Editor’s note: Part of this story has been edited to clarify Brittanee Drexel’s grandmother was reading a letter from Brittanee’s sister.
GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The man accused of kidnapping and killing 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel in 2009 pleaded guilty Wednesday morning in Georgetown County and was sentenced to life in prison.
Before he was sentenced, Raymond Moody, 62, cried while addressing the court and referred to himself as a “monster” and said he was “very sorry.”
Moody pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was given a life sentence on the murder charge and 30 years each on the remaining charges, which the judge ordered to be served consecutively.
“I was a monster, and I took Brittanee Drexel’s life,” Moody said after several of Drexel’s family members spoke in court. “And I don’t have the words to express how horrible I feel and how I’ve felt ever since that day, and I’m very sorry.”
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Chad Drexel, Brittanee’s adoptive father, spoke at the hearing, talking through tears about Brittanee as she was growing up in New York. He described her as “very strong-willed and strong-minded.” He described her as a leader among her friends, and like most teens, said she liked to have the spotlight on her and have a good time.
He said the family suffered through “years of torture” after her disappearance and called Moody a “perverted, sick monster.”
Camden Drexel, Brittanee’s brother, also talked about his sister at the hearing. He described his sister as a “second mom” as they were growing up. He also said he will keep her with him “every single day” and that she is “guiding him every single day.”
Brittanee’s grandmother, Carol Wagner, read a letter from Brittanee’s sister, which said she is angry with Moody because he got to live on after Brittanee’s death. She said she now has trust issues and “walks the world in a true defense” because of Moody’s actions.
The letter said that Moody stole Britanee’s life.
“Now is the time you get your life stolen from you,” the letter said.
Brittanee’s mother, Dawn Pleckan, also spoke, saying she still wears her picture and ashes around her neck. She also called her daughter’s murder “tragic and senseless.”
“Today, we know the truth, and you, Mr. Moody, face the consequences of that,” she said.
She also directed harsh words at Moody.
‘You are a serial rapist and a child predator,” she said. “You should be ashamed of your actions.”
She also said to Moody: “I hope you suffer in prison for the rest of your useless life.”
Moody’s attorney spoke and said he has accepted responsibility and regrets his action.
Drexel, who was from Rochester, New York, disappeared on April 25, 2009, while she was on spring break with friends in the Myrtle Beach area. Authorities said her cell phone last pinged that day near the Charleston and Georgetown county line.
Her remains were found on May 11 in a wooded area along Old Town Avenue in Harmony Township in Georgetown County.
Moody was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice on May 4 in Georgetown County, but he initially was named a person of interest in her disappearance in August 2011. That charge was dropped in Wednesday morning’s hearing.
Authorities announced the additional charges on May 16 after saying that Drexel’s remains had been identified.
After the hearing, the family spoke outside of the courthouse, along with Richardson.
“I think anybody would be remorseful,” Richardson said. “The key is, he wasn’t remorseful until he was caught.”
After the sentencing, the FBI released the following statement:
“Today marks the end of a long, dark chapter for Brittanee Drexel’s family and friends, the Myrtle Beach and Georgetown County communities, and all others who pours their heart and soul into finding the truth about what happened to Brittanee. The truth is she was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and killed in a horrific and incomprehensible way.
“The recovery of Brittanee’s remains in May, and now the guilty plea and sentencing is the culmination, in part, of the law enforcement efforts from the local, state, and federal level, as well as the countless other entities and individuals who played a role in bringing this case to this point.
“The service of justice through this sentencing will never completely alleviate the grief of losing Brittanee, but it is our hope it can help the family continue their healing and focus on cherished memories she left behind.”
Richardson told News13 that Moody’s arrest on the obstruction of justice charge was a way to get him locked up.
“Knowing and being able to prove are two different things,” Richardson said. “And I wanted to be able to prove that what I was saying was true.”
Shortly after this arrest, authorities said Moody confessed to Drexel’s murder and led officials to her remains, according to the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office.
News13 will continue to update this story.