The remains of a 17-year-old Rochester girl were found in South Carolina last week more than a decade after she vanished on a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach — and a man has been arrested for her murder, law enforcement officials announced Monday.
The body of Brittanee Drexel, who was reported missing on April 25, 2009, was discovered Wednesday in Georgetown County, not far from the popular vacation destination where she was last seen, the Georgetown County sheriff said at a press conference Monday.
“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare,” Brittanee’s mother, Dawn Drexel, said at the press conference.
“I’m 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.”
Police arrested career sex offender Raymond Douglas Moody of Georgetown and charged him with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Moody allegedly strangled Drexel on the day she disappeared and buried her body the next day, according to the sheriff.
The investigation led police to an area in Georgetown where Drexel’s body was believed to be buried. Her remains were identified through dental records and DNA testing, police said.
Drexel was last seen on Ocean Boulevard after leaving the hotel she was staying at in Myrtle Beach.
Investigators said they never stopped searching for her and her killer.
Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver appealed to her family at the news conference Monday.
“To the Drexel family, we mourn with you and pray for you as you cope with the tragedies of 13 years ago,” he said. “No one deserves to go through this and our hearts go out to you. Our only hope is that this finding allows your family to grieve properly for Brittanee.”
Dawn Drexel said the family is organizing a celebration of her daughter’s life both in Rochester and Myrtle Beach.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter,” she said. “The search for Brittanee is now a pursuit for Brittanee’s justice.”