'I Was a Monster': Killer Confesses to Kidnapping, Killing Brittanee Drexel While She Was on Spring Break

Raymond Moody, 62, was sentenced to life in prison for raping and murdering the 17-year-old who vanished while vacationing in Myrtle Beach

On Wednesday, 13 years after Brittanee Drexel vanished while on a spring break trip in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the convicted sex offender who kidnapped and killed her pleaded guilty to the crimes and was sentenced to life in prison.

"I was a monster," Raymond Moody, 62, a longtime person of interest in the case said in court after entering his guilty plea, the Democrat & Chronicle reports. "I was a monster then and I was a monster when I took Brittanee Drexel's life. I don't have the words to express how horrible I feel ... I'm very sorry."

The judge sentenced Moody to consecutive terms of 30 years on the charges of kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct and a life sentence on the first-degree murder charge for kidnapping, raping and strangling the 17-year-old high school soccer star who dreamed of becoming a nurse or cosmetologist, the Democrat & Chronicle reports.

In his victim statement to the court before Moody was sentenced, Drexel's stepfather, Chad Drexel, who with her mother, Dawn Pleckan, searched tirelessly for the teen, said he'd always held out hope that she would be one day found.

"Thirteen years later, I find out the horrible and disgusting way she was murdered," he said choking back tears, WMBF and WHSV reports.

This undated photo provided by the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Police Department shows Brittanee Drexel. Authorities in South Carolina are holding a news conference Wednesday, June 8, 2016, to talk about the case of the New York teen who disappeared during a 2009 spring break trip to Myrtle Beach. (Myrtle Beach Police Department via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Brittanee Drexel. Myrtle Beach Police Department via AP

Pleckan had harsher words for Moody.

"I hope you suffer in prison for the rest of your useless life," said Pleckan, who never stopped looking for her daughter.

A Spring Break Nightmare

For more than a decade, Drexel's parents wondered what happened to the outgoing junior at Gates Chili High School in Chili, N.Y.

Unbeknownst to her parents, on April 22, 2009, Drexel joined a group of friends who were going to Myrtle Beach for spring break.

"I didn't know she was going," Pleckan previously told PEOPLE. "The day she left she was angry with me because she asked me if she could go and I told her no. I said, 'There's no adults going, and I have no idea who these kids are and I don't feel comfortable with it.' "

"I told her I just felt something was going to happen to her," Pleckan said. "I just felt it."

On April 25, 2009, Drexel left her hotel alone and headed to the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard, the busy main drag in Myrtle Beach, to visit a friend who was staying there.

She was last seen at about 8:45 p.m. when surveillance cameras captured her leaving the hotel in a black and white tank top, shorts and flip flops, say authorities.

Brittanee Drexel.

She texted her boyfriend back home that she was walking back to the Bar Harbor, a motor inn a mile and a half down the road, where she and her friends were staying.

She was never heard from again.

Her cellphone transmitted its last known signal the day after she disappeared near the South Santee River, between McClellanville and Georgetown, say authorities.

Finally, An Answer

For years, local authorities and the FBI searched for her, holding press conferences along the way asking for the public's help.

In May of this year, her body was finally found buried in the South Carolina woods.

Details about what happened to Drexel when she vanished were finally revealed when police arrested Moody that month, after he directed them to the spot where he'd buried her body.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

The day after Drexel vanished, police in the nearby town of Surfside stopped Moody for speeding, according to the arrest warrant obtained by PEOPLE.

But authorities would not identify him as a potential person of interest in the case for another two years.

Brittanee Drexel and Raymond Moody
Brittanee Drexel and Raymond Moody. AP Photo/Myrtle Beach Police Department, Georgetown County Sheriff's Office

Moody was living an hour from Myrtle Beach — at a motel in Georgetown, S.C., in 2009 when Drexel was last seen, investigators said.

According to authorities, Moody kidnapped Drexel as she walked alone along the Myrtle Beach strip.

Thanks to advances in cell phone technology, starting in 2019, authorities were able to track Drexel's phone, showing that she went from walking on the strip to traveling in a car and ending up in the Georgetown County area, Assistant Solicitor Scott Hixson explained in court, WMBF reports.

The case came to a head in April 2022 when Moody's girlfriend, Angel Vause, agreed to help the FBI and wear a wire and talk to Moody about what happened to Drexel, WMBF reports.

On May 5, 2022, Moody admitted what he did to Drexel, Hixson said, WMBF reports.

He told authorities he and Vause were driving in Myrtle Beach when they saw Drexel and asked her to party with them, Hixson said, the Democrat & Chronicle reports.

He said she got into the car voluntarily, which her family disputed, the newspaper reports.

He said he drove Vause and Drexel to a campsite in Georgetown County, where they smoked marijuana.

When Vause left, Moody said he wanted to have sex with Drexel. When she refused, he raped her.

Worried that he might get in trouble for raping Drexel, he strangled her, wrapped her body in a blanket and hid her in the woods, Hixson said.

When Vause returned, he told her Drexel's friends had picked her up.

He returned to the campsite later on, moved Drexel's body and buried it in another location, Hixson said, the Democrat & Chronicle reports.

According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Moody is a registered sex offender who spent 21 years in prison following a 1983 abduction and rape case in California involving a 9-year-old girl.

The guilty plea and sentencing are bittersweet for Drexel's family.

"I'll never be able to walk Brittanee down the aisle and neither will her blood father or Dawn," Chad Drexel said, News 10 NBC reports. "She'll never be able to see my granddaughter, her niece who is amazing, all that's snatched away from us."

Related Articles