May 16 (UPI) -- Authorities in South Carolina announced Monday that they have recovered the remains of a New York teen who went missing while on spring break in the state 13 years ago.
Investigators found the remains of Brittanee Drexel in a wooded area west of Georgetown, S.C., last week and confirmed they belong to the 17-year-old from Chili, N.Y., through dental records and DNA, Georgetown County Sheriff Carter Weaver announced during a press conference.
"To the Drexel family, we mourn with you and pray for you as you cope with the tragedies of 13 years ago," said Weaver. "No one deserves to go through this, and our hearts go out to you. Our only hope is that this finding allows your family to grieve properly for Brittanee."
Raymond Douglas Moody, 62, was charged with murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with Drexel's death, Weaver said Monday.
He had been arrested May 4 on a charge of obstruction of justice in the case and was being held in the Georgetown County Detention Center.
Drexel disappeared on April 25, 2009, while visiting Myrtle Beach, S.C., for spring break, where she was raped and strangled to death, according to arrest warrants.
"In the last week, we've confirmed that Brittanee lost her life in a tragic way at the hands of a horrible criminal who was walking our streets," FBI special agent in charge Susan Ferensic said.
Drexel was last seen leaving a friend's room at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the hotel where she was staying.
Authorities scoured the area between Myrtle Beach and McClellanville, where a cellphone tower recorded her phone's final signal, but neither the searches nor appeals for tips led to the whereabouts of Drexel or her remains.
Moody allegedly buried her body shortly after her disappearance and her remains were ultimately found less than three miles from a motel where he had been living at the time.
Drexel's parents, Dawn Pleckan and Chad Drexel, thanked investigators and volunteers for their efforts.
"This is truly a mother's worst nightmare," Pleckan said. "I am mourning my beautiful daughter Brittanee as I have been for 13 years. But today, it's bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure and the peace that we have desperately been hoping for."