ROCHESTER, NY (WMBF) – Like many teens, Brittanee Drexel wanted to experience a fun, sun-filled spring break in April 2009, but when her family discovered she was 800 miles away with no recent contact with friends, panic set in.
Brittanee Drexel told her mom she was headed no more than 20 miles away from her New York home to Charlotte Beach in Rochester, but actually traveled over 800 miles to the sands of South Carolina.
"We thought she was just down there [Charlotte Beach] and she was going to be hanging out with friends. I never had a reason not to trust Brittanee," says Dawn Drexel, Brittanee's mom.
It wasn't until Brittanee's boyfriend at the time alerted Dawn that Brittanee had traveled to Myrtle Beach and friends on the trip could not find the 17-year-old that Dawn knew something was terribly wrong.
"Her boyfriend at the time, John Grieco, had called me and told me that she was down in Myrtle Beach and that they couldn't find her," says Drexel, "and come to find out, he had lost contact with her probably about a half hour to about an hour, when the texts just completely stopped from [Brittanee]."
A little over an hour after Brittanee's last text message, investigators say her cell phone was pinging from a tower along the border of Georgetown and Charleston County.
"I mean, [Brittanee] was on her phone 24/7. I mean you could not take that phone out of her hand. So, to me, yeah, somebody abducted her, somebody grabbed her and took her," suggests Drexel.
In the days after Brittanee's disappearance, searchers scoured the area near the North and South Santee Rivers. Volunteers and law enforcement used boats, dogs, horses, and any other available resource to search for the missing teen. In the days and weeks ahead, no clues led police to Brittanee's discovery. In fact, it would not be for another 19 months that investigators would identify several persons of interest in the case.
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