Published August 29, 2016
A teenager who vanished from Myrtle Beach, S.C., in 2009 was repeatedly raped in a gang “stash house” for several days – then she was shot dead and fed to alligators when her disappearance generated too much media attention, the FBI said last week.
The shocking new details about the mysterious disappearance of 17-year-old Rochester, N.Y., native Brittanee Drexel came largely from a “jailhouse confession” that was subsequently substantiated by others with “tidbits” and “secondhand information,” FBI Agent Gerrick Munoz testified in a federal court transcript obtained by The Post and Courier.
The inmate who gave the alleged bombshell confession, Taquan Brown, is serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in a different case. Brown told authorities he was present during the final agonizing moments of Drexel’s life, Munoz said.
Brown claimed to have seen Drexel when he visited a “stash house” – typically a place used to keep guns, drugs or money – in the McClellanville area, the general location where Drexel’s cellphone last pinged.
Munoz said Brown told officials he saw Da’Shaun Taylor, then 16 years old, and several other men “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel.” Brown then said he walked to the backyard of the house to give money to Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor. But as Brown and Shaun Taylor talked, Drexel tried to make a break for it. Her escape attempt was in vain, however, and one of the captors “pistol-whipped” Drexel and carried her back inside the house. Brown said he then heard two gunshots. The next time Brown said he saw Drexel, her body was being wrapped up and removed from the house.
Drexel’s body has never been found, but Munoz said “several witnesses” have told investigators she was dumped in an unspecified McClellanville pond teeming with alligators.
Drexel was last captured on video on April 25, 2009, leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach, where she was staying against her parents' permission. A different inmate serving time at Georgetown County Jail told officials he was informed Da’Shaun Taylor picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and transported her to McClellanville.
Munoz said the FBI believes Taylor “showed her off, introduced her to some other friend that were there…they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation.”
As the media spotlight grew ever brighter on the desperate efforts to find Drexel, the girl was “murdered and disposed of,” Munoz said.
Munoz’s testimony was part of a bond hearing for a federal charge against Da’Shaun Taylor, now 25, stemming from a 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s. Taylor had previously confessed to being the getaway driver for the holdup, cooperated with South Carolina authorities and completed probation. But prosecutors are now trying to bring federal charges and, if convicted of the new charges, Taylor could face a life sentence.
Taylor’s attorney contended the federal charges are a naked attempt to “squeeze” Taylor for information on the Drexel case. Asked by Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker about “the real reason” for the charges and if they had to do with Drexel’s disappearance, Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday said “that would be one” reason.
Taylor was released after posting $10,000 bail.
The FBI declined to discuss Munoz’s testimony or any aspect of the Drexel case with The Post and Courier.