A Debunked Theory Claimed Brittanee Drexel Was Eaten By Alligators

On the night of April 25, 2009, a 17-year-old Rochester, New York teen named Brittanee Drexel disappeared, having seemingly vanished into thin air. As CNN reported at the time, the young woman had gone to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to celebrate Spring Break with friends, without her mother's permission. On the night of her disappearance, she was caught on hotel surveillance video walking into and out of a hotel, and it was believed she was walking down the street to meet friends at another hotel. She was never heard from again.

Over the next 13 years, police would follow up on various leads that never amounted to anything. Meanwhile, her cell phone data indicated that the device went silent at a location about 50 to 60 miles from where she was last seen, as MyHorryNews reported.

For a time in the investigation, authorities believed that she had been kept alive for a time after her abduction, and then later her body was thrown into a swamp to be eaten by alligators, according to The Post and Courier. However, her body was later found in May 2022, and authorities at the time determined that she only lived for a few hours after her abduction.

Theories About Brittanee's Disappearance And Death

For the next seven years, the investigation into Brittanee Drexel's disappearance was a dead end. Then in June 2016, as WHAM reported, the FBI held a press conference in which they revealed that Drexel had been abducted, and then held against her will for several days, before being killed. "We need your help so we can find Brittanee's remains and bring her home and lay her to rest," her mother, Dawn Drexel, said at the time.

In August of the same year, a prison inmate reported having been with Brittanee on the night that she was killed, according to the Post and Courier. The inmate claimed that he witnessed Drexel being sexually abused by multiple men, and that she was "pistol-whipped," shot twice, and then removed from the premises and thrown into a swamp to be eaten by alligators. 

Other jailhouse confessions would paint a picture that her abductor was "showing her off," possibly with a view toward selling her into human trafficking before she was killed. Authorities looked in several swamps but found neither Drexel's body nor any indication that she'd been eaten by alligators.

Raymond Moody

On May 16, 2022, the Democrat & Chronicle reported that authorities finally made an arrest — 13 years after Brittanee Drexel's disappearance. Raymond Moody, 62, a registered sex offender who had been behind bars for an unrelated crime, was charged with murder, kidnapping, and first-degree criminal sexual misconduct.

Investigators determined that the New York teen was abducted, sexually assaulted, and killed all in the same day, putting to rest the belief that she'd been kept alive for several days following her abduction. Further, authorities found human remains and confirmed that they belonged to Brittanee, via dental records, debunking the theory that her body had been eaten by alligators.

"This is truly a mother's worst nightmare. I am mourning my beautiful daughter today, as I have for the last 13 years. We are much closer to the peace that I have been hoping for," Dawn Drexel said (via the Democrat & Chronicle) Meanwhile, authorities have not disclosed what led them to Moody or to Drexel's remains.