Brittanee Drexel: Murdered or Victim of Human Trafficking?

Published: Updated: 24 comments

Update: May 16, 2022: Body of Brittanee Drexel, N.Y. Teen Who Vanished in 2009, Found in South Carolina — and Suspect Is Charged

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — In April 2009, Brittanee Drexel, 17, from Rochester, New York, asked her mother, Dawn Drexel, if she could go with friends down to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for spring break, a common thing for Rochester teens to do every year. Her mother said no because she did not know these friends.

On April 24, 2009, Drexel asked her mom for permission to go with her friends to Charlotte Beach in New York state for the weekend, and her mother said yes.

The next day Drexel phoned her mother, who believed she was still at Charlotte Beach.

“Mom, I’ll see you tomorrow, I love you,”

In reality, Drexel and friends Jennifer Oberer, Philip Oberer, and Alanna Lippa traveled to Myrtle Beach on April 24, 2009. The group checked in at the Bar Harbor Resort on North Ocean Boulevard.

Brittanee Drexel: photo of friend Peter Brozowitz
Peter Brozowitz

Club promoter Peter Brozowitz, then 20 years old, and his friends – Matthew Abrams, Philip Watson, Keith Cummings, and Anthony Schimizzi – stayed at the BlueWater Resort on South Ocean Boulevard, about 1.4 miles from Drexel’s hotel.

Drexel and Brozowitz were friends in Rochester. On April 24, 2009, Drexel and her friends went to Club Kryptonite, a Myrtle Beach nightclub located at U.S. 17 Bypass and 29th Avenue North, where they ran into Brozowitz and his friends.

Club Kryptonite
Club Kryptonite

The following day between 11 a.m. and noon, Drexel met Brozowitz and his gang on the beach near BlueWater Resort and again around 8 p.m. in their hotel room.

Drexel left BlueWater for Bar Harbor around 8:10 p.m. to return the pair of shorts she was wearing to one of her friends and has not been seen since, according to the police report.

The walk back to Drexel’s hotel should have taken about 30 minutes.
As she headed to her hotel, she began texting with her boyfriend back home, John Grieco. Around 9:15 p.m., the texts stopped. Grieco attempted to text her back, but the texts went unanswered.

Grieco texted Drexel, threatening to call her mother and tell her where Drexel was if she did not respond.

Drexel never did.

Grieco immediately called Dawn Drexel, who began calling and texting Drexel and her group of friends. All calls and texts to them went unanswered.

A few hours later, around 1 a.m. on April 26, 2009, Brozowitz and his friends hurriedly checked out of the BlueWater Resort and returned to Rochester. Upon his arrival, Brozowitz immediately lawyered up.

Brozowitz later went on the Dr. Phil Show to clear his name.

During the investigation, it was revealed that Drexel’s cell phone pinged more than once near the Georgetown County/Charleston County line shortly after her disappearance on April 25, 2009.

A few days later, police received a tip on a possible sighting of Drexel on a bus that had traveled from Georgetown to Myrtle Beach. The person said Drexel exited the bus around 8:30 am near the Bar Harbor hotel, where Drexel and her friends stayed. Police said at the time that others confirmed this sighting.

Almost one year after Drexel disappeared, a college student came forward with a cell phone video he recorded on April 24, 2009, of Drexel sitting on the bed and in a chair on the balcony in his hotel room, texting.

In August 2011, authorities searched Apartment 22 at Sunset Lodge in Georgetown, SC, but released little details. Residents referred to the man who lived there as “Mr. Clean” because of his appearance.

In 2012, police released that man’s name as a person of interest – convicted sex offender Raymond Moody, 53, who resided in the apartment for six months following Drexel’s disappearance.

Brittanee Drexel: photo of her killer Raymond Moody
Raymond Moody

Drexel has never been found. Her family believes she is a victim of human trafficking. Others believe she was murdered and her body dumped in a swamp.

Human trafficking has become a big problem in South Carolina over the last few years, with Myrtle Beach being one of the major U.S. hubs. Police will not rule it out, but that is not the main focus of the investigation and never has been.

Overall, from 1997-2010, South Carolina reported 12 cases of documented sex trafficking. Out of those cases, 12 individual women were victims of this crime, according to Doors to Freedom, an organization that helps victims of sex trafficking.

In 2005, Jose Hernandez-Becerra of Myrtle Beach, SC, was charged with Prostitution/Brothel Owner and Sex Trafficking involving multiple victims.
In October 2009, Jorge Flores-Rojas was convicted of operating a sex trafficking business from Charlotte, NC, to Washington, D.C. He was arrested in Myrtle Beach.

Update: March 25, 2017: K9 unit, excavator on the scene of search for Brittanee Drexel’s remains in Georgetown County

Update: July 14, 2016: Police announced a suspect or suspects have been identified in Brittanee’s disappearance and possible murder. However, no names or additional details have been released so far.

Update: June 9, 2016: FBI believe Brittanee Drexel may have been held captive for several days and murdered.

24 comments

James Combs January 20, 2015 - 6:21 PM

Have any of ya’ll seen mentions of the name of the college student that videotaped Brittanee in his hotel room?

zac3673e7 January 17, 2015 - 11:37 PM

This is a very good report but how was she there when club kryptonite was closed years ago? Theres meany cams on the on the strip no way there more then 1 mi apart that place get so busy they would almost need them every qurter mile i mean i no this cuz iv live there for 11 years i pay close attention to things like that yall might wanna rethank on those cams between the hotels cuz something is missing in this story ut thank u for all ur hard work on this it can go far if people pay attention

truecrimediva January 18, 2015 - 1:08 AM

Hi there! Brittanee disappeared in April 2009. Club Kryptonite closed in November 2009. Thanks for commenting!

Gina January 17, 2015 - 9:59 PM

I hate to say this but she should have listened to her mother. Its murder beach, and as a local at the time she went missing we didnt go out by ourselves. Go as a group and you leave as a group. Many things happen at mb that can not be explained. Just like heather elvis case, one young females will learn to stick together at all times. Im sorry this happened and hope that she is safe.

truecrimediva January 17, 2015 - 10:48 PM

Gina, I agree with your comment. There is safety in numbers usually, and in a place like that, one should never go anywhere alone. Thanks for commenting.

Amanda January 16, 2015 - 4:26 AM

I’m actually from Rochester and FB friends with him so I can see all his posts. He didn’t delete anything from 2009. He has literally hundreds of posts & photos from that year. They’re probably just private. Good article though!

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 8:55 AM

Thanks, Amanda! Oh, yeah that’s probably it. I read that he deleted them in an article so I included it in my post. Thanks for the info!

Lori Glisson January 15, 2015 - 1:42 PM

Why is there no mention of the other guy that was arrested and released from mcclellanville which is beside the pole yard??? He was a person of interest as well, and his brother has already been in prison for this exact thing!!! It’s on YouTube and all, I will always believe he was involved in this! I’m from Georgetown and we have heard too many stories about this and her being her, I even thought I seen her at local car show right after this! I think this needs further investigation!

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:01 AM

HI Lori! I’ll look more into that. Thanks!

Mae Sun January 16, 2015 - 7:41 PM

Yes, his name is Shaun Taylor and he was a person of interest. He had come to our business to get a job and we researched him and that is how I got very involved in this case back then. Look him up, as I cannot copy the link here. He is from McClellanville SC area. 7/21/2010 was around the time he was arrested. He has a terrible reputation in the local area. Employees of ours were concerned we would hire him. I still think Peter B. is more of a suspect, but Shuan & gang are scary too.

truecrimediva January 17, 2015 - 9:23 AM

Thanks for the info! I’ll look it up this afternoon. Very interesting stuff.

Michele January 15, 2015 - 11:10 AM

Great job. I totally agree with you! However, the only thing that is weird that I never knew- why would she ask her mom if she could go to Charlotte Beach for the weekend? That is only 10 minutes from where she lived in Greece (Gates) NY and there is no where to stay there for the weekend. Its just a beach, no hotels, nothing to do. Weird that if that is what she told her mom, her mom would not think that is weird. No one goes to Charlotte beach for a weekend. They go there for a few hours. I could see her asking to go to Hamlin Beach which is also along Lake Ontario, about 30 minutes from where she lived and there is a campground there.

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:02 AM

Hi Michele! That is strange. I’m not familiar with that area, so thanks for that. Can they camp there or nearby? Maybe her mom just assumed she was going to a friend’s house afterwards?

jessica January 16, 2015 - 9:34 AM

There is nowhere to camp legally around there. I have my own opinions on this, the fact that u brought up her mom said that she was going to Charlotte jut furthers my suspicions !!! Ty for the article it was very interesting

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:45 AM

Thanks for commenting!

Mark Jones January 15, 2015 - 10:17 AM

Phil Oberer knows something. Kid is scum

Dawn Haines January 15, 2015 - 9:24 AM

Wow from everything I’ve read in your post it’s crazy to even imagine what her mom and her family are going thru I can only speak for myself if it was me and my own child who’s also a Brittany I think I would of lost it a long time ago.Dawn Drexel is a very strong woman and I have a strong admiration for her.I honestly hope they find brittanee or at least information as to what happened to her.I hope the ppl who were with her come forward and give more information as to what happened so Dawn and her family can finally have either peace or closure.My thoughts and prayers are with the Drexel family.

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:05 AM

I feel for this family, too, Dawn. I can’t imagine either, but we can only hope that someone will come forward one day or LE gets a fresh lead. Brittanee deserves justice and to be brought home.

phil dials January 15, 2015 - 8:36 AM

I grew up in southern WV and myrtle beach was the place all graduating seniors went for their last hangout before going their seperate ways. I have heard myrtle beach is a place where human trafficking is happening. We need to educate our children on the dangers that come along with drinking. All you ever hear about os drunk driving, well in my opinion there is alot more to worry about other than driving under the influence. The decisions these kids make ae e killing them. When you drink you tend to put yourself in bad situations. You think your freinds will look out for you but they are drinking also and it looks like brittanee had the same so called aquaintenses I hope they find her bit I follow your thinking that one of these aquintenses (I refuse to call them her freinds) is responsible for whatever has happened to her.

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:08 AM

I agree, Phil! These kids think nothing will happen to them. Any place that is a Spring Break destination is dangerous and kids should be more careful.

elizabeth January 15, 2015 - 1:51 AM

Nice commentary and I agree with you about the weak link. Years ago there was a terrible multiple murder mess in Austin, TX that infamously became known as the Yogurt Shop Murders. It was a horrific ordeal and there were tons of strange details, motives, suspects. .. all ending in a cold case that went unsolved for years. Two guys eventually spilled the beans by talking smack in a bar one night, hopefully something will happen like that for this girl. A guilty or stupid person will open their mouth and break the case.

truecrimediva January 16, 2015 - 9:10 AM

Thanks, Elizabeth! It’s funny that you mentioned the Yogurt Shop Murders! I was just reading about them not too long ago! That was awful. You know, a lot of cases get solved because the killer or killers open their mouth, especially when they’ve been drinking. How stupid is that! That would be great if it happened in this case. I can totally see that!

s_v_c December 3, 2014 - 2:59 PM

Great write-up!  This case has always bothered me.  I agree that it’s incredibly odd that her friend wanted the shorts returned immediately… in the pictures presented of what she was wearing when she disappeared, they were extremely basic looking black shorts.  And she had just left her own hotel room shortly before… She was only at the Blue Water for such a brief time.
I’d also read that the friends she was there with were actively “mean girl’ing” Brittanee during this trip, and IIRC, that they were a bit older than her and were not part of her usual group.  I’d also read that they also did not contribute to helping the search for Brittanee and never appeared overly concerned about her disappearance. 
I’d be interested to know more what the circumstances were surrounding her going away with this group of friends – was there any previous history/conflict?  Did they invite here, or did she invite herself along?

truecrimediva December 4, 2014 - 7:44 AM

Hi! Thanks for commenting! Great comment and you make some interesting points. I think there is more to this group of “friends” than we may ever know. She didn’t hang out with them much before, I’m guessing, because her mother didn’t know them. So, the fact that they invited her down there AND she just happened to disappear is not a coincidence. But I also think Peter knows more than he’s saying as well.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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