On 25 April 2009, 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel of Chili, New York went missing while on holiday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The investigation of the case dragged on for years and garnered nationwide attention.
In 2016, Tequan L. Brown, a jailhouse informant, implicated Timothy Da’Shaun Taylor in Brittanee Drexel’s disappearance, claiming that Drexel “was gang raped, shot in the head and her body dumped in an alligator pit.”
On 14 June 2017, FBI supervisory special agent Robert “Rob” Waizenhofer (since retired) administered a polygraph examination to Taylor regarding Brown’s allegations. Waizenhofer asked the following two relevant questions:
- “Do you know for sure who was involved in the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel?”
- “Did you ever see Brittanee Drexel in person?”
Taylor answered “no” to both questions. Waizenhofer concluded that Taylor was lying, writing in his report:
Taylor was told that he was strongly reacting to several of the questions. Taylor responded by invoking his right to speak with his attorney, who was outside the lobby. After extensive discussions with his attorney, Taylor agreed to continue the interview with the examiner. During this portion of the interview, Taylor went back to the story he had previously told about the argument he overheard concerning when [redacted] was accused of having Drexel’s cell phone. Within minutes of renewing the interview, Taylor denied that he was withholding any information in the missing-persons case, began shouting angrily at the examiner, and asked to speak to his attorney again. The interview was terminated at that point.
Five days later, FBI special agent and polygraph operator Thomas J. “TJ” Sypniewski (also since retired) reviewed Waizenhofer’s polygraph results, noting no deficiencies.
As a consequence of Brown’s accusation and Taylor’s failed polygraph, the FBI came to believe that “Taylor had direct involvement in Drexel’s kidnapping.” Drexel’s father also became persuaded that Taylor was involved in his daughter’s disappearance.
However, Timothy Taylor had nothing to do with Brittanee Drexel’s disappearance. He didn’t abduct her. He didn’t rape her. He didn’t kill her. He didn’t feed her to alligators. Tequan Brown’s accusations against him were a pure fabrication that—thanks in part to the polygraph—the FBI wrongly credited.
On Monday, 16 May 2022, the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office revealed that “Raymond Moody, a convicted sex offender, was charged with kidnapping, raping and killing Brittanee Drexel.” Moody has reportedly confessed to these crimes, and Drexel’s body has been recovered.
The investigatorial misdirection and injustice to Timothy Taylor that resulted from the FBI’s reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy in the Brittanee Drexel investigation serves only to strengthen the argument that polygraph “testing” should be scrapped for all purposes.
At the time of writing, it appears that Tequan Brown has not been criminally charged for falsely accusing Timothy Taylor. (He should be.)
Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated “Waizenhofer concluded that Brown was lying.” It should have stated “Waizenhofer concluded that Taylor was lying.”