When loss of life is involved, particularly in a cruel, violent manner, it is only natural that there is public outrage. People rush to judgment to try to justify their opinions in the heat of the moment – in the acute phase. Concerning the location in which a crime occurred, we often broad brush all residents and their culture as inherently evil. This is wrong. No town or city should be thought of as a reincarnation of White Pines Bay – the fictitious location of the Bates Motel or Amityville, New York, just because a criminal element has frequented a town.
After years of searches and investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, the rural town of McClellanville, South Carolina has unequivocally been pinpointed as the place where 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel spent her final days on earth, rather than her upstate New York home. If this is so with irrefutable evidence, we must believe it. But, in the hearts of the Drexel family and friends, this cannot be imagined, without a perpetrator, without her precious body.
Given this information, it does not mean that all residents of McClellanville are heartless. We have to ask, why have someone not come forward, particularly with a $25,000 reward publicized for credible information. If I had to speculate, perhaps, they may be scared, frightened of retribution. Their silence could mean that they don’t have a good reason to trust law enforcement. Possibly residents feel that any information they may have “in the cobwebs of their mind” times 7 years ago is insignificant. Possibly they do not believe that offering any information will lead to a monetary reward for them personally, so why risk it?
Such is the thinking that tries men’s souls and keeps families and law enforcement constantly on edge.
History and Demographics
McClellanville, situated in northeast Charleston County is on US Route 17 heading 23 miles northeast to Georgetown and 38 miles southwest to Charleston. McClellanville is populated by 500 or so people – a Mayberry RFD by some standards. This town, in the parish of St. James –Santee was incorporated into the Church of England in 1706, but settled by the French as early as 1605. It has always been an agricultural economy. They feature many historic properties, small town life, Bible school and their trademark is their shrimping fleet and seafood industry. Natural resources include Jeremy Creek, running through the center of town, and south toward the Intercoastal Waterway adjacent to Romain National Wildlife Refuge (66,287 acres). Nearly 57% are age 25 to 64, with almost 20% – age 65 + years.
They showed their resilience in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo destroyed much of the town. People were saved by crawling into a space above a false ceiling in the high school-storm shelter.
What Happened to Brittanee?
It doesn’t make sense to me that a possible human trafficker or sexual predator would “stick around Mayberry” for several days with an innocent teenager who could clearly be distinguished by her northeastern dialect without notice. Crime never makes any sense… Brittanee was abducted and held against her will we are told. Was she “free to do errands for this man” but clearly under his control around town under threat of death, or forced to perform other favors in a hotel or abandoned property? Did the perpetrator have ties to McClellanville or was he a transient predator? Did Brittanee reach out and try to secretly ask for help which ultimately lead to her death? Was she persuaded with initial sweet talk and lies that her family didn’t care about her and to come on an adventure? We may never know.
As a northeasterner, I drove from Myrtle Beach through McClellanville to Charleston a couple of years ago and barely noticed this nondescript town.
I thought this at the time, as I am a suburban –city slicker at heart. Now, I will never forget as it has a much deeper meaning now.
How do we encourage people to have e a conscience for the betterment of others no matter what the risk? This is God-fearing, church going folks after all! It would truly help if the media put a positive spin on proactivity. The little town ofMcClellanville could be known forever as “the town that saved a family, saved a girl with such promise from New York!” They did the right thing for missing persons everywhere! Let us all hope and pray that they do!
Profiles and Contact Information for Brittanee-
Well written and hopefully someday Brittanee’s parents and family will have closure. Only a cruel and cold hearted person would allow a community and family to be torn apart for this many years. She was a friend of my daughters and will forever be in our hearts!
Carleen: Thank you so much for writing and your comments! Brittanee had many in her extended family! Our hope is that through perseverance – sheer force of will to do the just thing, these people will step forward, irrespective of monetary rewards! Thank you for continuing to circulate it and raise awareness! Sincerely, Ladyjustice
Could the McClellenville police that were arrested for bribing girls to participate in catfighting be involved in this case? Maybe fights were posted online so they know that people saw her? He was fired as well as several others for covering up. I think it’s a possibility that they are related to her death.
Tracy: That’s an excellent point and sounds plausible to me! I read about those scum police officers!
If the age percentage rate is correct, it makes absolutely no sense as to why someone does know what happened to this girl. Unless the authorities know who,what,when,where,and why????!!!! Which would not surprise me at all. In articles, I read there’s a suspect, if this is true then do something..
I think maybe you should have spoken to residents of McClellanville before you jumped to conclusions about them. I am born and raised in McClellanville. We as a community have always come together to help law enforcement in any way we can. In fact, many of us have ties to DNR officers, police officers, judges, attorneys, etc. Even though Brittany was not from here, you can be absolutely certain that any information the majority of people may have become privy to has been given to law enforcement. If you have ever been to our remote town, you would know that it includes part of the massive Francis Marian National Forest, vast areas of swamp lands, tidal creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans and if someone wanted to hide a crime it would be very easy. The suspects they have in this case are tried and true criminals and masters of deception and secrecy. Please don’t group all of these good people into a class with a few bad apples. When this investigation first began, McClellanville residents were the first to jump on the band wagon and aid in any way possible. We ALL hope and pray that Brittany’s family finds closure and peace and we will continue to support our men and women in blue as they try their hardest to bring Brittany’s assailants to justice regardless of a monetary award!
I second Erin’s remarks. “Mcclellanville” encompasses a large area of unincorporated Charleston County and I would be shocked to find that this poor girl was ever within the actual town limits. If she was then she would surely have been seen and noticed. There are numerous places in our area where someone could hide out for a long time without ever being seen. I sincerely hope the person or people who did this to her are brought to justice but please don’t think that Mcclellanville residents are heartless or worse. Our hearts are hurting with yours. We want nothing more than to bring this person to justice and bring some closure to her family.
If you read my blog, in the beginning I clearly stated that no one is blaming the entire town for the ills of a few. But, we must use McClellanville, as we have no identity name to use when writing about it. If someone knows something, anything, their silence makes them just as guilty as those who perpetrated the crime. The FBI is very clear that their evidence leads to your town. Even if I had access to any townspeople, it is very doubtful that they would have spoken to me as a national crime victim advocate and homicide survivor as well. I feel your pain for the blame. Therefore, the community needs to rally together to help the Drexel family to find resolution and rest for Brittanee…and restore your town to wholeness.LJ
I commend you for your work as a victims advocate! I sincerely do! I worked for years in the judicial system and I watched countless numbers of victims come through the courtroom doors. I’m happy you are out to make a change.
However, I find your comments ignorant and quite frankly offensive. Because, as you have stated, you have had no direct contact with anyone from McClellanville, I feel it is premature and completely unfounded that you assume we haven’t “rallied” together. Our town is approx 500+- in population and I can absolutely, 100%, without a doubt tell you, that in time of crisis, this town rallies! Whether its a death, a missing child, a financial need, a lost dog, a broke down car, a cup of sugar short, a power outage, a broken leg (you catching my drift?), every member of the community comes knocking on your door. So for you to assume, which is exactly what you are doing, that we as a community are sitting around singing Kumbaya and refusing to give any and all knowledge we may have to law enforcement is complete and total conspiracy on your part.
As Alicia stated, there are vast areas of land around our towns limits, and there are small communities in those areas. McClellanville is on the radar because its the biggest “town” nearest to where that poor girl went missing. And not to point out the obvious, but don’t you think that if she was abducted, held prisoner, and murdered, that her kidnappers probably wouldn’t parade her around town for everyone to see? As a victim advocate, aren’t you aware of all the children who are kidnapped and held prisoner for YEARS in basements? Kids abducted and held in homes of subdivisions or with neighbors in close proximity? Should we blame the neighbors for not knowing?! I mean come on! People hide things everyday!
And another thing, we dont need to be restored to “wholeness”! WE ARE WHOLE; because we know we have done everything we know how to do, and we will continue to. Search parties, asking questions, helping law enforcement with leads. Whatever is asked of us is provided. Short of the culprit coming forward what more would you have us do?!
Also, your “doubt” in your ability to contact someone from our town and get information is basically a bad excuse for being able to cast blame onto a whole town.
Sorry, but name calling does NOTHING to further the cause or to clear the name of your town.If someone else reading this wants to suggest a responsible representative from McClellanville to interview, I’ll consider it so that they can give their perspective. My primary goal was to assist the Drexel family and aid in the cause to reach out to the masses as the FBI recommended.
More Black Lives Matter thugs out for a good time.
Hi Donna. My husband and I are residents of McClellanville. I would like to first say, that we all admire your tenacity and applaud your advocacy for all victims. So many kids/adults go missing daily and as a mother, I cannot begin to fathom the pain and anguish that Brittannee’s family and friends are experiencing. God bless them. I do have to say a few things regarding this town we live in. McClellanville encompasses alot of surrounding areas. There is “McClellanville proper”, which is where we live and it’s essentially ” down town historic district”. We are approx 3.5-4 square miles. The people here are the most caring, Friendly, helpful people you will ever meet. Both Erin and Alicia’s comments were on target. Help is here in abundance. Its a small, tight knit community and as you stated, it is very ” MAYBERRY RFD”, where people still leave their doors unlocked, kids riding their bikes to and from school, whether you are a resident or not, people wave when you pass by. We are approx 520 people strong. My husband taught at Lincoln Middle/High school, he was the Head football coach for 3 yrs until the school closed this yr. When we moved here, I was not sure if I would like living in such a small rural area, as I’m from Ocean City MD, which I’m sure you know is a large beach resort on MD eastern shore. But almost immediately, we were welcomed into this wonderful community and treated like family. All the nasty comments made about our town being cowardly and a st*t hole, or backwards is completely unnessary. There are bad, evil, cold hearted people living in every community across our nation and abroad. Awful people without a conscience. Unfortunately, there seems to be such a person living outside of our community. It is truely sad the world we live in today. I want all your followers to know that Brittannees disappearance near or around the surrounding area, has affected us deeply in McClellanville. Everyone we know has followed this tragedy since becoming aware of it. Alot of us were at the FBI conference the day it was held here in June. My husband and I, as well as teachers from the school and our community and friends. Our hearts just shattered while listening to her parents. The “SUSPECTS” in her abduction and disappearance do NOT live in McClellanville proper. They live on the outskirts of McClellanville. For those who don’t know about this area, let me say, you will either love it or hate it. Its not everyone’s cup of tea. There are areas that are very densely wooded, and lots of swamps, rivers, tributaries. IF someone knew the area well, it would be relatively easy to cover a crime, to abduct someone and dispose of evidence. Unfortunately, this is a true fact. Alot of areas are remote in the sense that there are no houses in some areas, or if there are, they have long been abandoned, or are just a dilapidated mess, that was left probably when hurricane Hugo hit here in “89”. As a added note, there have been many searches done here over the last few yrs. Some by LE and some by our towns people. My husband was one of them that searched as well. This community has and always will rally around people inside and outside of the community that needs our help. The media always seems to find the few people that want their 15 mins of fame. To get on TV. You don’t get to see the “REAL” community as a whole, just that 1 or 2 people that say ” WE DONT WANT TO GET INVOLVED”. Those ppl interviewed DO NOT represent McClellanville. My thoughts are that this beautiful young woman was not in the area of McClellanville proper, but, sadly was probably in parts of the Santee/Marion Frances Forest area. Had she been here, or been able to escape, believe me, ALL of us here would have gone to whatever extreme necessary to keep her safe and returned to her family. We aren’t cowards, or unfeeling or cold hearted. But, if you honestly don’t know something, what would the public have us do? Lie? Make up stories, give false tips/info, so we aren’t villified as some uncaring community that just looked the other way when a young woman went missing? The truth is out there. I agree. Someone does know what happened. Everyone here whole heartedly agrees with that, I just think the FBI, and local LE needs to broaden their search to areas outside of McClellanville. I’m not a criminal investigator, but I doubt these deviants would ” show her off” for fear of being snitched out, or blackmailed or a plethora of reasons. In closing this, I would invite you to come to MCClellanville, stay at my home, and get the opportunity to meet the REAL citizens of this small town. And Make your own determinations. To see how this community does care, does rally, and to realize that people grouping the town as cowardly is so far from the truth. Thank you for reading this, it was written with respect and admiration. And from all of us in McClellanville, we will continue to assist with this investigation and forever hold Britannee and her family in our hearts and Keep them in our prayers. Take care Donna. Robyn
Thank you Robyn for your thoughtful and detailed account. I certainly appreciate your perspective and never intended to accuse all residents. It was my attempt to follow what the FBI recommended in their press conference, to try to flesh out the bad guys or any witnesses that could potentially come forth. That remains the intention with my loyalty to the Drexel family, all missing persons and unsolved homicides families as well as the Cue Center. I think it would be valuable for us to have a conversation. Perhaps it might be of benefit for me to write a follow up blog…I’m not sure. In any case, if you are willing to share and you would like to contact me you can reach me at
firstname.lastname@example.org we can take it from there in the future.
Thank you for caring enough to write and share! Respectfully, LJ
My comment is this: If you are truly God fearing people in the town of McClellanville, and you know anything about the murder of this innocent, sweet girl, then not going to the authorities in my view, will be unforgivable in the eyes of God.
Wow I just happened upon this article after watching a show on Brittany and I agree Donna seems way off base. To blame a whole town. Every town across this country has someone who is not what they seem. You do not condem the whole town.
Barb- If you read my blog carefully, I make it clear that I am not indicting the entire town! However, a term must be used to refer to where evidence lies..and so McClellanville was used, as it is the location pinpointed by the FBI. My attempt was to make those accountable, be accountable; to step up and do the right thing. I suggest that you don’t be so quick to judge me until you have read my hundreds of writings. But, everyone is entitled to their opinion. LJ
Almost ten years later and no justice. What a disgrace. These aren’t criminal masterminds here; they’re brainless, violent animals, protected by a insular community void of human kindness or compassion: not McClellanville, but rather South Santee. It’s just a matter of time before another girl is brutalized and murdered.
im sure she was used for sex and then discarded. thats usually what happens when pretty young women go missing
It is now summer of 2022 and Britanee’s remains were found in Georgetown county. Raymond Moody has been charged with her murder. Nothing about McClellanville was mentioned by police. This happened a good distance from there.