Brittanee Drexel was 17 years old when she went missing while on spring break in Myrtle Beach in 2009; police believe she was murdered, but a body has never been found. But since Friday morning, FBI agents have been searching the woods at the end of a dusty dirt road in Georgetown, SC, in a development related to the Drexel case, the Post and Courier reports. Over the summer, the FBI announced a horrifying theory in the case: that Drexel had been kidnapped, gang-raped, then pistol-whipped and shot after trying to escape; her body, they believe, was thrown into a swamp full of alligators. A prison inmate in an unrelated case gave investigators the info based on what he said he saw at a "stash house" in the area in the days after Drexel vanished. He implicated Timothy Taylor, who was 16 in 2009, and his father Shaun Taylor in the murder.
The FBI says several other witnesses have told investigators that Drexel was tossed into the "gator pit to have her body disposed of. Eaten by the gators." Both Taylors have denied any involvement, and no charges have yet been filed against them. Drexel, who snuck away from her New York home to visit Myrtle Beach, was having a miserable time there, her mother said in 2012, based on texts Drexel sent to her then-boyfriend. She had packed to leave on April 25, 2009, the day she was last seen on a hotel security camera. She disappeared after going to the Blue Water Resort to retrieve shoes she had left in a car there earlier in the day, according to her mom. Live 5 News reports that Drexel was on her way back to the motel where she had been staying when she disappeared. Georgetown is about 50 miles from where Drexel was last seen, 13WHAM reports. (Read more missing teen stories.)