GEORGETOWN, S.C. — The man accused of kidnapping and murdering 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared while on spring break at Myrtle Beach in 2009, pleaded guilty to his charges in court Wednesday, Charleston’s WCIV reports. He was sentenced to 30 years each concurrently for rape and kidnapping, and life for murder.
Drexel was last seen in April 2009 when she was walking between hotels at the beach. Her boyfriend, who stayed home in Rochester, New York, became concerned when she stopped answering texts. In May, 13 years later, a man was charged with murder, kidnapping and rape in connection to Drexel’s disappearance, authorities said.
Drexel was kidnapped that night by Raymond Douglas Moody, who raped and killed her before burying her body the next day in the woods, Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said on May 16 at a news conference.
Moody, 62, entered a guilty plea Wednesday morning in Georgetown. Judge Ferrell Cothran Jr. sentenced him to 30 years each concurrently for rape and kidnapping, and life for murder, WCIV reported.
Moody’s attorney said he wanted to forego all other trial proceedings, plead guilty and get the process done quickly, WCIV reports.
Drexel’s body was found on May 11 in Georgetown County, about 35 miles down the coast from where she disappeared. The discovery came after a flurry of tips and investigation that included Moody’s arrest May 4 on an obstruction of justice charge.
In court Wednesday, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said the state intends to pursue life imprisonment without parole for Moody. He pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, forcible kidnapping, and murder by means of manual strangulating, WCIV reported. The state will be dropping its previous indictment on an obstruction of justice charge, according to WCIV.
Suspect’s confession reveals new details about the case
According to WCIV, law enforcement said they got a major tip in 2011 from a family member to look into Moody, citing his criminal history that included serving time in prison for raping underage girls.
In May, Sheriff Weaver said Moody has an “extensive sex offender history.” Moody is on South Carolina’s sex offender registry for 1983 convictions in California for sodomy by force of someone under 14 and kidnapping, according to State Law Enforcement Division Records.
According to WCIV, he was charged with similar crimes in seven other cases. He only served half of his 40-year sentence, WCIV reports.
WCIV reports authorities took out search warrants in 2011 and interviewed Moody’s girlfriend, Angel Vause, but were not able to find evidence.
The FBI realized the lead about Timothy Taylor’s involvement wasn’t true, so they decided to start over with their investigation by reexamining cell phone data, WCIV reported. In 2019 and 2020, they overlaid the phone information with other data to track Drexel’s location and speed.
From this information, the FBI discovered Drexel went from walking to moving at 55 mph at 9:06 p.m. on April 25, 2009, which indicated she was in a vehicle, WCIV reported. They said she arrived in Georgetown by 10 p.m. Investigators said using camera and cell phone data, they found out that Moody’s Ford Explorer was the only vehicle that had passed Drexel’s location at that time.
According to WCIV, Moody admitted he was driving the Ford Explorer with Vause as a passenger. They saw Drexel and asked her if she wanted to drive down to his camp site to smoke marijuana, according to WCIV, and Moody hoped it would lead to sex. Vause had to leave so she was not present for what happened next, WCIV said.
According to the FBI, Moody said he made advances after Vause left and eventually raped Drexel, WCIV reported. He knew he would go back to jail, so he strangled Drexel and wrapped her in a blanket. When Vause returned, he made up a story about Drexel leaving. Later, he went back for her body and buried it.
Investigators said Moody led them to the body, and they were able to confirm it was hers using dental records, WCIV reported.
Prosecutors said the information they currently have is all Moody’s account but the evidence they have seems to back up his confession.
The Associated Press and WCIV contributed to this report.
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- Brittanee Drexel found dead after 13 years; SC sex offender charged
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