A suspect in the disappearance and alleged rape and gruesome slaying of missing teenager Brittanee Drexel is speaking publicly — and he’s denying every allegation against him and his family in connection with the case.
“No, sir. I did not kill Britney Drexel,” Taylor told the station’s reporter at the top of their interview.
He went on to deny various other allegations against him by federal authorities and said he has an alibi for the time period in which investigators believe Drexel was killed.
“I was a teenager at that time, and I was still in school — so when I listened to the stories, it’s like, it’s not true,” Taylor said.
He said he provided proof of his alibi to authorities and also said he’s taken a polygraph test about his alleged connection to Drexel, the results of which showed “everything was okay.” He said he cooperated with the FBI during his initial questioning several years ago and was only contacted again this year.
“It seems to me that they’re just trying to find someone to [arrest], or someone to try and arrest to get the case over with, solved and closed,” Taylor said. “That’s what it seems like to me.”
Citing a prison informant, Taquan Brown, the FBI alleged in chilling court testimony this summer that Taylor and his father, Timothy Shaun Taylor, were both involved in Drexel’s disappearance. (Neither has been charged.)
Federal authorities had sought to have the younger Taylor detained on unrelated robbery charges — which his attorney argued was a smokescreen to “squeeze” Da’Shaun into cooperating with the Drexel investigation, pointing to the lack of physical evidence linking his client to her.
Da’Shaun’s lawyer, David Aylor, tells PEOPLE that his client agreed to be interviewed to “clear his name.”
“A lot of people have the misconception that he has actually been charged with a crime related to Brittanee Drexel, which he has not,” Aylor says. “He has been under investigation.
“We feel that he is being squeezed by the federal government over old charges that he had already pleaded through the state system that are being brought back up simply to try and push him out on the Drexel case.
“It is scary what the Department of Justice is doing in this case.”
Law enforcement had said little about the case publicly until August, confirming only that they believed Drexel was held for several days against her will before being killed.
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The 17-year-old soccer star vanished in 2009 during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Federal investigators say her cell phone last pinged in the area of McClellanville, South Carolina, where Da’Shaun’s family lives.
Based on Brown’s information, the FBI alleges that Da’Shaun brought Drexel from Myrtle Beach to McClellanville where she was sexually abused and eventually shot and killed, before her body was tossed into an alligator pit.
Brown told the FBI he allegedly saw Da’Shaun sexually assault Drexel the day of her death, at a McClellanville “stash house,” and believes Da’Shaun’s father killed her after she tried to escape, a federal agent testified in August.
But none of those accusations are true, Da’Shaun told News10NBC. He said he had never met Brown.
“The only thing I known is from what I’ve been seeing on TV and the bulletins and what the FBI has told [me],” he said when asked if he ever met Drexel.
Da’Shaun also said his father was not involved in her case — and he accused Brown of lying in order to make a deal with authorities: “I felt like he was just trying to get a reward money or his time cut, for something that he did.”
News10NBC also asked Da’Shaun about an allegation from Drexel’s father, Chad Drexel, that the two of them met after Brittanee disappeared: Chad has said he ran into Da’Shaun in McClellanville, as he was passing out flyers about his daughter, and that Da’Shaun laughed at him.
“I don’t ever remember meeting Mr. Drexel or receiving a flyer from him,” Da’Shaun said. (Others have corroborated Chad’s account.)
But Da’Shaun did say he was sorry for the family’s loss. He said he had no idea what might have happened to her.
“I sincerely do apologize for their loss,” Da’Shaun told News10NBC. “And I honestly hope that they find [who did] this and give them justice, but I honestly don’t have anything or have any information to help them. Because I honestly don’t know anything.”
Da’Sahun’s attorney did not immediately have a comment about Da’Shaun’s interview, and Shaun’s attorney could not immediately be reached. The family has previously declined to speak to PEOPLE, though Da’Shaun’s mother, Joan Taylor, told local media her husband and son were not involved.
In a previous statement via his attorney, Da’Shaun told PEOPLE he had nothing to do with Brittanee’s case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office previously declined to comment on the case, and the FBI could not immediately be reached.
Chad Drexel earlier told PEOPLE he believes the Taylors are connected to his daughter’s disappearance, and he has vowed to continue pursuing the case.
“All I want is justice for my daughter, Brittanee,” Chad said. “I’m begging anyone out there who knows who killed our daughter to please help us bring her remains back home to her family.”
• Reporting by KC BAKER