- Mark Rein
Premonition: Vanishing Brittanee Drexel
The demons whisper, "you know how the system works." And fear whispers back, "they know you. You're on their list. They can trace you. It's so much riskier now."
Welcome to Crime Raven; true crimes, real-life stories from law enforcement, and issues crime fighters face. This podcast highlights crimes researched by retired Detective Sergeant Mark Rein, using publicly available information, court records, and personal recollections. Content may be graphic, disturbing, or violent. Listener discretion is advised. Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
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Britt was a girl who wanted to get out of Rochester. She wanted to travel, to see the world. She loved her life. She loved her boyfriend, and she loved her mother, but they were suffocating her. There was this great big world out there, and she was gonna be a part of it while she was young.
She looked at her mother, divorced, single, several kids, which is fine, but not the life that Britt wanted. At least not the life she could envision for herself right now. She was 17 on the cusp - of being an official adult. So when her mother being the official bitch told her that she absolutely was not going to Myrtle Beach with friends, Britt was not gonna take no for an answer.
"But, why?" The list for Her Majesty's blessing was beyond reasonable. Of course, there were no adult chaperones going. Yes, they were her friends, even though Her Majesty had never heard of them. They were friends, not the best of friends, but very important friends, who had a car. Their parents were cool. They understood that girls needed some trust. Needed some independence. The coup de grace from dear old mom was the best. She had a feeling, a feeling. Britt knew that mom's feeling was that she didn't want her daughter to go off and abandon her. Her mom actually said she had a premonition that something bad was gonna happen to her if she went off and had fun with her friends. It was typical. Britt loved her mom, but she was clingy. Scared of everything. Britt wasn't like that at all. She wanted to, no, she would suck the life out of the world while she was young. There would be plenty of time to be old and scared and clingy later.
And Britt had proven herself, right? The trip to Myrtle Beach so far had been fun. A little crazy. Everyone was drunk as usual, and a girl had to watch out for the creeps, but mostly it was the biggest, best party ever. Britt did have moments where she felt guilty. Her boyfriend, of course, was jealous. He had to work, but even if he could take off, he wouldn't have wanted to come all this way. So she was gonna do what she could, regular text updates and calls every few hours. She told him nothing that might worry him. There had been some crazy shit going on down here, but he didn't have to know everything.
Then there was her mom. Absence and the heart and all that. Britt didn't like lying to her mother. And, in fact, she hadn't really lied. Mom gave her permission to stay over with one of her known and trusted friends. Okay. That was a lie. But Britt did tell mom that she was going to the beach. All Britt had done was allow mom comfort in a misconception. Ontario Beach was only 30 minutes from home. Britt rationalized that what mom didn't know wouldn't hurt her. It was only the weekend. She would be home soon, no harm, no foul. Besides, if her mom happened to find out the truth, she could always point back to the successful and safe trip as overwhelming proof that she was responsible and could be trusted to lead her own life.
Britt spent time moving between groups of friends. There were so many people that she kind of knew at Myrtle Beach. She wanted to see and be seen. She felt like one of the cool kids just being there. So when she found out that there were people [00:05:00] from Rochester at the other end of the strip, she just had to go down and say hello. She didn't care if it was a half-hour walk; she could meet more people on the way. Besides, it was good to get away from some of these overcrowded hotel rooms and take a walk.
A friend of a friend guy Britttanee knew was staying at a place called the Bluewater Resort. She was excited to just pop in and say hi. She only stayed a little while, but by the time she left their place, it was well past dark Britt walked along the road. As she passed each resort, she could hear the revelry on the beach side. Even though she was alone on the street, it was noisy, giving the illusion of one continuous party. It was a long walk, maybe three miles total. On the way there, boys had cat called from windows and balconies as she passed, but now on the way back, it was quieter with fewer people on sidewalks and in parking lots, but the street was wide and well lit, so Britt felt safe.
She just finished texting her boyfriend, John, that she was walking back to the hotel when a man suddenly approached—startling her. He said something Britt didn't hear. She tried to ignore him and move past. Did he say he was a cop? Then he was pulling her by the arm. She couldn't believe this guy. She tried to pull away, and he wrapped his arm around her neck! He threatened her.
Brittanee's brain was trying to catch up, but things kept moving. Now, she was being forced down into the floorboard of a car, her head pinned to the front seat. She had no idea what was happening. And then they were in the dark.
The FBI Special Agents came into the small windowless room. The door gave an oversized metallic boom as it closed and locked behind them. The suited men introduced themselves to the man who remained seated in his orange scrubs, his left wrist shackled to the center of the table.
One agent faded back and began his vigil, leaning against the concrete block corner of the room while his partner sat across from the inmate. The agent asked," you have some information to share about a missing person?"
Taking out a notebook. The agent asked, " Okay, what's your full name?"
"It's Taquan Brown."
"How do you spell that first name?"
"T- A - Q - U - A - N."
" Okay. Taquan, the message I got was that you wanted to give information about a missing girl."
" I know what happened to her."
"That Drexel girl in Myrtle Beach."
"Okay. What happened?" The agent asked.
Taquan shrugged. "I wanna say I wanna do the right thing, but I'm here for a while. I'm looking to get some time off. I'll help if you help."
The agent, leaning forward, looked earnest said, "Well, Taquan, we aren't in the position to just cut time off for information. If you give us what we need? Real, workable, verifiable information. Maybe we can work something out. Something that'll be beneficial to you and maybe get you back to your life sooner."
" Okay. I know what happened to the girl."
"For the record, we're talking about Brittney Drexel?"[00:08:00]
"Yeah. She'd been missing like since 2009," Taquan said frustrated with the pace.
"Okay. Tell us the story."
"I used to hang out at stash house my boy had out in McClellanville, this was 2009, but we've been going there for a while."
The agent asked, "what's stash house mean to you? Like, where you get your re-ups or what?"
" Yeah, we pick up our piece of package there when it was in. We also, we just go there to chill."
Taquan continued, "so I go by there on Monday, April 27th, and there's this white chick there pulling a train like eight or 10 guys."
"They're raping her?"
"That guy that brought her there. He's like pimping her out."
"You're saying that girl was Brittney Drexel?"
Yeah. It was definitely her back then. I didn't know who she was. That she was a missing girl or anything."
"Was she tied down?"
Taquan shook his head. "No, they probably beat her if she tried to get away. Her face was fucked up. She had a black eye, like her gave her that pimp hand."
"Who are we talking about? Who's the guy who brought her?"
"I don't know his name, but I seen him before."
The agent leaned forward, looking into Taquan's eyes, " You are saying that on April 27th, the day after the girl disappeared, you saw eight to 10 guys raping her at the stash house in McClellanville. You don't know the name of the guy, but he was a regular there?"
"Yeah. Well, not regular like me, but I seen him around. I know he a pimp."
"Did you have sex with the girl?"
"Me? Nah, man. I don't only part of that. When I see that was going down, I went outside. I only stayed a little while."
"You didn't see the girl again? What time was this?"
"In the afternoon? Say like around six."
"Okay, that evening. Did you see the girl again?"
"Well, when I was out front talking, I heard a tussle inside the girl come running out, all naked. Guys chased her on back. I heard shots. So I thought they killed her. I just left. I didn't want no part of that."
"So they killed her?"
"Yeah. But not then. I seen that girl, like, two other times that month. First time I was surprised she was still alive. It was the same thing. The dude still pimping her out. She looked all worn out. Like she wasn't gonna run anywhere anymore. Then I heard what happened."
"And what was that?"
"She did try and get away one last time. Was about the time all that stuff came out on the news, you know, all who she was and where that guy took her from. Well, I think that dude was getting scared. Y'all gonna find her. So when she tried to run her way again, he kilt her with that gauge."
"What did they do with her body?"
" They cut it up and fed it to the Gators. They all over there. And the pits by the river."
The agent lean his chair back and blew out a breath. "Okay. That's a lot. Before we go over that again, we're gonna do a lot of background on this. If I show you photos, you can pick out everyone involved?"
"I don't know them."
"yeah, but if we bring you good pictures of everyone linked to that place, you can tell us who did that. Right?"
"Brittney Drexel did leave the Myrtle Beach area," said South Carolina FBI Senior Agent in Charge David Thomas at a news conference in McClellanville, South Carolina. "We believe she traveled to this area, around McClellanville and the north Charleston, south Georgetown area. And we believe she was killed after that."
The purpose of the press conference was to explain that while law enforcement was not able to release all the details, the FBI had uncovered credible information that led them to conclude that Britttanee Drexel had been dead for some time. They also were offering a $25,000 reward for information that would lead to justice for those responsible for Brittanee's disappearance. In federal court on August 15, 2016, Special Agent Garrett Munoz testified that Taquan Brown had given information that a man identified as Timothy Deshaun Taylor was responsible for kidnapping Brittanee. Brown further stated that he saw Taylor raping the girl and pimping her out to several other men at a secluded trailer they used as a drug house. Agent Munoz stated that Brown saw Brittanee being pistol-whipped and heard gunshots, and it was understood that Brittanee's remains were then fed the alligators in the area. The FBI's press conference and publication of Agent Munoz' sworn testimony in court were, to many observers, the unfortunate conclusion to the mystery of what happened to Britttanee Drexel.
Ray is simply driving around. Colleges. Schools. Bus stops. The beach. With each turn of corner the feelings of anticipation commingled with dread are almost overwhelming. He feels young again, just like in the early eighties, but the fear comes down from having endured the aftermath of those same feelings. 20 years of his life wiped away. "But that was last time," the demons whisper, "you know how the system works." And fear whispers back, "they know you. You're on their list. They can trace you. It's so much riskier now."
Yet, there he is, like a hellish merry-go-round ride. Colleges. Schools. Bus stops. The beach. As he drives, Ray rolls, justification, and rationalization around in his brain. It's why he needs to do what he's about to do and how he can avoid punishment. Last time, his merciful nature, playing catch and release, bit him in the ass. Those little girls didn't keep their secret, and the cops found him.
From there, Ray had been a good boy in prison. He tried to blend in. He avoided beatings, giving the bigger guys what they wanted when they wanted it. But the most important of all, he said the things that were necessary to convince a psychiatrist, to write down the golden phrase, "there's no longer a danger."
It took Ray 21 years to get out of there, but he had cut his time in half by playing the long game. In the interim, he'd had plenty of time to break down his mistakes, promising himself he'd never commit another crime. And if he did, he damn sure wouldn't get caught.
When Ray said goodbye to Soledad Prison, he knew they would find no peace in California. So he returned home to South Carolina. His prison boyfriend followed him across the country. Together, they made a go at normal life. Ray became a skilled craftsman, making custom handmade furniture.
Eventually, the stable life lost its luster. The old impulses, the old demons, crawled their way back into his life. It started with scoring a little dope, and it was all downhill from there. It didn't take long for Ray's lover to bail. And then the demons all came crowding back.
Ray's new death spiral was a matter of record. On a bender, the cops caught him showing off his packer to some little girls. Well, if they hadn't seen one already, it was high time. He hadn't even touched them. No harm, no foul. Right? But the cops didn't see it that way. He took a new conviction, and they discovered the old California shit. The registry. Now people around him knew. How could he be expected to stay the straight and narrow with all that pressure and stress? So when the old urge took him, he started driving. He started looking. Ray told himself that all he was ever gonna do is now is look. Ray knew better than anybody else how full of shit he was.
It's Saturday night. The sun just set, and Myrtle beach is packed with youn