Raymond Moody is a sex offender from Georgetown, South Carolina who is considered a person of interest in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, a 17-year-old missing girl from New York.
Brittanee Drexel was last seen in 2009 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where she had gone on spring break without her parents knowing. For years, family and friends have hoped to learn what happened to the teen who seemed to have vanished into thin air.
Moody, 62, has been a person of interest in the case for years, but renewed interest in him was sparked by searches and his arrest in South Carolina. 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 about 2.5 miles from a motel where Moody was living when Drexel disappeared.
However, authorities have not confirmed a link between Moody’s arrest and Drexel’s disappearance.
Here’s what you need to know:
On May 13, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office in Georgetown, South Carolina, announced that it was holding a press conference Monday “regarding recent law enforcement activity in Georgetown County.” The press release did not give any further details. The Democrat & Chronicle has reported that this activity may be linked to the Brittanee Drexel case, although this has not been confirmed by authorities.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the press conference follows the arrest of a man named Raymond Moody, who was “once considered a person of interest in the 2009 disappearance of Drexel.”
Moody is accused of disability.
WMBF reported that authorities are “working from dawn to dusk in Georgetown County” conducting searches that they will not shed light on.
On May 11, 2022, Brittanee’s father, Chad Drexel, said he was hacked after a post appeared on his Facebook page saying an arrest had been made in his daughter’s case, according to WHEC.
The Democrat & Chronicle newspaper reported that Moody was “pulled over by police for a traffic violation in a beach town near Myrtle Beach the day after the teen’s disappearance.” That and his background as a sex offender helped make him an interesting figure 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 lengthy case.
Fox News reported that “the last signal from Drexel’s cell phone” was about eight miles from Moody’s residence and 50 miles from Myrtle Beach.
According to the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper, Moody is a sex offender and house searches are believed to be related to his arrest.
13WHAM reported that he served 21 years in prison for “sexually molesting seven girls in California, including kidnapping and raping one of them” and moving to South Carolina in 2004.
According to ABC4, Moody’s victims in California were girls between the ages of 5 and 17.
In 2015, Kerri Harding, one of Moody’s victims, spoke to Fox News. She was just 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 be given a second chance to hurt a child.” At the time of the Harding interview, he was working in a wood shop.
The fox described how Moody attacked Harding as she was walking over to a friend’s house. 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 never have been released,” she told FoxNews.com. “Why should the courts even take any chances with our children?”
Ernie Merchant claimed to ABC4 that he lived with Moody at the Sunset Lodge Motel in Georgetown. According to the TV network, Merchant once wrote a book detailing his relationship with Moody.
He said he fell in love with Moody in a California prison and referred to him as his “cell husband.” According to Merchant, Moody described having an abusive father and an alcoholic mother.
According to ABC4, Moody was in the military and married while having three children. In his book, he claims Moody described why he molested the girls by saying, “He said, ‘I don’t know why. I had the impulses and thoughts for a long time before I acted on them – I felt it building inside me until I couldn’t control it anymore. After the first it got easier. I became someone else, someone who didn’t care.’”
Merchant says they split when Moody started dating a woman and wanted to party, according to the TV network.
Brittanee’s final days were captured on video, including one in Myrtle Beach the day before her disappearance (see above).
This compilation video below shows surveillance video that captured the teenager leaving the Bluewater Hotel where she was staying on April 25, 2009. She left the hotel to return to another hotel where she was staying.
Police previously said that Brittanee went to the Bluewater Hotel to see a friend from Rochester, Peter Brozowitz, who was staying there with friends, according to the WCSC. She stayed 10 minutes. Police said Brozowitz and his friends were not suspects.
Drexel was never seen alive again.
After she disappeared, Drexel’s cell phone pinged the next day “near the South Santee River, between McClellanville and Georgetown.”
Brittanee was from Chili, New York, and 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 on a beach in upstate New York instead. Brittany had gone to Myrtle Beach with three friends, although her mother had previously warned her that if she did, something could happen to her.