The cold case of the missing teenage girl who disappeared while on spring break three years ago is now coming back into the spotlight as police identify a convicted sex offender as a ‘person of interest’.
Brittanee Drexel, who was 17 at the time of her ill-fated vacation, disappeared after leaving a group of friends at their hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina around 9pm.
When she left the Blue Water Resort, she headed back to the room where she and some girlfriends were staying at the Bar Harbor Hotel which is just 1.4 miles away down a busy road.
Security footage at the Bar Harbor Hotel shows that Brittanee never made it there.
Linked: Police think that Raymond Moody is involved in both the disappearances of Crystal Soles (left) and Brittanee Drexel (right) who went missing in 2005 and 2009 respectively
Instead, she vanished during that small stretch of a walk, and she has never been seen again.
The last trace of Brittanee came from her cell phone in Georgetown County, South Carolina, which is about 50 miles south of the hotel where she was last seen.
Brittanee, a high school junior from Rochester, New York, was not even supposed to be in Myrtle Beach when she disappeared. She had gotten into an argument with her mother who would not allow her to go on the trip with her older friends, and instead of staying at a friend’s home near Lake Ontario like she said she would, Brittanee went on the trip anyway.
Police still have not found the girl’s pink cell phone itself, but consider the fact that the signal had travelled so far south to mean that Brittanee was also taken to the area.
Last seen: Brittanee was shown on the security footage of the Blue Water Resort in Myrtle Beach as she left the room of a group of her male friends and headed to the nearby hotel where she and some girlfriends were staying
Gone: She should have been able to make the 1.4 mile walk- which ran along a busy road- between the hotels, but security footage at the Bar Harbor Hotel never showed her re-entering
Throughout the multi-year search police have said that there were anywhere between one and three people of interest, but have never formally released the names of these individuals either to the press or to Brittanee’s family.
Person of interest: Raymond Moody, 51, spent 21 years in a California prison for abducting and raping a 9-year-old girl
In August, however, Georgetown County police conducted an extremely thorough investigation of apartment number 22 in an area motel called Sunset Lodge.
A convicted sex offender named Raymond Moody, 51, checked into that room on April 24, 2009- the day before Brittanee disappeared.
‘We cannot eliminate him as a person of interest,’ Myrtle Beach police captain Joe Vella told FoxNews.
Moody was issued a speeding ticket in Surfside- a town in between Myrtle Beach and Georgetown County- the day after Brittanee disappeared.
His previous run-ins with the law were significantly more violent, and he is classified as a level 3 sex offender.
Moody spent 21 years in prison stemming back to a 1983 abduction and rape case of a 9-year-old California girl, and was considered the suspect in a number of similar rapes, but was never charged.
Spring break gone bad: Brittanee Drexel (right) was visiting Myrtle Beach in April 2009 when she went missing. She was last seen leaving the hotel where one group of friends was staying, but never made it back to her own room.
Rebellious: Brittanee got in a fight with her mom because her mother did not want her to go to Myrtle Beach with her older group of friends. Brittanee went regardless and told her mother she was at a friend's house
Police have stressed that while they are investigating Moody, this is not new.
‘Mr. Moody was a person that was investigated in this case. His hotel room was searched last year and he is one of many people that we have investigated during the course of this investigation,’ Myrtle Beach police captain David Knipe wrote in a statement to Carolina Live.
During that search of his apartment, police reportedly took pieces of the wallpaper from the bathroom, portions of the mattress cover, and sprayed an unknown substance on the sink, refrigerator, and curtains.
‘This is still an active investigation and we continue to follow any and every lead possible,’ Mr Knipe continued.
Covering the coast: The distance Brittanee hoped to walk wasn't far (inset) but her last cell service came from Georgetown, which is 50 miles south of Myrtle Beach
Investigations in the wooded area near the apartment where Moody was staying in Georgetown have been fruitless
In addition to their suspicions about Moody’s involvement in Brittanee’s disappearance, police have also linked him to a very similar case where then 28-year-old Crystal Soles went missing in 2005- a year after Moody was released from prison. She was last seen in Andrews, South Carolina, which is to the east of Georgetown.
While police have said that they no longer feel that Brittanee is alive, her single mother Dawn is holding out hope.
‘Every day is a nightmare,’ she told FoxNews. ‘I miss her so much.’
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