A year after being hit with a lawsuit from Brittanee Drexel’s mother, a South Carolina resort is disputing claims that it allowed the 17-year-old New Yorker to check in before she was kidnapped and murdered on a 2009 spring break trip.
Drexel’s mother, Dawn Pleckan, filed a lawsuit on Jan. 2, 2023, that accuses Raymond Moody, the man who killed her daughter, Bar Harbor Resort Inc. and Smith Family Partners LLC of “wrongful conduct” that resulted in Drexel’s murder while the teen was visiting Myrtle Beach with her adult friends in April 2009.
“While in Myrtle Beach the group was able to check into Bar Harbor Hotel owned and operated by Bar Harbor Resort Inc., and Smith Family Partners, LLC. This is the hotel where Brittanee was made to stay, and at all relevant times she was an unaccompanied minor,” Pleckan’s lawsuit states. “The hotel and its operating group profited from this transaction.”
The lawsuit adds that in April 2009 “the hotel and its operating group had no policies in place to detect and alert law enforcement to the presence of unaccompanied minors traveling without their parents and/or legal guardians … which would have prevented the rape and murder of Brittanee that was to follow.”
In a December court filing, the defendants denied those allegations, arguing that “upon information and belief, Plaintiffs’ decedent was never a registered guest at Bar Harbor Hotel, but may have been friends with Bar Harbor Hotel guest Jennifer Oberer.”
On April 25, 2009, Drexel left the beach and her hotel to meet a friend at the nearby Blue Water Resort, which was the last time anyone other than Moody saw the teenager.
Security footage showed Drexel entering the Myrtle Beach resort that evening.
At 9 p.m. that night, Drexel was walking alone in Myrtle Beach when Moody approached her while driving a Ford Explorer and kidnapped the teenager.
“Defendant Moody kidnapped Brittanee and transported her to a remote campsite near Defendant Moody’s home at the Sunset Motor Lodge in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Prior to the morning of April 26, 2009, Defendant Moody held Brittanee against her will and brutally raped and tortured Brittanee before murdering her,” the lawsuit states.
Moody discarded Drexel’s phone in the North Santee River and buried her body in a “shallow grave.” Drexel’s family went 13 years without knowing what happened to her until authorities found her remains in 2022.
In October 2022, 62-year-old Moody of South Carolina pleaded guilty to kidnapping, raping and murdering Drexel.
Pleckan is also alleging that the hotel owners “created a foreseeable zone of risk by creating, fostering, and maintaining an environment where minors, including Decedent, could stay on their premises unaccompanied by their legal guardians.”
The lawsuit includes various screenshots of negative reviews for the hotel, alleging nefarious activity.
“Decedent fell within the foreseeable zone of risk created by the Hotel Defendants’ misconduct alleged above, as she was an unaccompanied minor female who was brutally kidnapped, raped, and murdered during her stay,” the lawsuit states.