The Chili teen was last seen in 2009 while vacationing in Myrtle Beach
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — As Brittanee Drexel's family gets ready to mark 10 years since the Chili teen's disappearance, there is new information in the FBI investigation.
A secluded property in a small town more than 100 miles away from Myrtle Beach — Jacksonboro, South Carolina — was searched just last week by the FBI. A now-abandoned trailer on the site is where Drexel spent her final days.
That is the claim from jailhouse informant Taquan Brown, who is identified as an eyewitness by the FBI. The trailer belonged to Brown's uncle, Herman, and sits on a four-acre overgrown lot 130 miles away from where Drexel was vacationing in Myrtle Beach.
But how did she end up in rural Jacksonboro? That's a story Brown has been sharing with the Daily Messenger's news partner News 10NBC exclusively during more than a dozen phone calls from prison, first broadcast with his permission in February.
Brown says Drexel was held there, that she was killed there and that she was ultimately buried there for a period of time.
Asked whether the FBI believes Brown's account, FBI agent Don Wood said, "That's a piece of information. As with all pieces of information we gather in this case, we're assessing, looking into, evaluating."
But News 10NBC has confirmed that the FBI was at the property just last week searching the grounds for clues.
"I really can't offer, again, specific details, but we are making progress," Wood said. "We're taking steps, steps lead to other steps, and we're going in the right direction anyway."
The FBI first became aware of Brown in 2016 when he provided to them what he says was his first-hand account.
Brown says he first saw Drexel at a stash house in McClellanville, South Carolina, about 75 miles south of Myrtle Beach in April 2009, two days after she disappeared. He said that on April 27, he saw the girl in the stash house with some eight to 12 men.
Brown says Drexel had a black eye and was being sexually assaulted. He says he saw her one other time in McClellanville but was surprised a few days later to find her in his cousin Herman's trailer in Jacksonboro. He says she appeared to be drugged.
"She was sitting in his house in a recliner and she still had the black eye," Brown said.
As for Drexel's death, Brown says he and a friend witnessed it while walking to Herman's house in late May 2009. Brown says he saw a group of men with Drexel outside including a man he only identified as "Nate."
"Nate shot her with a double-barrel shotgun two times," Brown said. He said they turned around and left so as not to be implicated but claims he knows what they did with her body.
"After she was killed, some of her remains were buried in a garden area and after some time went by, they removed it from the garden area," Brown said. He said he was there when her remains were dug up. He says some of them were taken to a gator-infested pond, others placed in a stolen RV and taken to a scrapyard.
News 10NBC has confirmed through police reports that a neighbor's RV was stolen around that time period.
When asked, Wood said it is "conceivable" the FBI could find DNA evidence from the scene, even 10 years after a body was buried and then removed.
So is Taquan Brown to be believed?
In 2016, the FBI said it had witnesses that would back up Brown's account of what happened.
But Brown says he tried to alert authorities to the Jacksonboro site in 2016. His cousin Herman died of a heart attack the same year. Now, his property, which has remained vacant since his death, could provide important answers although agents remain guarded in their optimism after a preliminary search of the property.."
Brown told News 10NBC that he has taken, and passed, a polygraph. The FBI would neither confirm nor deny that claim.