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Sex offender jailed in 2009 missing teen whose remains have been identified

Authorities in South Carolina on Monday announced an arrest in the case of the missing 13-year-old teenager Brittanee Drexel, whose remains were discovered in the state in early May.

Raymond Douglas Moody, 62, of Georgetown, South Carolina, has been arrested on allegations of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault in connection with the case, officials said at a news conference .

Moody, convicted in California of multiple sex crimes in 1983, was named in 2012 as a person of interest in the case of Rochester, New York, spring break traveler Brittanee Drexel, last seen in Myrtle Beach April 25, 2009.

She was 17, and her case inspired national headlines, fantasy stories about her plight, and even a nonprofit dedicated to fighting child sex trafficking.

It was unclear whether Moody, held in the Georgetown County Detention Center on May 4 without bond, had an attorney. Detainee records indicate he was also being held on an allegation of obstruction of justice. The Georgetown County public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Without bowing their hand, authorities said their case was based on the same undisclosed evidence that led to Drexel’s remains in Georgetown County.

“The charges against Raymond Moody were made possible by the findings of the investigation and evidence that led us to a possible site where Raymond Moody buried a deceased Brittany Drexel on or about April 26, 2009,” said the County Sheriff Carter Weaver.

Detectives believe Drexel was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered the day she was last seen alive at a coastal hotel, Weaver said.

“Brittanee tragically lost her life at the hands of a horrific criminal who walked our streets,” Susan Ferensic, the FBI’s Columbia Field Office senior agent, said at the press conference.

Weaver said his remains were identified on May 11 by the FBI’s Evidence Response Team, which used dental records. The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division later confirmed the find via DNA, the sheriff said.

Citing a local judge, NBC affiliate WMBF of Myrtle Beach reported that evidence led investigators to the Georgetown County site of Drexel’s body on May 4 and the remains were excavated on May 7 in about four feet underground.

The allegations against Moody as well as the short time between Drexel’s last sighting, on hotel security video, and his disappearance the next day, would seem to contradict some of the headline speculation surrounding his case. over the years.

In 2016, Gerrick Munoz, an FBI agent testifying at a bail hearing for a teenager who was allegedly involved in a robbery in South Carolina, said a prison informant told authorities the suspect had abducted Drexel, sexually assaulted her with others, killed her, and essentially fed her body alligators, the Charleston Post and Courier reported.

The teenager, ultimately sentenced to three years probation in the robbery-related case, strongly denied Drexel’s story, according to the Post and Courier.

The FBI, Munoz and the attorney for the suspect in the robbery case did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Drexel’s missing person case is also part of the origin story of a nonprofit, Saved in America, which says it helps law enforcement find missing children and victims of Trafficking.

Its San Diego-area founder, Joseph Travers, said his organization was inspired by the story of Drexel’s remains being fed to alligators by what he believed to be a street gang.

Today, he says, he doesn’t regret being moved by a story that might end up being untrue. He argues that many missing teenagers are sex trafficked by gang members. “That’s usually what happens to these girls,” Travers said.

He said he was happy that Drexel’s mother, Dawn, was able to wrap it up. He said she came to San Diego to help the group raise funds and he named a scholarship for Drexel.

“I feel for Dawn,” Travers said. “She has become part of our family.”

At Monday’s press conference, Father Chad Drexel thanked law enforcement for writing the final chapter in the case.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” he said. “We have a little more closure than we wanted to. Weighing it all up is hard for a dad, hard for a mom.”

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