-old Raymond Moody was arrested for the murder of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel. Back in 2009, Raymond would have been about 49 years old. So get this: On Sunday April 26, 2009 (the day after Brittanee went missing) Raymond Moody was issued a traffic ticket in Surfside Beach- which is just 8 miles from Myrtle Beach. At this time, Raymond was reportedly living in a motel in Georgetown, South Carolina- an hour south of Myrtle Beach. Interestingly enough, when Moody was questioned, he claimed he was out of town that weekend, but this ticket helps prove he’s lying. And we talked about this man earlier because police searched his apartment back in 2011!!! Now, a little about this POS before we explain what he told police and how her body was found. So he lived in Georgetown, South Carolina (about 50 minutes drive South of Myrtle Beach)- and remember, her phone last pinged in Georgetown County on April 26, 2009. The reason he was originally a person of interest was because of his traffic violation (so they knew he was in the Myrtle Beach area that weekend) mixed with the fact that he was a sex offender. AND of course the fact that her last cell phone ping was just 8 miles from his Georgetown residence. But other than this, police haven’t released what else connected Raymond to her case.
Since we’ve now stated twice that he was a sex offender, you’re probably wondering about that. So he previously served 21 years in prison for sexually assaulting SEVEN girls in California- one of which he kidnapped and raped. And all these girls were between the ages of 5 and 17. In 2015 (so 7 YEARS before his 2022 arrest), one of his victims from 1983 (who was 8 years old at the time) spoke publicly. She said, “My biggest fear is that he’ll do it again. You should never get a second chance to hurt a child. He should have never been released. Why would the court even take a chance with our children?”. And a bit more on her particular assault. When she was 8, she was walking alone to a friends house in Vallejo, California when Raymond Moody (who would have been around 23 years old) forced her into his car and raped her. Luckily, she was able to escape before he could likely murder her, and the way she was able to later identify him was because of his green military sticker that was on his car.
At no real surprise, it’s come out that Raymond had a rough childhood due to his abusive father and his mother who had an alcohol addiction. He eventually joined the military, got married, had three children. But he and his wife later divorced when he started dating other women because he wanted to “party”. But back to the present day now that we know what a disgusting piece of garbage this guy is. On May 4, 2022, Raymond Moody had been arrested on an obstruction of justice charge, and this was directly connected to Brittanee’s case. From the reports we read (those the news is still very fresh), police stayed on Raymond over the years thinking he could be connected to her case. And because he said previously that he was NOT in Myrtle Beach when Brittanee went missing (which was proved to be a lie), he was arrested for obstruction of justice. According to the most recent reports we’ve read, Raymond Moody confessed to kidnapping Brittanee on the evening of Saturday April 25, 2009 while she was walking back to her hotel. He told police that following her abduction, he raped her at the Santee River (near where her sunglasses were found back in 2009), and then strangled her to death (manually) before burying her body the next day (the day he got the traffic ticket) in the woods in Georgetown County- the very area that law enforcement, volunteers, and Brittanee’s family spent so much time searching. After his confession, he told police where he body was located, and this a search commenced.
Between this and an apparent “flurry” of tips, police received a search warrant to Raymond’s gated private property on Rose Hill Rd in Georgetown, South Carolina to search for Brittanee’s remains. On May 11, 2022, human remains were found buried in a wooded area nearby on Old Town Avenue. After the body was uncovered, DNA testing and dental records confirmed that it was indeed Brittanee. And after her remains were identified is when he was officially charged with the criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and murder of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel. Although he was previously being held on a $100,000 bond, he is currently sitting in a Georgetown County jail without bond. Like we said, because this is so recent, there are some conflicting reports. All our sources say that Raymond was arrested on obstruction of justice charges, but the most recent say that Raymond went to his attorney and turned himself in. So we’re not sure if he turned himself in before or after his arrest- like it’s possible police were on to him and arrested him for lying about his whereabouts that weekend, and then he spoke to his attorney and just said he wanted to come clean about being responsible for her murder. But the lead prosecutor on this case stated, “He basically turned himself in. He went over to his lawyers office and from that point, he was taken into custody”. So take that as you will!
And this really just makes me worry about who Taquan claims he saw being assaulted at the stash house- because if he’s being truthful about what he saw, that was some other young woman and that’s terrifying. Because we now know that was NOT Brittanee.
The “why” in Brittanee’s case has yet to be explained, as Raymond only confessed to killing her without much detail as to why he did it. But considering he’s s sexual predator, we can assume he potentially saw her walking and either forced her into his car or offered her a ride. But knowing he was 42 at the time, she wasn’t too far from her hotel, and she had allegedly declined a ride from Peter minutes earlier, it’s hard for us to believe she would just get into Raymond’s car. But considering she was on a busy road on Saturday night also makes it hard to believe Raymond could have forced her into his car without being seen. This is definitely something police are hoping to uncover, and we anticipate more answers in the future.
As we can all imagine, this is an incredibly tough time for Brittanee’s family. For almost exactly 13 years, they didn’t know whether Brittanee had been sold into sex trafficking, if she was raped by numerous men while being held in that stash house, if she was still out there alive somewhere, or what. And how painful it must be to know that police first suspected Raymond back in 2011, and that they could have possibly known all those years ago what happened to Brittanee, but they didn’t have enough on him. Dawn said just this past week quote, “This is truly a mother’s worst 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 desperately hoping for”. She also thanked law enforcement for their efforts over the years and announced that she and the family planned to hold a celebration of life for Brittanee in New York AND in Myrtle Beach sometime soon. FBI agent Susan Ferensic (yes that’s her name) stated quote, “We’ve confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way at the hands of a horrible criminal walking our streets.” The FBI also made this statement: “Throughout the investigation, law enforcement followed multiple leads to wherever they led us based on the information we had at the time. We have an obligation to follow leads to their conclusion. The person we believe is responsible for Brittanee’s murder has been charged”. Their focus now, is to seek justice, and learn everything their is to know about what happened to 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel, and send Raymond Moody to prison for the rest of his life for what he did…