Family members of a mother who disappeared 17 years ago hope the breakthrough in Brittanee Drexel’s murder investigation will help solve the mystery of her disappearance.
Crystal Soles was 28 when she disappeared in Andrews, South Carolina on January 24, 2005, shortly after calling her parents to tell them she was on her way home.
No trace of Crystal has been found since, leaving her family with no answers and only a plethora of questions about what happened to the mother-of-one in the moments after the call – and whether or not she is still alive.
“We really want to find closure,” Crystal’s son Mitchell Soles, 22, who was just five when she disappeared, told The US Sun.
“We will not rest until we find out what happened and why it happened,” he added. “And we want the person in charge to get what they deserve.”
Mitchell and the rest of his family hope that a breakthrough in the investigation of another local missing persons case could help them finally find answers about what happened to Crystal.
A little over four years after Crystal’s disappearance, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel disappeared in similar circumstances about 20 miles away in Myrtle Beach during an impromptu and ill-fated spring break trip with a group of friends.
The two mysterious cases have long been linked in the local press and among Georgetown County residents.
Those links were reinforced in 2012 after convicted sex offender Raymond Moody was named a person of interest in both cases, just weeks apart.
In a dramatic update on Monday, investigators announced that Moody had been charged with the murder of Brittanee after he reportedly confessed to kidnapping, raping and choking her to death in April 2009.
Last week, Moody led investigators to the site where he allegedly buried her after carrying out the sickening murder, a wooded area on Old Town Avenue about 2.5 miles from where he lived at the time.
Although Moody is considered a person of interest, he has never been charged in connection with Crystal’s disappearance. However, Mitchell said it was his belief that there was a “good possibility” that he was either involved or knew something.
“It’s a good possibility with his background and what’s coming out now with what’s being said,” Mitchell claimed.
“So I think there’s a big chance that he could have something to do with it.”
GONE WITHOUT A TRACE
Mitchell said his family and the Drexels have grown close over the past 13 years. His grandmother, Gail Soles, has assisted Brittanee’s family in numerous raids in South Carolina over the years.
“I was really happy for the Drexel family that they were finally able to close Brittanee,” Mitchell said upon learning the missing teen’s remains had been identified by investigators.
“But with [Raymond Moody] Since I’m also an interesting person in my mother’s case, I’m hoping that maybe now he’s speaking up – and other people are speaking up too – that someone is talking about my mother so we can finally get closure too.
Crystal Soles was last seen on January 24, 2005 at Shaw’s Corner Store in Andrews, South Carolina.
According to Mitchell, she had just called home to ask one of her parents to come pick her up.
Crystal’s mother Gail was at work at the time and her father, who was battling cancer, couldn’t drive to pick her up.
She then insisted that she would make the short walk home, but she never made it back.
“During that walk home, she disappeared or was kidnapped or whatever happened to her,” Mitchell said.
Crystal, while a doting mother, was struggling with drug addiction at the time of her disappearance.
Gail has revealed in previous interviews that it wasn’t uncommon for Crystal to disappear for days when she was abusing drugs.
But although she usually left unannounced, she always tried to call home to talk to Mitchell, which she was unable to do after her permanent disappearance.
“To my knowledge, she got into the wrong crowd,” Mitchell said. “Obviously at that age I couldn’t really tell, and I guess my grandparents didn’t want me to know what was going on.
“But I remember her pretty well…she was definitely a great mom who took care of me in every way she could.
“I’ve always enjoyed being around her and spending time with her. We were really, really close.”
Mitchell said he remembered the last time his mother called home before she disappeared.
Although he found it “annoying” when she didn’t return home, Mitchell said it would be several weeks before the reality of his mother’s disappearance — and the likelihood that he would never see her again — sink in.
“The last time I saw them, I remember we were in a bed with the cartoon ‘The Smurfs’ on TV,” Mitchell said.
“She then told me she was coming back and that she loved me, and then she left.
“It was kind of upsetting, but at the time, because I was so young, it didn’t hit me right away. I really felt that she was gone and probably wasn’t coming back a few weeks later – that’s when it was actually scheduled.
“I was too young to understand it, but over the years my family and friends have all been a tremendous support to me.”
As the days turned into months and the months turned into years with no concrete clues as to where his mother might be, Mitchell told The US Sun that “not knowing” was the hardest part of everything.
“I’ve learned to deal with it over the years [not having my mom around]I think,” he said.
“It’s never going to be 100% right when she’s gone but as far as I know what happened I think that’s one of the biggest concerns because it’s hard to lose a parent but not knowing why they left and how they did so also takes another toll.”
The last clue to Crystal’s disappearance came in August 2013, when investigators received new information they hoped would lead to her whereabouts.
Investigators and a group of volunteers searched a wooded area in Andrews and recovered remains. However, these remains later turned out to be animal rather than human, and Crystal’s trail went cold again.
Following Moody’s arrest for Brittannee’s murder, Mitchell said he hoped media attention would bring a second wind to the investigation into his mother’s disappearance.
“I haven’t been contacted by police since Moody was charged … but I hope that changes,” he said.
“We need a degree. We need to know what happened so the thought of not knowing can finally be over—the who, the what, the why, the how.
“It would allow us all to finally find peace.”
BRITTANE DREXEL: CASE CLOSED?
The discovery of the remains of Brittannee Drexel last week ended a 13-year investigation.
The 17-year-old, originally from Rochester, New York, was last seen alive on April 25, 2009 on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.
She was on her way to a meeting with friends and a nearby hotel when she disappeared.
Her mother, Dawn Drexel, had banned Brittnee from traveling to Myrtle Beach, but she ignored her mother’s orders and traveled to the popular spring break destination with a group of friends without her knowledge.
More than a decade later, her body was found in Georgetown County, about 20 miles from where Crystal Soles’ cellphone last pinged.
“This really is a mother’s nightmare,” Dawn Drexel said at a news conference Monday. “I mourn the loss of my beautiful daughter, Brittanee, as I have for 13 years. But today is bittersweet. We are much closer to the closure and peace we have been desperately hoping for.”
Raymond Moody, 62, has been charged with first-degree murder, obstruction of justice, kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct.
Police claim he confessed to kidnapping and fatally strangling the teenage girl on the same day she disappeared.
“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter,” said Dawn Drexel. “The search for Brittanee is now a quest for Brittanee’s justice.”
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/5359137/brittanee-drexel-murder-cold-case-missing-woman-raymond-moody/ The mystery of missing mother Crystal Soles, who disappeared in 2005, could be cracked after Brittanee Drexel’s update, family hopes