Brittanee resided in Rochester, New York in 2009; she was a junior at Gates-Chili High School, where she was a star player on the soccer team. Her parents are legally separated and Brittanee lived with her mother, but saw her father frequently. In April 2009, Brittanee asked for her mother's permission to travel to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for spring break with her friends and longtime boyfriend.
Her mother said no, they argued about it, and Brittanee got permission to go to a friend's home. She went to Myrtle Beach in spite of what her mother said. Her mother was unaware of this; she thought Brittanee was staying with a friend locally. They spoke several times on the telephone after she arrived in South Carolina. Brittanee's mother didn't find out where her daughter really was until she was notified that Brittanee had disappeared. Brittanee's friends last saw her Bar Harbor Hotel in Myrtle Beach at 8:00 p.m. on April 25, 2009. Brittanee walked more than a mile to the Blue Water Resort on Ocean Boulevard, where other friends were staying. Surveillance cameras there show her going into the resort, then leaving sometime after 8:30 p.m. At 9:15 p.m., she sent a text message to one of her friends saying she was going to see a friend who was staying at another hotel. She has never been heard from again. She left all her clothes behind at her hotel room. Her beige purse and pink cellular phone disappeared with her. The phone's last signal was near U.S. 17 and the Charleston County line the night Brittanee went missing. Since then its battery has died.
There were rumors of an imminent breakthrough in Brittanee's case in April 2010. Authorities announced they had three or four persons of interest, all of them from the Myrtle Beach area, and they had obtained search warrants and given polygraph exams to these individuals. No arrests were made, however, and none of the persons of interest were publicly named. Investigators stated foul play was suspected in Brittanee's case and they believed she may have been a homicide victim.
Brittanee moved frequently during her childhood because her father was in the military. Her parents describe her as a very resourceful, strong-minded and independent young woman. She was upset over her parents' pending divorce, but they don't believe she ran away, as this is uncharacteristic of her and they don't think she would have left her clothes behind if she had run. Her boyfriend of three years agrees with this assessment. Brittanee was studying cosmetology in high school and is very interested in fashion and wearing stylish outfits. Her case remains unsolved.
Missing Since: April 25, 2009 from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 7, 1991
Age: 17 years old
Height and Weight: 5'0, 103 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue-green eyes. Brittanee has blonde highlights in her hair. Her ears and nose are pierced and she wears blue- tinted contact lenses. She frequently changes her hair's style and color. Brittanee's nickname is Britt. She is of Turkish descent.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white,teal and gray spaghetti-strap top, black shorts and white or silver flip- flops.
Medical Conditions: Brittanee suffers from depression.
For more than seven years, Drexel’s case has remained a mystery and source of deep grief to her parents. Authorities have only said that they believe she was killed after being held against her will for several days. But earlier this month, FBI agent Gerrick Munoz testified in court to what authorities believe happened, citing a recent “jailhouse confession” from an inmate, according to a court transcript obtained by PEOPLE. Munoz testified on Aug. 15 at a federal detention hearing for Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor, to determine whether Taylor should be free as he awaits trial on unconnected federal robbery charges. Munoz testified that Taylor’s suspected role in Drexel’s disappearance proves he is a danger to the community and should not be released. But Taylor’s attorney, David Aylor, highlighted in court the prosecution’s lack of hard evidence and said that his client has not been arrested for any crimes in Drexel’s disappearance or death. Rather, Aylor said, the government was attempting to “squeeze” Taylor into cooperation.
‘A Human Trafficking Situation’
Munoz testified that an inmate told authorities he allegedly saw Taylor “sexually abusing” Drexel in 2009, along with other men, according to court documents. The inmate, Taquan Brown of Walterboro, South Carolina, told investigators that in the days after Drexel vanished he went to a “stash house” near McClellanville, South Carolina, where he allegedly saw Taylor with the teen and other men, Munoz testified. (Brown is serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.) During his trip to the stash house, described as a place where Taylor and others hung out, Brown said Drexel ran out of a room but was allegedly “pistol-whipped” by her captors and taken back inside, Munoz testified. At that point Brown said he was allegedly outside with Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor, and Shaun went inside, Munoz testified.
After Shaun allegedly went into the house, Brown said he heard two shots fired and he assumed Shaun shot Drexel, according to Munoz’s testimony. Brown said her body was then wrapped up and taken out to be discarded, according to Munoz’s testimony. Investigators have unsuccessfully searched for Drexel’s remains, Munoz said. “Several witnesses have told us Ms. Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of – eaten by the gators,” he said, adding that there are 30 to 40 gator pits in the area, making the search for her body difficult. Authorities also received “secondhand information” from another inmate in the Georgetown Detention Center that corroborated Brown’s jailhouse confession, Munoz said. The second inmate had heard that Timothy allegedly picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and drove her to McClellanville, where her last cellphone signal pinged, Munoz said. Timothy allegedly “showed her off, introduced her to some other friends that were there” in McClellanville, Munoz testified. “They ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation.” When news of the teen’s disappearance became widely publicized, her captors decided to kill her and dispose of her body, Munoz testified.
New Charges for Timothy
The August hearing comes after new charges for a previous crime: Timothy earlier received a suspended youth offender sentence and served two years’ probation as the getaway driver in a 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, according to court records. He was at the fast food restaurant with two others, who held up the McDonald’s, according to records. Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said the government brought new charges against Timothy because he only received probation for the McDonald’s robbery, while the other two men involved got lengthy sentences. One of the other two non-fatally shot the store manager during the robbery, according to the court records.
Two Families’ AngstDuring the bond hearing, Timothy’s mother, Joan Taylor, testified on his behalf, saying he already served his time for his involvement in the robbery. Calling him “a great kid,” she testified that she is a church pastor and that, as a mother, she was strict and “kept great hold on him.” She denied the accusations against him in Drexel’s case and said he would never have gone to Myrtle Beach at 16. In a later interview with the Post and Courier, Joan denied that her husband was involved as well, calling the government’s case against her family “craziness.” In a Facebook posting on Monday, Drexel’s father, Chad Drexel, said that while he understands Timothy’s mother defended him in court, he believes the now 25-year-old South Carolina man was involved with Brittanee’s disappearance and death.“Based on evidence the FBI and the Myrtle Beach Police department has gathered, along with FACTS and SPECIFIC INFORMATION gathered from a team of Private Investigators that I HIRED to work with local law enforcement actively during the case (which will SOON COME TO LIGHT) – we have no doubt Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor played a significant role in the abduction and murder of my daughter,” Chad wrote.He said he hopes other witnesses come forward and that the suspect goes to prison for life. “Please keep our family and our Brittanee in your prayers!” he wrote. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the testimony or case and calls to the FBI were not immediately returned. Aylor, Timothy’s attorney, had no comment. In court, Aylor argued that his client should not be punished for something for which he has already served time – just because the government wants “to squeeze him” and pressure him into confessing because “some jailhouse rat has come up with a story,” according to court records. The judge ordered Timothy released on $10,000 bail, which he posted after the hearing.
What Happened to Brittanee Drexel? Spring Breaker Allegedly Kidnapped, Killed and Thrown in Alligator PitSeven years ago, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel vanished without a trace while on spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Since then, her family and friends have longed to learn the truth about what happened to the New York teen.Earlier this month, at last, an FBI agent told a judge that authorities think Drexel was kidnapped, gang raped and then shot to death. Her remains were disposed of in an unthinkable manner, the agent said. The break in the case was a “jailhouse confession,” he said. Here are five things to know about the investigation into Drexel’s disappearance after the disturbing new allegations.
1. An Inmate Said He Saw Drexel Sexually Abused Soon Before Her Death
On Aug. 15, FBI agent Gerrick Munoz testified in court to what authorities believe happened to the blonde teenager, citing a recent “jailhouse confession” from an inmate and other witness statements, according to a court transcript obtained by PEOPLE. That inmate, Taquan Brown, claims he was present for the gunshots that may have ended Drexel’s life, according to Munoz’s testimony – though Brown heard them and did not see them. Investigators have previously said they believe Drexel was was kidnapped and held against her will for days after her disappearance. Munoz testified in court that she was subject to “a human trafficking situation.” Brown told investigators that in 2009, soon after Drexel’s disappearance, he saw Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor with other men allegedly “sexually abusing” her at a “stash house” in the area of McClellanville, South Carolina, Munoz testified. Brown alleges that Drexel tried to flee her captors, but was immediately caught in the house and pistol-whipped, Munoz testified. Brown told Munoz he heard two shots and assumed she’d been killed, possibly by Taylor’s father who was also at the home. “Then the girl’s body was wrapped up and taken away,” Munoz testified.
2. Drexel’s Remains Were Allegedly Thrown to Alligators
After the teen was shot, her captors allegedly took her body to one of the many alligator pits in the area, leaving it for the reptiles to devour, Munoz testified. “Several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators,” Munoz testified. Drexel’s remains have never been recovered, he said.
3. Drexel Didn’t Tell Her Parents She Was in Myrtle Beach
Drexel was still a high school student when she left her hometown of Chili, New York, for Myrtle Beach. But her parents had no idea she was traveling so far. “I didn’t know she was going,” her mother, Dawn, 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,” Dawn said. “I just felt it.”
4. No Charges for Taylor in Drexel’s Case
Munoz’s testimony in August came during a detention hearing for Timothy Taylor, to determine whether he should be free as he awaits trial on unconnected federal robbery charges in a 2011 incident. But as Taylor’s defense attorney, David Aylor, noted in court: There is no hard evidence in the case and Taylor has not been charged in Drexel’s disappearance or death. Timothy earlier received a suspended youth offender sentence and served two years’ probation as the getaway driver in the 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, according to court records. He was at the fast food restaurant with two others, who held up the McDonald’s, according to records. But in June, the federal government brought new charges against Taylor because, they said, his sentence was relatively light compared to other two robbers. Aylor has called the prosecution’s argument a way to “squeeze” his client into cooperating with their case.
5. Drexel’s Father Believes Taylor Is Involved
On Monday, Drexel’s father, Chad Drexel, took to Facebook in reaction to the FBI testimony: Chad wrote that he believes Taylor, who was 16 in 2009 and is now 25, was involved with Brittanee’s disappearance and death. “Based on evidence the FBI and the Myrtle Beach Police department has gathered, along with facts and specific information gathered from a team of private investigators that I hired to work with local law enforcement actively during the case (which will soon come to light) – we have no doubt Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor played a significant role in the abduction and murder of my daughter,” Chad wrote. Taylor’s mother, Joan, has reportedly called the government’s accusations against her husband and son “craziness.” She testified in court in August that her son would never have been in Myrtle Beach at 16. She called him a “great kid.” Chad said he hopes other witnesses come forward. “Please keep our family and our Brittanee in your prayers!” he wrote.