(NEW YORK) — The mother of a teen who went missing in 2009 while on spring break is speaking out after authorities announced an arrest in the case.
“I never thought we would get to this place and we’re finally here,” Dawn Pleckan, Drexel’s mother, told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “And now I can get Brittanee back and lay to rest.”
In 2009, Drexel vanished while on a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. On Monday, authorities announced at a news conference that Raymond Moody, 62, was arrested and charged with her murder after her remains were found in a wooded area in Georgetown County, South Carolina, last week.
“In the last week, we’ve confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way, at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets,” said FBI special agent in charge Susan Ferensic.
For 13 years, Brittanee’s parents, Pleckan and Chad Drexel, have searched for her.
Pleckan said her daughter wanted to go on the trip but she remembered telling her no because of a lack of parental supervision. Pleckan said she also had a bad hunch.
“She asked me if she could go and I told her no,” Pleckan recalled. “And she asked me why. I said, because I don’t know the kids you’re going with. I don’t — there’s no parental supervision and something’s going to happen.”
Brittanee ended up leaving for the spring break trip to Myrtle Beach on April 22, 2009, despite her mother’s wishes. Three days later, the teen was seen for the last time on a hotel surveillance camera. She was leaving a friend’s room at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the hotel where she was staying, about a mile-and-a-half walk down the busy Myrtle Beach strip, ABC Rochester station WHAM-TV reported.
She was about halfway to her destination when she disappeared, investigators said, based on surveillance footage from cameras on 11th Avenue and Ocean Boulevard.
Her remains were found less than 3 miles from a motel where Moody had been living at the time of Drexel’s disappearance, Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver said. Authorities allege that Moody buried her body. Authorities did not answer reporters’ questions on how Drexel’s remains were found.
Moody is being held without bond at the Georgetown County jail and is expected to be charged with rape, murder and kidnapping — in addition to a charge of obstruction of justice that he was initially brought in for, said Jimmy Richardson, solicitor for Horry and Georgetown Counties.
In 2012, he had been identified as a person of interest in the disappearance but there was not enough evidence to name him as a suspect, officials said.
Investigators believe Drexel was held against her will and killed.
Pleckan and Chad Drexel have asked for privacy and thanked investigators and volunteers for their work over the past decade.
“This is truly a mother’s worst nightmare,” Pleckan said. “I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have been for 13 years. But today, it’s bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure in the piece that we have been desperately hoping for.”
On Monday, which would have been Brittanee’s 30th birthday according to WHAM, Pleckan said she hopes justice will be served.
“One thing … we’re going to look forward to is to get justice for Brittanee,” she said. “I want people to know out there that Brittanee’s legacy is going to live on.”
Pleckan added, “She had her whole life ahead of her. And this monster took it away from her. I’m glad [Moody] is behind bars so that he can’t hurt anyone else’s child.”
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