MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina- A teenage girl who disappeared from Myrtle Beach seven years ago was abducted, gang-raped, shot to death and thrown into an alligator-infested swamp in the dense forests near McClellanville, according to the FBI.
FBI agent Gerrick Munoz this week gave the first detailed account of what investigators think happened to 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel after she disappeared in 2009. His account, contained in a federal court transcript is based on a statement from a prison inmate who claims he was present when she was killed according to a report by The Post and Courier.
But a McClellanville woman whose husband and son have been implicated by the inmate says the story is just a bunch of “craziness” adopted by federal authorities desperate to solve a vexing case.
For years, tips repeatedly have sent state and local investigators on wild goose chases from Myrtle Beach to McClellanville searching in vain for clues to the young woman’s disappearance or her remains.
A major break came earlier this year when an inmate who had recently been imprisoned to serve a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter gave a “jailhouse confession,” telling authorities that he witnessed what happened to the girl.
In the transcript, Munoz testifies that the inmate, Taquan Brown of Walterboro, told investigators he went to a “stash house” in the McClellanville area in the days after Drexel was abducted. As he entered the house with a couple of other men, he saw Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor, then 16, “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel,” the agent said.
The FBI agent gave the following account of what the inmate said happened next:
He spotted others also in the room with the girl and Da’Shaun Taylor, and he kept walking through the house to the backyard to give some money to Da’Shaun Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor.
As the two talked, Drexel ran from the house. She was “pistol-whipped” and taken back inside.
Two shots rang out and the inmate assumed Shaun Taylor shot the girl. Then the girl’s body was wrapped up and taken away.
Asked what happened to the girl’s body, the FBI agent testified that it has not been found but that “several witnesses have told us Miss Drexel’s body was placed in a pit, or gator pit, to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators.”
Munoz told the court that investigators have searched several alligator ponds to no avail. He said investigators have been told that the area is peppered with as many as 40 of these ponds. Investigators also have searched the stash house, the agent testified.
‘Showed her off’
Since June when authorities held a news conference revealing their belief that the teen was held captive in McClellanville for days until she was killed, tips from people with “tidbits” and “secondhand information” have been coming in, the FBI agent testified.
Some of those tips corroborate the jailhouse confession, including secondhand information from an inmate in the Georgetown County jail, the agent said.
That prisoner provided authorities with details of what he was told happened to Drexel in the days after April 25, 2009, when a video camera recorded her leaving the beach-side Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach. She had gone there against her parents’ permission from their home in Rochester, N.Y., earlier that month because she wanted to spend time in the warmth of the Grand Strand during spring break. But she vanished during the trip, her last cellphone signal pinging from the McClellanville area.
The Georgetown prisoner told authorities that Da’Shaun Taylor picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and took her to McClellanville. There he “showed her off, introduced her to some other friends that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation,” the FBI agent testified.
By that point, the prisoner said, searches for the missing teen had generated massive media publicity. That created a problem for her abductors and she was “murdered and disposed of,” the agent told the court.
Both the FBI and federal prosecutors declined this week to discuss the jailhouse confession, Munoz’s testimony or the hunt for Drexel.