Drexel search wraps up, no new leads

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Investigators, friends, family and volunteers gathered near the Georgetown County and Charleston County line to continue to search for any clues as to the whereabouts of a missing New York teen.

Her family and volunteers from the CUE center from Missing Persons are back in the Grand Strand searching for the teen. About 100 people showed up Saturday to help search the area near the North Santee River.

On Sunday there were about 70 searchers out scouring the woods for Brittanee Drexel, the girl who was last seen leaving a Myrtle Beach hotel in April 2009. The group lost about 30 volunteers from Saturday who drove in from out of state and had to travel back.

Though temperatures were just above freezing that didn't stop volunteers from spending the day searching for clues.The search party had ATV's, dogs, horses and of course, people. Everyone bundled up and covered about 100 acres of land before lunch.

Though the temperatures were low, moral was high.

"We got to do the best we can," searcher Phil Pestone said. "We can't wait for the weather."

Monica Caison from the CUE Center for Missing Persons says this time of year is a great time to search for clues, because trees are bare and there isn't as much animal activity.

Caison says even if they don't find clues, the search makes a difference.

"Every search is successful because you are eliminating space in which that person could be," she said. "We're eliminating one more spot and know the family can take comfort in knowing she's not in this piece of woods."

Searchers agree that every effort helps, and they says it's all about the attitude you have when you go into it.

"You've got to be serious about it," searcher Elizabeth Creech said. "You've got to search like if you wanted someone to do it for you."

Day No. 2 of searching covered multiple sites, all of which the group had not searched before.

Bernie Thornton of Kingstree brought his bloodhounds to help with the search. Thornton said he has been a part of many search and rescue missions over the years, but each one is very different.

"Every terrain is different," he explained. "Everywhere you go is different, every situation is different."

Caison says what investigators really need is a break.

"We've gone over a lot of areas five or six times," she said. "We need somebody in the community that knows something to come forward and give investigators a clue."

The family says either way, they will be back. Keri Drexel, Brittanee's aunt, is currently working on a scrapbook trying to piece together all of the pictures of her niece she has.

"We're going to keep moving forward and not give up no matter what it takes," she said.

Brittanee's mom, Dawn Drexel says these searches are very nerve-racking, and that's why she says she didn't get much sleep. She says the possibilities are endless and at this point, it's just a waiting game.

"The area that's out here is just all woods, and normally when they're looking in the woods they're looking for a body, it's just scary."

Even so, everyone is very hopeful including Brittanee's Grandma Carol Wagner: "I do [have hope] because they haven't found anything. I really think Brittanee's out there. She's just untouchable right now."

Dawn Drexel added, "It's my world now, it's my life. Unfortunately, it's not the type of club you want to be in."

Searchers did not find any clues that would be significant to Brittanee's case over the weekend. Brittanee's family and friends say they will be back to search again.

The family urges anyone with information to come forward.

"I don't know where we are going from here, but we are not going to stop looking," Wagner said. "We're going to continue to look for Brittanee, she's got to be out there somewhere."

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