Man accused of Brittanee Drexel’s murder pleads guilty Wednesday

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GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Raymond Moody will serve a life sentence without parole for the murder of Chili teen Brittanee Drexel 13 years ago.

Moody pleaded before a South Carolina judge on Wednesday, who sentenced him to life for murder, 30 years for criminal sexual conduct, and 30 years for kidnapping. It was his first court appearance since he was charged in May.

Investigators say Moody kidnapped and strangled Brittanee while she was on spring break in Myrtle Beach in April of 2009.

Sixty-two-year-old Moody is a convicted child rapist who spent two decades in prison. In May, Brittanee’s remains were found in a wooded area in Georgetown about 45 minutes south of Myrtle Beach. Investigators said Moody directed them to her body.

Moody spoke at the court hearing. “I was a monster when I took Brittanee Drexel’s life,” Moody said. “I don’t have the words to express how horrible I feel and I’ve felt since that day. I’m very, very sorry.”

It’s hard to say exactly why Raymond Moody decided, 13 years later, to admit to investigators that he was Brittanee Drexel’s killer.

Perhaps he knew the evidence had him pinned. Or maybe he was protecting others from being dragged down with him. Whatever the case, he’s no longer keeping quiet about what he did and the pain he brought to so many for so long.

Raymond Moody: “I don’t have the words to express how horrible I feel and I felt every since that day. I’m very, very sorry.”

That was Raymond Moody after pleading guilty to the 2009 kidnapping, rape and murder of 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel. This was Moody immediately after the court hearing in a sit-down interview with Dateline.

Keith Morrison: “By not coming forward, by withholding the information of what you did, you put them through hell.”
Raymond Moody: “Yup. That’s true.”

In the courtroom, Brittanee’s family got to share that hell with Moody.

Chad Drexel: “Every part of my being wants to say and do something about that. But my heart knows that I will not, and Brittanee would not want me to go to jail over that.”

Dawn Pleckan: “No amount of time would be sufficient for the lifetime you took away from Brittanee.”

Camdyn Drexel: “I want to live for her and I’m wearing a cross with her today and I’ll keep it with me every single day.”

Keith Morrison: “How much remorse do you feel about that?”
Raymond Moody: “I feel real bad about it.”
Keith Morrison: “Not enough to have turned yourself in…”
Raymond Moody: “No, not that much. Nope, quite honest.”

In fact, Moody had been a target of the investigation dating back to 2011 but wasn’t charged at the time. But investigators were drawn back to this ex-con and convicted child rapist thanks to advances in cell phone technology and then later when Moody’s girlfriend agreed to cooperate.

Moody told investigators his girlfriend Angel Vause was with him in his SUV when they stopped to ask Brittanee if she wanted to party with them. He claims she got into the vehicle willingly. He says Vause wasn’t present when he eventually raped and strangled Brittanee. Vause has not been charged.

Brett: Do you believe Angel Vause had more involvement than was laid out in court today?
Jimmy Richardson: “Yeah, she’s got more to do. She would have been an accessory. But we had to proffer Angel to get where we are today. And that was some really good leverage.”

It led to this stunning self-assessment today from a killer with a violent history.

Raymond Moody: “I was a monster. I was a monster then and I was a monster when I took Brittanee Drexel’s life.”

After pleading guilty, Moody was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity of parole. As for that Dateline interview with Moody, you can see the entire thing in an upcoming episode in the coming weeks right here on News10NBC.

The father, mother, brother, and grandmother of Drexel gave emotional victim impact statements after Moody pleaded guilty.

Chad Drexel, the father of Brittanee Drexel, spoke in the courtroom about what it felt like as the months turned to years since his daughter went missing. He described Drexel as someone who loved soccer and fashion.

“I’ll never be able to walk Brittanee down the aisle and neither will her blood father or Dawn,” Chad said. “She’ll never be able to see my grandaughter, her niece who is amazing, all that’s snatched away from us.”

Camden, the brother of Brittanee Drexel, said he is going to film school in honor of his sister who was murdered. “I want to live for her,” he said.

Dawn Pleckan, the mother of Brittanee Drexel, said she wears Brittanee Drexel’s ashes and her picture in a necklace to celebrate her life.

“No one wins. The loss of my daughter ignited a fire in me and set me on a mission to strip away the rights and freedoms of people like you,” Dawn said.

Thirteen years later, Brittanee Drexel’s best friends see her killer for the first time in court.

“We’re angry,” friend Jessica Fico said. “We’re sad. We’ve not been face to face with the person that last saw Brittanee and took her life. So that was that was a little hard, but it also gave us the closure that we’ve really been pushing for 13 years.”

Fico watched alongside Drexel’s family as Raymond Moody admitted his guilt to murdering her in Myrtle Beach, S.C., while she was on spring break in 2009.

“Brittanee was just the most likable person and the most friendly,” Fico said. “If you were nice, she was that. She was going to be your friend. She was friends with anybody. She was the light of the room.”

“The best case scenario would have been for Brittanee to be with us and for this to have never happened,” Tarah Friedman said.

Friedman was another close friend and she was also in the courtroom.

“But it did happen and we’re just so thankful and so grateful that we were able to bring her home and receive a form of justice today,” Friedman said.

In May, Brittanee’s former soccer coach Michael Slattery held a candlelight event to remember her and other missing children from the area.

He said the plea brings closure, but they will never forget what happened to her and said Brittanee will always stay with them.

“For the Drexel family, I am so happy for them that they got to this point seeing Chad and Dawn and their reaction today,” Slattery said. “It breaks your heart because you see it and you feel their pain.”

Before the sentencing, the judge said that Moody’s horrific actions 13 years ago caused a lifetime of pain for so many.

You can see the full court hearing here:

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