Raymond Moody is a Georgetown, South Carolina, sex offender who is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, a 17-year-old missing New York girl.
Brittanee Drexel was last seen in 2009 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she had gone on spring break without her parents’ knowledge. For years, family and friends have maintained hope that they would learn what happened to the teenager, who seemingly vanished into thin air.
Moody, 62, has been a person of interest in the case for years but renewed interest in him was generated by searches in South Carolina and his arrest there. 13WHAM reported that human remains were found in a wooded area near Georgetown, South Carolina. They have not been identified. WPDE-TV reported that the remains were located about 2.5 miles from a motel where Moody was living at the time Drexel vanished.
Authorities have not confirmed a connection between Moody’s arrest and Drexel’s disappearance, however.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Moody Was Recently Arrested as Searches Took Place in Georgetown, South Carolina
On May 13, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown, South Carolina, revealed that it was holding a press conference on Monday “in regards to recent law enforcement activity within Georgetown County.” The release did not give further details. The Democrat & Chronicle has reported that this activity might be related to the Brittanee Drexel case, although that has not been confirmed by authorities.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the news conference comes on the heels of the arrest of a man named Raymond Moody, who was “once considered a person of interest in Drexel’s 2009 disappearance.”
Moody is accused of obstruction.
WMBF reported that authorities are “working from dawn to dusk in Georgetown County” conducting searches they won’t shed light on.
On May 11, 2022, Brittanee’s dad Chad Drexel said he was hacked after a post appeared on his Facebook page that said an arrest was made in his daughter’s case, according to WHEC.
2. Moody Was Named a Person of Interest in Drexel’s Disappearance After a Traffic Violation
The Democrat & Chronicle newspaper reported that Moody “was stopped by police for a traffic violation in a beach town near Myrtle Beach one day after the teen disappeared.” That, plus his background as a sex offender, helped make him a person of interest in Drexel’s case.
According to WHAM13, Moody was named a person of interest in the case in 2012. Over the years, other people have also been identified as persons of interest in the long-languishing case.
Fox News reported that “the last signal from Drexel’s cellphone” was about eight miles from Moody’s residence and 50 miles from Myrtle Beach.
3. Moody Is a Sex Offender Who Raped Seven Girls in California
According to the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, Moody is a sex offender and searches of property are believed to be connected to his arrest.
13WHAM reported that he served 21 years in prison for “sexually assaulting seven girls in California, including kidnapping and raping one of them,” and moved to South Carolina in 2004.
According to ABC4, Moody’s victims in California were girls ages 5 to 17.
In 2015, one of Moody’s victims, Kerri Harding, spoke to Fox News. She was only 8-years-old when he kidnapped and raped her in 1983, Fox reported.
“My biggest fear is that he’ll do it again,” Harding told Fox. “You should never get a second chance to hurt a child.” At the time of the Harding interview, he was working in a woodworking shop.
The Fox described how Moody attacked Harding as she walked to meet a friend. He “forced the young girl into his car: in Vallejo and raped her. She escaped, and identified a green military sticker on his car that led to his arrest in the rapes.
“He should have never been released,” she told FoxNews.com. “Why would the courts even take a chance with our children?”
4. Moody’s Former Love Described How He Was in the Military & Had an Abusive Childhood
Ernie Merchant claimed to ABC4 that he lived with Moody at the Sunset Lodge Motel in Georgetown. According to the television station, Merchant once wrote a book describing his relationship with Moody.
He said that he fell in love with Moody while in a California prison, labeling him his “cell husband.” According to Merchant, Moody described having a violent dad and alcoholic mom.
Moody was in the military and married with three children at one time, according to ABC4. IN his book, he claims Moody described why he molested the girls, saying, “He said, ‘I don’t know why. I had the impulses and thoughts for along time before I acted on them – I felt it building up in me until I couldn’t control it anymore. After the first one, it got easier. I became someone else, someone that didn’t care.’”
Merchant says they broke up when Moody dated a woman and wanted to party, according to the television station.
5. Videos Captured the Last Moments of Brittanee Drexel Before She Disappeared
Brittanee’s last days were captured on video, including one taken the day before she disappeared in Myrtle Beach (see above).
This compilation video below shows surveillance video that captured the teenager walking out of the Bluewater Hotel where she was staying on April 25, 2009. She was leaving the hotel to go back to another hotel where she was staying.
Police had said previously that Brittanee went to the Bluewater hotel to see a friend from Rochester, Peter Brozowitz, who was staying there with friends, according to WCSC. She stayed 10 minutes. Police said Brozowitz and his friends were not suspects.
Drexel was never seen alive again.
After she vanished, Drexel’s cellphone pinged the next day “near the South Santee River, between McClellanville and Georgetown.”
Brittanee was from Chili, New York, and she had gone to Myrtle Beach for spring break. Drexel was a student at Gates-Chili High School when she disappeared.
She had gone to Myrtle Beach without her parents knowing. Her family had thought she was at a beach in New York State instead. Brittany had gone to Myrtle Beach with three friends, even though her mother had previously warned her that she something might happen to her if she did.