The remains of an American teenager have been found more than a decade after she disappeared on vacation – and a convicted sex offender has been charged with her murder.
The body of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared in 2009 at the age of 17, was found last week less than an hour’s drive from where she disappeared in a popular vacation destination in Carolina South.
Raymond Moody, 62, a convicted sex offender, has been arrested and charged with her kidnapping, murder and rape, officials said.
Brittanee’s mother, Dawn Drexel, said: “This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare. I mourn my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have for 13 years.”
She told a press conference on Monday: “Today marks the start of a new chapter. The search for Brittanee is now a pursuit of Brittanee justice.”
Brittanee was last seen in April 2009 walking between hotels in Myrtle Beach while on spring break with her friends.
Her boyfriend sounded the alarm when she stopped responding to text messages.
Moody allegedly strangled her to death the day she disappeared and buried her the next day in a forest in Georgetown County, about 35 miles from where she disappeared, officials say.
He had been the target of the investigation into his disappearance since 2011, county sheriff Carter Weaver told reporters.
Moody is being held without bail at the Georgetown County Jail.
Brittanee, who was from New York, was identified through DNA and dental records.
Sheriff Weaver said: “The why may never be known or understood. But today this task force can confidently and unhesitatingly answer the rest of these questions as well as the ‘Who is responsible?’ “”
He expressed his condolences to the family, saying: “To the Drexel family, we mourn with you and pray for you as you come to terms with the tragedy of 13 years ago.
“No one deserves to go through this and our thoughts are with you. Our only hope is that this discovery allows your family to mourn Brittanee properly.”