Dawn Drexel on Today Show talking of missing teen

New York - NEW YORK, NY (WMBF) - The mother of a missing New York teen made an appearance on NBC's The Today Show on Friday in an attempt to raise awareness on the case.

New video of Brittanee Drexel, who was 17 when she was last seen in Myrtle Beach on April 25, 2009, preceded Today Show host Matt Lauer's interview with Dawn Drexel, the teen's mother. The video from "Investigation Discovery" shows Brittanee the day before her disappearance in a hotel room and texting on her phone.

Investigators say the video was shot by someone the girl met while on vacation, but they have spoken to that person and he is not a suspect.

Drexel told Lauer that investigators have not shared any information on the persons of interest in the case, nor have they told her there is a location of interest.

Drexel said she thinks one of three things happened to her daughter: "She's either being held against her will, she's been trafficked or she's not alive," she said.

Drexel, who has been making her rounds on the national media circuit to bring awareness to her daughter's case, will also appear on CNN Headline News at 7 p.m. Friday.

Brittanee Drexel disappeared after she was last seen in the area of 11th Avenue South and 20th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach. The teen was in the area against the will of her mother.

Contact was lost between the girl 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.

Since she went missing, multiple search efforts for the teen have been executed from Horry County to Charleston County. While investigators have searched throughout three counties, each search effort has left police empty handed.

Last week, investigators confirmed they had pinpointed three or four people of interest in the case. Lt. Neil Johnson of the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office said all persons of interest have been previously questioned by authorities, but could not confirm an exact time frame in which they were questioned.

Two of the suspects, according to Johnson, have been subjected to lie detector tests. Johnson, however, has refrained from commenting on the results of those tests.

Myrtle Beach Police Det. Vincent Dorio said the recent advancements in the case developed from a tip, and detectives are confident the information is leading them in the right direction to finding who might be responsible for her disappearance.

Drexel made an appearance on CNN earlier this week saying investigators are not giving her enough information about the case.

Capt. David Knipes, spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department, says he feels area investigators have given the Drexel family as much pertinent information as possible without jeopardizing the case.

Drexel also said she is upset investigators said her daughter may not be alive. Johnson said Thursday he understands that she's a mother in distress about her daughter's year-long disappearance, but based on information gathered throughout the lengthy investigation, he said investigators are treating the missing teen's case as a homicide case.

"Based off of what we have right now, we have no other information that's leading us any other direction," Johnson explained. "She's right, we have not found Brittanee Drexel. We have not made an arrest. We are making that statement based off the information that we have."

Drexel appeared with Monica Caison, director of the CUE Center for Missing Persons, on the show Friday. Caison said searchers are continuing to look for Brittanee.

"You can't take hope from families of the missing, that's all they have," she said. "You just can't rip that away from them. Every day is hope, that's what gets them up, that's what keeps them moving. And it's not a false hope, it's truly a hope that they'll be found or the answer will be that day or more information will come to lead investigators one way."

Both the Myrtle Beach Police and the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office have full-time investigators working only on the case, according to authorities, and Johnson said that law enforcement officials are hoping the details they have released will lead to a break in the case.

"If that one person that associates theirself, whether it be a family member, it be a friend," said Johnson, "they need to stop and put themselves in Brittanee Drexel's family's shoes, and kind of turn the scenario around on themselves and think about if this was them, and come forward."

On Friday, April 23, Myrtle Beach Police are releasing a new deck of cards featuring Brittanee Drexel as the 2 of diamonds. Keri Drexel, a relative of Brittanee Drexel, will also attend a conference at 10 a.m. in collaboration with Brittanee Drexel's awareness campaign in Florida to reveal a new deck of playing cards featuring her niece. Drexel was chosen as the 2 of clubs to honor her lengthy love for the sport of soccer and her last known jersey number.

Family and friends will gather at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 24, for a candlelight vigil and walk from the Bar Harbor Hotel to the Bluewater Hotel.

CrimeStoppers of the Lowcountry continues to offer a reward for any information on Drexel's whereabouts. Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Drexel is urged to contact the agency at 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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