by: Ryan DiPentima, Palm Beach Post Updated:
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. - A federal investigation into the 2009 disappearance of a New York teenager has led FBI agents to gator-infested woods in South Carolina.
According to the Post and Courier, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel sneaked away from her home in Rochester, New York, to spend spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Drexel was last seen in security footage at a Myrtle Beach hotel on April 25, 2009.
In 2012, Drexel’s mother told a TV reporter she had learned her daughter had been “miserable” on the trip and had planned to leave anyway on the day she went missing.
After years of minimal progress in the investigation, authorities received a tip from an inmate identified as Taquan Brown, alleging that he learned what happened to Drexel while visiting a so-called “stash house” in McClellanville, according to the Post and Courier.
Brown told investigators in August that Drexel was abducted, gang-raped, shot and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp. Brown also implicated then-16-year-old Timothy Taylor and his father, Shaun Taylor, in the crime, according to authorities.
The FBI told the Post and Courier that “several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators.”
The FBI is searching an area in Georgetown County, S.C., using an excavator to search a wooded area in Foxfire Court. Authorities have not provided any information on what they hope to find in the woods.
No charges have been filed against Taylor, who maintains his innocence.
Investigators said Sunday that they are closer to making an arrest in the case, and are offering a $25,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
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