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Archive for August, 2016

Brittanee Drexel was last captured on video leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach.image www.crimefiles.net

Brittanee Drexel was raped in a gang “stash house”. Picture: Missing Brittanee Marie Drexel

A TEENAGER who vanished from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 2009 was repeatedly raped in a gang “stash house” for several days — then she was shot dead and fed to alligators when her disappearance generated too much media attention, the FBI said last week.

Fox News reports the shocking new details about the mysterious disappearance of 17-year-old Rochester, New York, native Brittanee Drexel came largely from a “jailhouse confession” that was subsequently substantiated by others with “titbits” and “second-hand information,” FBI Agent Gerrick Munoz testified in a federal court transcript obtained by The Post and Courier.

The inmate who gave the alleged bombshell confession, Taquan Brown, is serving a 25-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter in a different case.

Brown told authorities he was present during the final agonising moments of Drexel’s life, Munoz said.

Brown claimed to have seen Drexel when he visited a “stash house” — typically a place used to keep guns, drugs or money — in the McClellanville area, the general location where Drexel’s cellphone last pinged.

Munoz said Brown told officials he saw Da’Shaun Taylor, then 16 years old, and several other men “sexually abusing Brittanee Drexel.”

Brown then said he walked to the backyard of the house to give money to Taylor’s father, Shaun Taylor. But as Brown and Shaun Taylor talked, Drexel tried to make a break for it.

Her escape attempt was in vain, however, and one of the captors “pistol-whipped” Drexel and carried her back inside the house. Brown said he then heard two gunshots.

The next time Brown said he saw Drexel, her body was being wrapped up and removed from the house.

Brittanee Drexel was raped in a gang “stash house”.image ww.crimefiles.net

Brittanee Drexel was last captured on video leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach. Picture: Missing Brittanee Marie Drexel

Drexel’s body has never been found, but Munoz said “several witnesses” have told investigators she was dumped in an unspecified McClellanville pond teeming with alligators.

Drexel was last captured on video on April 25, 2009, leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach, where she was staying against her parents’ permission.

A different inmate serving time at Georgetown County Jail told officials he was informed Da’Shaun Taylor picked Drexel up in Myrtle Beach and transported her to McClellanville.

Munoz said the FBI believes Taylor “showed her off, introduced her to some other friend that were there … they ended up tricking her out with some of their friends, offering her to them and getting a human trafficking situation.”

As the media spotlight grew ever brighter on the desperate efforts to find Drexel, the girl was “murdered and disposed of,” Munoz said.

Brittanee Drexel’s body has never been found image www.crimefiles.net

Brittanee Drexel’s body has never been found. Picture: Missing Brittanee Marie Drexel

Munoz’s testimony was part of a bond hearing for a federal charge against Da’Shaun Taylor, now 25, stemming from a 2011 robbery of a McDonald’s. Taylor had previously confessed to being the getaway driver for the holdup, co-operated with South Carolina authorities and completed probation. But prosecutors are now trying to bring federal charges and, if convicted of the new charges, Taylor could face a life sentence.

Taylor’s lawyer contended the federal charges are a naked attempt to “squeeze” Taylor for information on the Drexel case. Asked by Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker about “the real reason” for the charges and if they had to do with Drexel’s disappearance, Assistant US Attorney Winston Holliday said “that would be one” reason.

Taylor was released after posting $10,000 bail.

The FBI declined to discuss Munoz’s testimony or any aspect of the Drexel case with The Post and Courier.

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was republished with permission

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Henry Sapiecha

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The stolen vehicles had a common software that’s used by auto technicians and dealers.

car-software-used-steal-cars image www.crimefiles.net

The thieves reprogramed cars’ security so their own electronic keys would work to open them.

Two men jailed in Houston and accused of using pirated computer software to steal more than 100 vehicles may have exploited an electronic vulnerability to advance auto theft into high-tech crime.

Michael Arce, 24, and Jesse Zelaya, 22, focused on new Jeep and Dodge vehicles, which attract big money on the black market in Mexico, authorities said. The men allegedly used a laptop computer to reprogram the targeted vehicles’ electronic security so their own key worked.

The stolen vehicles had a common software that’s used by auto technicians and dealers, Houston police officer Jim Woods said.

“As you get more and more computers installed in vehicles — if somebody has that knowledge and that ability, they can turn around and figure out a way to manipulate the system,” he said.

Fiat Chrysler, which makes Jeeps and Dodges, and police are investigating how the thieves got access to a computerized database of codes used by dealers, locksmiths and independent auto repair shops to replace lost key fobs, said Berj Alexanian, a spokesman at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He said the code database is national and includes vehicles in areas outside of Houston, although he wasn’t aware of similar thefts elsewhere.

“We’re looking at every and all solutions to make sure our customers can safely and without thinking park their vehicles,” Alexanian said Friday.

With more automotive tasks becoming computerized and more cars being linked to the internet, such thefts are likely to increase across the globe, said Yoni Heilbronn, a computer security expert.

The auto industry has worked hard in the past year to develop protections, but hackers with multiple motivations will always be looking for ways to get in, said Heilbronn, vice president of marketing for Argus Cyber Security, an Israeli company that works with automakers.

While increased computerization brings safety benefits, Heilbronn foresees more thefts, malicious software being installed that shuts down cars until a ransom is paid, and even attacks that disable many cars at a time. The industry, he said, has to install multiple layers of defense.

Automakers have been working together to develop best practices and to share information on cybersecurity threats. Companies, including Fiat Chrysler, have their own hacking teams and have offered bounties to outside hackers if they find vulnerabilities.

The Houston investigation began in late May with the theft of a Jeep Wrangler near downtown. Leads in that case had been exhausted when investigators received information from federal Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers about vehicles being stolen using a laptop. Arce and Zelaya then were identified as suspects.

The two men, who each have criminal records, were arrested last weekend driving a stolen Jeep Grand Cherokee after police had been concentrating on an area of Houston that had been hit previously by auto thieves. They also recovered electronic devices, keys and other tools believed used in the thefts, along with drugs, firearms and body armor.

In the Jeep Wrangler case caught on a surveillance video, the suspect got under the hood, cut wires to the horn to disable an alarm and then got inside the SUV. Once inside, he used the database and the vehicle identification number to program a new key fob for the Jeep.

Arce remained in jail without bond on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, felony possession of a weapon, and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He was set for a court appearance Aug. 26.

Zelaya is being held on $500,000 bond on a charge of unauthorized use of a vehicle and was due in court Wednesday.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

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