- Dateline The Last Walk Recap and Commentary
- Aired December 9, 2022, on NBC with Lester Holt and Keith Morrison
A 17-year-old vanishes during spring break in South Carolina.NBC
Keith Morrison is here this week! I like all of the Dateline correspondents but Keith’s sass is my favorite.
Gone in the night
At the end of spring break in 2009, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with friends. Or kind of friends. We find out that Brittanee didn’t know these people very well and she went with two couples, so she was the fifth wheel.
Brittannee’s parents didn’t know that she was out of state. They had told her that she couldn’t go to South Carolina because she was too young. So when Brittannee told them she was at the beach, her parents thought she meant a beach on Lake Ontario near their home in Rochester, New York.
Myrtle Beach is a carnival town, according to Keith, with a Ferris wheel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve never been to Myrtle Beach, but lots of people who live in my area vacation there. I’m closer to the Gulf coast, so that’s usually my vacay spot.
But anyway, Brittanee was having fun at first according to messages she sent her boyfriend John Grieco. The group had gone down on a Thursday morning, but later in the trip, Brittanee had different feelings. She felt excluded by the couples and was ready to come home.
The last day that Brittanee was seen was April 25, 2009, and that day she met some guys on the beach who were also from Rochester. Keith calls them the Rochester boys, so I will too.
One of the Rochester boys was Peter Brozowitz, a 20-year-old club promoter. That night, Brittanee went by herself to Peter’s hotel, which was just a mile down the road from Brittanee’s room. This is the first hint we get that Brittannee was a little too trusting of strangers.
She only stayed at the hotel for fifteen minutes because one of the girls in her group asked her for a pair of shorts Brittanee had borrowed. So, annoyed, Brittanee left on foot on a brightly lit busy Ocean Boulevard.
Brittannee told John that she planned to just pack and go to bed, but her texts suddenly stopped. That was weird enough to John that he called Brittanee’s best friend Tara Friedman.
No one ever heard from Brittanee again.
The search begins
One of Brittanee’s friends had to break the news to her parents that not only was Brittanee in South Carolina but also that she was possibly missing. Her poor parents. What a shock.
Tara, John, and Brittanee’s mom immediately made the 14-hour drive to Myrtle Beach. When they arrived, police had the theory that maybe Brittannee had decided to extend her vacation, but her friends and family didn’t believe that for a second.
I hope one day I will never have to write about how the police didn’t take a person’s disappearance seriously, but today is not that day.
Since the police weren’t canvassing, Brittanee’s group did. They went to every restaurant and store on Ocean Boulevard but no one had seen her.
Tara knew that something was wrong. She felt that Brittanee would never have left her younger siblings.
The police did eventually start looking and they started with the other girls on the trip with Brittanee’s trip mates. Investigators discovered that the group was not getting along with Brittanee, but she was seen walking toward Peter’s hotel alone, so they were eliminated as suspects.
It’s time for a commercial break, but we’re left with the question “What happened at that hotel?”
Clues come in
As you might expect, the media ran with this story. A young pretty white girl gone missing is perfect for ratings.
Because of this attention, tips rolled in. More than 200 people reported seeing her at a gas station in town, but the owners had never seen her.
But she is seen at 8:33 on tape walking into the lobby of the Rochester boys’ hotel. She is seen leaving 15 minutes later at 8:48. Brittanee’s texts stopped at 8:58, so it seems something bad happened in that ten-minute window from 8:48-8:58.
Weirdly, the Rochester boys checked out of their hotel that night, not long after Brittanee left.
Two days after she was last seen, police obtained her cell phone tower data. And at 9:27, her phone was 8 miles south of Myrtle Beach. By 11:57, the phone was in a swampy rural area 50 miles south of Myrtle Beach in Georgetown, South Carolina. The phone went dead after that.
Obviously, Brittanee had gotten into someone’s vehicle in those ten minutes. But why? It seemed unlikely that she was snatched off the road because of how well-lit and busy it was. Did someone she knew pick her up?
At this point, investigators are looking at the Rochester boys very closely, and that makes sense to me. But their cell records show them heading north to a party, so they were ruled out.
Meanwhile, a volunteer group called Community United Effort (CUE) organized a search of that swamp.
And let me tell you, if Brittanee wasn’t already dead, they needed to find her fast. Why, you may ask? Because there was a large population of wild hogs and alligators in that swamp. It’s dangerous. I’ve known people who hunted hogs for fun, and it sounds absolutely terrifying.
The group searched on foot and with drones for weeks, but there was no sign of her.
Ugh, Dr. Phil
The story of Brittanee’s disappearance went viral, and her parents went on the Dr. Phil Show in hopes of getting more eyes on the case, but it was really just a distraction.
Peter Brozowitz appeared via video chat, and he seems like a jerk, but we know he didn’t kill her.
Then a very creepy thing happened. Six months after her disappearance, Brittanee’s dad received a phone call from her number. But it wasn’t Brittanee. Her number had been given to someone else and they wanted to find out who was calling.
The next spring break in 2010, a man contacted police to tell them that he had a video of Brittanee. The night before her disappearance, this guy met her walking on Ocean Boulevard. He offered to walk with her so that she wouldn’t be alone.
Brittanee went back to this guy’s hotel with them. Again, she’s way too trusting. It’s not hard to imagine her getting in a car with a stranger.
But police had a new suspect. convicted rapist named Raymond Moody had been recently released from a California prison. After his release, he returned to his home in South Carolina.
His probation officer decided to check on his whereabouts on the night of Brittanee’s disappearance and what do you know. He was near that swamp 50 miles from Myrtle Beach.
Then the police interviewed Raymond’s girlfriend Angel Voss. She had told Raymond’s boyfriend (they were polyamorous or in an open relationship) that she couldn’t live with what Ray had done.
In this interview, Angel said that Raymond continued to have fantasies about abducting young girls and raping them. He preferred small women who couldn’t fight back. I haven’t mentioned this, but Brittanee was barely five feet tall.
Angel was left alone for a few minutes in the interrogation room, and she said that she hoped he would get arrested.
After this, the police had a warrant to track Raymond’s car. He mostly went to work, but he would also visit a cemetery. Authorities weren’t sure why he was going there.
And police searched the motel that Raymond and Angel had been living in when Brittanee disappeared, but they didn’t find anything.
Now we meet one of Raymond’s previous victims, Kerri Harding. Her story is so hard to listen to but I feel so proud of her for being able to tell it and help put this monster behind bars. Raymond raped her when she was only eight years old. She escaped from him by pretending to need to use the bathroom and running for her life.
So far, it seems like Raymond is guilty, right? Well the FBI is here to mess that up.
At a 2016 press conference, the FBI announced that they believed she had been killed in Georgetown. This was the first time anyone said that she had been murdered, but Brittanee’s body still hadn’t been found.
And Raymond Moody wasn’t the FBI’s prime suspect.
I really just want to blow through this because this man’s life was ruined by these false accusations. A jailhouse informant told the police he saw another inmate name Timothy Taylor with Brittanee a few days after her disappearance at a crash house in McClellanville.
None of this is true, and it’s a waste of time.
But the worst part is that the FBI arrested Timothy for a robbery charge that he had already been convicted of by the state. He served a year in prison. They really just wanted to squeeze Timothy to confess to Brittanee’s murder.
The informant changed his story a number of times. Keith calls the case against Timothy, “squishier than a South Carolina swamp,” and I screamed.
A fresh look
I’m so annoyed about how Timothy was treated, but then the police go back to Angel Voss, the girlfriend of rapist Raymond Moody.
I’m not sure how they got this, but the police had a recording of Angel saying that she wished the police would leave Raymond alone because she had killed Brittanee. Record scratch.
She was re-interviewed in 2022, but now thanks to better technology, they could place Angel’s Ford Explorer in front of Peter’s hotel when Brittanee vanished. Open and closed. It’s never that simple, is it?
At the 2022 interview, Angel says that she had just said she had committed the murder to protect Raymond.
Authorities got a warrant for Raymond and Angel’s home, but they didn’t turn up anything useful.
The best part of the episode
OMG, when I tell you I love Keith Morrison, this is why.
Raymond confessed to the police, but he conveniently removed Angel from the scene of the crime.
For reasons that can only be explained with sociopathy, Raymond sits down with Keith for an interview. And Keith is not here for his shit. He calls him on every lie and inconsistency and it’s beautiful to watch.
Keith even stops Raymond to say, “Bullshit.” I loved that whole thing.
What really happened?
The most likely explanation for Brittanee’s disappearance is that Brittanee accepted a ride to her hotel from Raymond and Angel. Angel’s presence made her more comfortable with getting in the car.
But Raymond took her south instead of to her hotel. But where were Brittanee’s remains?
Raymond took the authorities to her burial site, which was near the cemetery he had been visiting.
In October 2022, Raymond Moody pleaded guilty to charges related to Brittanee’s abduction, rape, and murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
But what about Angel? The police are still investigating, and I hope charges follow for her.
This is a great Dateline episode. I’ve never seen a Keith episode that I didn’t like, and this one is no exception. Brittanee’s story is continuing on and she isn’t forgotten.