Brittanee Drexel: FBI searches new location after News10NBC investigation
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WHEC) — News10NBC is bringing you exclusive new information in the search for Brittanee Drexel but could it lead to new answers?
It comes a decade after the Chili teen vanished while on spring break.
As the family gets ready to mark 10 years since Drexel’s disappearance, News10NBC has information about the case that took us to a secluded property in a small town more than 100 miles away from here, which we can confirm was searched just last week by the FBI.
This now-abandoned trailer is where Drexel spent her final days. That is the claim from jailhouse informant Taquan Brown who is identified as an eyewitness by the FBI. The trailer belonged to Brown’s uncle, Herman, and sits on a four-acre overgrown lot 130 miles away from where Drexel was vacationing in Myrtle Beach.
Taquan Brown: "I don’t know what you all know, but Drexel wasn’t killed in the stash house. She was killed in Jacksonboro."
But how did she end up in rural Jacksonboro, South Carolina? That’s a story Brown has been sharing with News10NBC exclusively during more than a dozen phone calls from prison which we first broadcast with his permission in February.
News10NBC’s Brett Davidsen: "As you know, we’ve been speaking with Taquan Brown pretty frequently on the phone and he says that Brittanee was killed in Jacksonboro, that she was held there, that she was killed there and that she was ultimately buried there for a period of time. Is that an important piece of information to you and do you believe him when he says that?"
FBI agent Don Wood: "That’s a piece of information. As with all pieces of information we gather in this case, we’re assessing, looking into, evaluating."
But News10NBC has confirmed that the FBI was at the property just last week searching the grounds for clues.
Davidsen: "Since our last investigation into this, a couple of months ago, we know that you’ve been to that location in Jacksonboro. Did anything come from that search?"
Wood: "I really can’t offer, again, specific details, but we are making progress. We’re taking steps, steps lead to other steps, and we’re going in the right direction anyway."
The FBI first became aware of Brown in 2016 when he provided to them what he says was his first-hand account.
Brown says he first saw Drexel at this stash house in McClellanville, South Carolina, about 75 miles south of Myrtle Beach in April 2009, two days after she disappeared.
Taquan Brown: "On this Monday, April 27, I saw the girl…"
Davidsen: "In the stash house?"
Brown: "Yeah, there was about 8-12 guys in there."
Brown says Drexel had a black eye and was being sexually assaulted. He says he saw her one other time in McClellanville but was surprised a few days later to find her in his cousin Herman’s trailer in Jacksonboro. He says she appeared to be drugged.
Brown: "She was sitting in his house in a recliner and she still had the black eye."
As for Drexel’s death, Brown says he and a friend witnessed it while walking to Herman’s house in late May 2009.
Brown says he saw a group of men with Drexel outside including a man he only identified as "Nate."
Brown: "Nate shot her with a double-barrel shotgun two times."
Brown says they turned around and left so as not to be implicated but claims he knows what they did with her body.
Brown: "After she was killed, some of her remains were buried in a garden area and after some time went by, they removed it from the garden area."
Brown says he was there when her remains were dug up. He says some of them were taken to a gator-infested pond, others placed in a stolen RV and taken to a scrapyard.
News10NBC has confirmed through police reports that a neighbor’s RV was stolen around that time period.
Davidsen: "Hypothetically, if she were to have been buried in a place 10 years ago and then the body removed, would it be still conceivable that you could find DNA evidence from a scene like that?"
Wood: "It’s conceivable."
So is Taquan Brown to be believed?
In 2016, the FBI said it had witnesses that would back up Brown’s account of what happened.
But that was before we first reported about the Jacksonboro, South Carolina, property in February.
Davidsen: "Do you know why that location wasn’t searched sooner?"
Wood: "Probably just a matter of knowledge."
But Brown says he tried to alert authorities to the Jacksonboro site in 2016. His cousin Herman died of a heart attack the same year. Now, his property, which has remained vacant since his death, could provide important answers although agents remain guarded in their optimism after a preliminary search of the property.
Davidsen: "How important now is Jacksonboro to your investigation?"
Wood: "That remains to be seen."
Brown told News10NBC that he has taken, and passed, a polygraph. The FBI would neither confirm nor deny that.