MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Nearly a week has passed since 16-year-old Marley McKenna Spindler went missing after meeting her friends for breakfast in Surfside Beach, and now national news outlets are beginning to take notice.
On August 20, Spindler met her friends at the Chick-Fil-A in Surfside Beach, and instead of heading to her first day of school at Socastee High School, she reportedly went to pick up a friend who was drunk on Ocean Boulevard named Jeremy. He has since been cleared as a person of interest in the case, and police believe she left alone, and not under "duress or coercion."
On Wednesday, police released surveillance photos, apparently of the last time Spindler was seen: at a bank, withdrawing less than $100 from her account.
Not much else is known at this time, but already her story has captured the attention of national news outlets like Dateline NBC and Nancy Grace.
Dateline NBC spoke to Shelley Long, Spindler's aunt, who revealed a startling detail that may shed new light on the case:
Her aunt says the teen sent the group a cryptic text saying someone was following her. "They all thought she was joking, and didn't think that much of it," said Long. "They are also teenagers and didn't want to tattle on their friend if she was cutting school. They didn't think anything bad had happened. But now we're all scared."
By Thursday afternoon, when Spindler missed her routine check-in call, Marley's father Jay Spindler called her cell phone, which was answered by the Ocean Reef Resort, saying the phone had been found earlier in the day in their parking lot, NBC News reports.
Nancy Grace, who hosts a show on the HLN Network, has reported on Spindler's case, and used her social media presence to raise awareness of the missing girl. Grace's Twitter account posted the following: PLEASE SHARE: Have you seen 16-year-old Marley McKenna Spindler? Help us spread the word!
Spindler's story is also currently the top story on the website for Crime Watch Daily, a syndicated news program which is set to premiere on WMBF News on September 14.
Spindler's parents continue to ask the community for their help in bringing her home. Jay Spindler is a general manager at the Sam's Club in Myrtle Beach; employees have placed signs and posters around the store, they're passing out flyers to customers, and truck drivers are on the lookout for Spindler's 2002 silver Ford Escape.
Concerned community members have also started a campaign on social media, including the Facebook page: Held find Marley Mckenna Spindler, which has over 17,000 likes, has been posting information, images and updates on the case.
Meanwhile, the Horry County Police's Criminal Investigations Division has mobilized several detectives to work this case. Anyone with information is asked to contact Horry County Police on their Tip Line at 843-915-8477 (843-915-TIPS).