GPS tracking aids investigators in Drexel case

Georgetown County, SC - By Kyle Grainger - bio | email

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Investigators in Georgetown County say that for months, they've been interviewing persons of interest regarding the disappearance of a missing teen from New York.

Lt. Neil Johnson, spokesman for the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office, says a cell phone signal is what originally led the search for 18-year-old Brittanee Drexel out of Myrtle Beach and into the Santee area of Georgetown County.

Myrtle Beach Police say the Rochester, NY, teen disappeared after she was last seen in the area of 11th Avenue South and 20th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach. Drexel, who was 17 at the time of her disappearance, was in the area against the will of her mother.

Contact was lost between Drexel and her family in New York on April 25, 2009, the same night authorities say she disappeared. The last signal from her cell phone came the next night near the South Santee River.

Johnson says because Drexel was a heavy user of her cell phone, and in the hours after her disappearance, her cell phone signal stopped in Georgetown County. That's the exact reason why investigators believe whatever happened to Drexel occurred within Georgetown County.

Ryan Graham with HTC says GPS tracking technology has evolved over the last 10 years and continues to get better.

"It's all becoming more compressed into one device. Obviously with technology, making things smaller and more robust, cell phone technology has grown by leaps and bounds," said Graham. "It makes it much harder in areas like that where you've only got a few cell towers along a particular route and you don't have them geographically scattered in certain areas."

He says that certain areas don't have a good of cell phone coverage as others do but most technology can lead to as close as meters away from where someone is.

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