(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) — Investigators in South Carolina have made a significant break in the case of a teen who went missing in 2009 while vacationing for spring break.
A suspect in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared in 2009 after traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring break, has been arrested and charged with her murder after her remains were found in a wooded area in Georgetown County, South Carolina, last week, authorities announced at a news conference Monday.
“In the last week, we’ve confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way, at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets,” said FBI special agent in charge Susan Ferensic.
Drexel was last seen on the night of April 25, 2009, as she was leaving a friend’s room at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the hotel where she was staying — about a mile-and-a-half walk down the busy Myrtle Beach strip, ABC Rochester station WHAM reported.
She was about halfway to her destination when she is presumed to have disappeared, investigators believe, based on surveillance footage from cameras on 11th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.
The suspect, Raymond Moody, 62, allegedly buried Drexel’s dead body, said Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver. Her remains were found less than 3 miles from a motel where Moody had been living at the time of Drexel’s disappearance, Weaver said.
Moody is being held without bond at the Georgetown County jail and is expected to be charged with rape, murder and kidnapping — in addition to a charge of obstruction of justice that he was initially brought in for, said Jimmy Richardson, solicitor for Horry and Georgetown Counties.
Authorities did not answer reporters’ questions on how Drexel’s remains were found or what in the investigation led them to believe Moody was a suspect. In 2012, he had been identified as a person of interest in the disappearance, but there was not enough evidence to name him as a suspect, officials said.
Investigators believe Drexel was held against her will and killed.
Drexel’s parents, Dawn Pleckan and Chad Drexel, were in attendance at the press conference. There, they asked for privacy and thanked investigators and volunteers for their work over the past decade.
“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare,” Pleckan said. “I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have been for 13 years. But today, it’s bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure in the piece that we have been desperately hoping for.”
Drexel would have been 30 years old on Monday, WHAM reported.
ABC News’ Joshua Hoyos contributed to this report.
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