Remains of a 17-year-old girl who went missing during her visit to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina in 2009 have been found after 13 years, police said. A repeat sex offender has been arrested for allegedly murdering her.
Brittanee Drexel’s body was found on 11 May in Georgetown County, nearly 56km from where she disappeared, authorities said on Monday. Her remains were discovered after the police received a flurry of tips.
She was last seen on 25 April 2009 on the Ocean Boulevard, when she was walking between hotels in Myrtle Beach.
Drexel was abducted, raped and killed that night by suspect Raymond Douglas Moody, 62, who buried her body in the forest the next day, Georgetown County sheriff Carter Weaver said.
The sheriff added that the suspect has an “extensive sex offender history”.
Moody is reportedly on South Carolina’s sex offender registry for convictions in California for sodomy by force of someone under the age of 14 and kidnapping.
Authorities said dental records backed by DNA testing confirmed her remains, while the arrest warrant suggested that Moody strangled Drexel on the night of her disappearance.
Moody has been charged with murder, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and obstruction of justice.
The girl’s mother, Dawn Drexel, said that the “search for Brittanee is now a pursuit of Brittanee’s justice”.
“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare,” she added. “I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have for the past 13 years. But today it's bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure and the peace that we have been desperately hoping for."
“It's a good day to soberly be reminded of Brittanee and all that she and her family have had to go through,” solicitor Jimmy Richardson said.
Amy Prock, the Myrtle Beach police chief when Drexel disappeared, said that she never forgot the case.
“It’s not the final chapter we had been hoping for. Every police officer has that one case that frequents their every waking thought,” she said.
Additional inputs from agencies