A Black man in McClellanville, South Carolina nearly confessed to a crime he did not commit after he and his family were harassed for 13 years. Timothy Shaun Taylor, 55, and his 26-year-old son Timothy DaShaun Taylor were falsely accused of raping and murdering 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel back in 2009 in Myrtle Beach.
Shaun Taylor was questioned by the police, and despite no charges being brought against him, his name was attached to the crime for years, as was his son’s.
Then in 2016, the FBI claimed during a court hearing that the father and son killed Drexel before feeding her to alligators in a swamp.
They were also accused of sex trafficking after a jailhouse informant said he saw DaShaun raping Drexel with a group of Black men.
Despite the informant failing the polygraph, the FBI claimed DaShaun killed Drexel after seeing her missing person flyers.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the informant said he was at a stash house to conduct a drug deal with Taylor when he saw Drexel run out of the house before being caught and pistol-whipped.
The jailhouse informant claimed he heard gunshots as he left and assumed Shaun Taylor shot Drexel. He claimed he later saw her body wrapped in a carpet which he believed was disposed of in an alligator-infested swamp.
Timothy DaShaun Taylor was a 16-year-old teenager with one arm who weighed 115 pounds when Drexel went missing.
“You know the movie ’12 Years A Slave’? Living under that stuff, it felt like 13 years a slave,” he said, describing being falsely accused and harassed for the crime..
The younger Taylor told ABC4 News that his family was threatened, fired from jobs and constantly harassed following the court hearing. His mother Joan Taylor said she couldn’t believe the story being told in court. “I was like, ‘how ludicrous does this sound?’ And I just couldn’t believe that they had actually read that off,” she said. “I was angry and just kind of confused.”
Taylor’s lawyer, Ryan McKaig, said he believed the FBI publically named Taylor to force him to confess. “The whole point of them bringing that prosecution was to put his name in that to put pressure on him.”
Joan Taylor was fired in 2016 after the transcripts of the court hearing went public and she struggled to find employment due to the accusations. “Money for us was real scarce,” she added. Her son’s wife was also fired from her job, and the family was repeatedly harassed with death threats.
“We got plenty of bad messages, death threats. People wanted to take it into their own justice. They want to have their own justice system,” said DaShaun Taylor.
DaShaun rarely traveled alone following the allegations because of the death threats and brings another adult with him when he is in public with his children. He described having strangers follow him after recognizing him in public and call him racial slurs.
“They wanted so badly for this to be Timothy. They didn’t look for the real killers,” his mother added. “Our family stood by him and consistently spoke out against the false accusations that too often are directed at people who look like us. It’s an age-old story in America.”
Joan also said that her husband even pondered using what he knew from the media coverage to confess so that his family would be left alone. “If I admit to it, they’ll leave my kids alone,” he said.
Registered sex offender Raymond Moody was finally arrested for the crime in May after law enforcement tracked a vehicle he owned to the area where Drexel was last seen. He confessed to the crime and led the authorities to Drexel’s remains, which were confirmed through dental records and DNA testing.
“The Drexel girl was walking on the sidewalk,” said Moody. “I was smoking pot and she noticed that and walked over to the door and said something about, ‘It smells like good weed.’ I said, ‘Hey yeah you want some? Get in.’ She hopped right in the back without a problem.”
Moody admitted to strangling Drexel and hiding her body near a boat landing before burying it in Georgetown County.
Drexel’s parents were mortified to learn they had blamed the wrong man for their daughter’s death for years. Furthermore, the FBI never apologized to the Taylor family for what they put them through.
“Arresting and sentencing Raymond Moody does not exonerate my son,” said Joan. “Saying the words ‘Timothy Taylor is innocent,’ does. My son deserves that — and so much more.”
One person who did apologize to the Taylors was Drexel’s mother, Dawn Pleckan.
“For 13 years, others were blamed for your actions, and for that I am sorry for all they have endured,” she said.
“They blasted us all over the world,” said Joan Taylor. “You don’t just do that to somebody and walk away.”
McKaig said that the family is planning on taking legal action.