HORRY COUNTY,SC (WMBF) - A Murrells Inlet restaurant is celebrating the 21st birthday of Brittanee Drexel, who disappeared from Myrtle Beach in 2009.
Chelsea Jo's Restaurant is celebrating Brittanee's birthday, and holding a fundraiser to aid in the search for Drexel. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the event will go toward the CUE Center for Missing persons in Wilmington.
"We've had a collection jar over there for a couple weeks," said restaurant owner Lester Leonard. "We're trying to raise money to help start searching for her again."
Amid the celebration of Brittanee's birthday, strong accusations are arising, aimed at Drexel's friends.
Last week Dawn Drexel, Britanee's mother, issued a letter to WMBF News questioning whether the people who saw her last told police everything they know.
In the letter, Drexel said she has serious questions about the timeline of her daughter's disappearance, as told by the group of friends she traveled to Myrtle Beach with three years ago.
"I think they may know what happened, or what car she got into," Drexel said during a phone interview Thursday night. "They're not giving all the information they know, and I think they're scared."
Drexel said she hopes the letter will lead to new information about her daughter's whereabouts.
"I hope [the letter] accomplishes that someone will come forward and [give] police the information they need to find my daughter," Drexel said. "Someone needs to start talking; it's been three years, and if it was a member of their...family, I think they would want the same."
Myrtle Beach Police Captain David Knipes says it's entirely possible that people could have kept information from, or even lied to, authorities during initial interrogations. But, he also states Myrtle Beach Police currently have no evidence that that's the case.
The Drexel family will also hold a candle light vigil on October 7 near Market Common in Myrtle Beach near the site of a tree the family planted in Brittanee Drexel's honor earlier this year.
Drexel was last seen on April 25, 2009, leaving the Blue Water Hotel on Ocean Boulevard. Since then, multiple searches of Myrtle Beach, Georgetown County, and Charleston County have turned up fruitless.
Dawn Drexel's letter can be read in its entirety below:
Please share my announcement in honor of my daughter on what should have been her 21st Birthday….
This letter is being written concerning information that I am aware of that surrounds the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel, whom went missing in Myrtle Beach, SC. The past three years have been a heart wrenching experience, and I know someone has knowledge of what happened to my daughter.
On April 25, 2009 I received a call that no mother would ever want to receive, saying that my daughter was in Myrtle Beach and the caller could not find her; this is where my nightmare began. My frantic calls to her cell phone the days that followed went unanswered trailing straight to her voicemail.
Once learning the identity of the people she went to South Carolina with on spring break, I began to make calls to them beginning first with Peter. I desperately sought any information from him concerning my daughter's whereabouts, and his reply was, and I quote, "I don't know and I am not her babysitter." I then requested if he could go out and search for her, again his response was negative. He refused to participate in anything concerning my daughter. I called Peter at least six or seven times that night, three different stories were told to me and never did I obtain any truth; I gave up.
As I found out more additional phone numbers of the people from New York Brittanee traveled with I called to no avail, those people would not answer my calls. In my frustration to get someone who could help, I contacted a friend of our family who was in the military hours away and requested of him to go there look for my daughter and to file a missing child report, and he did, immediately; I was already in route from my home with family and friends.
Arriving in Myrtle Beach I learned Peter, a club promoter and his friends had left at 1:00 am to head back to Rochester, New York and that they had been asked to leave the hotel for remarks that were made to one of the hotel employees at the Blue Water Resort. He left his belongings and $100 deposit. Peter arrived in Rochester placing pictures on the Internet of him at barbeque and other fun activities, then he hired attorney, John Parinello. Brittanee had known him for five years and he displayed no empathy or concern of my missing daughter.
The others who Brittanee rode with were still there, leaving two days later upon my arrival, but they only stayed that long due to the police questioning them. Not one person that was with my daughter helped me in any way, not one of them ever contacted me with concern or offered to any help, and not any of the parents of these people to this day have reached out to help or console me in my grief. It was and still remains a hard thing for me to understand, most human beings have compassion for a total stranger, but not this group!
I began to receive calls from my family and friends back in New York that these same people who were the last ones to see my daughter were posting nasty remarks about my daughter and mad because she ruined their vacation. Their slanderous lies and horrible actions only aided the pain I was suffering along with all who love Brittanee Drexel. But that is all they did, they have never told what happened or offered any additional help to my daughter's investigation, in my opinion. My daughter made mistakes and one of the largest ones she ever made was when she trusted this group of people with her life.
I later found out that the girls in this group of people treated my daughter poorly and by Brittanee's text messages to her then boyfriend revealed how miserable she really was, Brittanee was also packed that day to leave. My daughter in well lit streets packed with beach vacationers from all over walked from the Bar Harbor to the Blue Water to get a pair of shoes she had left in a vehicle earlier that day. While walking, text messages rung in from Jenn wanting her shorts returned for the outing planned that night. Then there is the infamous camera shot of my daughter entering the Blue Water and exiting, never to be seen or heard from again. My question is when she entered she went to the right, but the elevators were on the left? That has always bothered me because the only thing to the right is the hotel pool area.
Another item that has me concerned is supposedly my daughter went to the sixth floor to retrieve her shoes and that witnesses advised early in the investigation that they were watching the Red Sox Game and eating, but later I found out the game began at 4:10 pm that day ending at 7:45 pm this was way before my daughter went there. They claimed that was factual because Brittanee grabbed some food off a plate of an individual there. Brittanee was seen on the street camera in route to the Blue Water and the times just do not match up, period.
While my daughter was at the beach, her and this group visited a place called Club Kryptonite (now closed down). I fear only what may have gone on and many rumors over time have sent my imagination to some dark corners throughout my daughter's disappearance. Rumors alone have almost destroyed me at times. The fact that a body has not been found provides me a reasonable strength to press forward.
Did someone pick out my child that night? Did the wrong person notice my beautiful daughter that night? Did a plan devise that night to take my daughter or a plan prior in place? You see, this group of people had visited North and South Carolina before, Brittanee, although she wanted to think she was old enough, she was still just a child, not seeing the danger ahead.
How can my daughter arrive to a place and within sixty hours vanish? There were thousands of witnesses, yet not one person saw if she got into a vehicle, was forced against her will or even noticed her for the most part walking down the main road.
So many questions three years later that remain unanswered, leaving me and my family clinging to the hope that maybe after all the searches, all the media pleas and all the awareness campaigns, just maybe she could be alive? I am told to expect the worst, but how does a mother give up and not look for her child or ask the world to help her look.
Could my daughter be the next miracle story rescued from a human trafficking ring, or found by accident while being held captive by some freak or being used in some sort of sex slavery? Could someone with resources have taken my child on a plane or boat far away from the initial area and that is why no one to date knows anything of her whereabouts? These questions and a hundred more flood my late night thought and dreams.
Over the years I have had to deal with new announcements of what could have happened to my daughter; one year some local persons of interest possibly did something, to a registered sex offender possibility facing a clouded reality that my child may have been murdered. No one can provide me facts, only possibilities. In any story the fact my daughter is missing is horrifying enough; the unthinkable projections eat at me daily. Some days I feel the need to be rescued!
In closing, I have to acknowledge through this horrible nightmare the one good thing is I have met so many wonderful southern community people, those who endlessly search for my child at the CUE Center for Missing Persons, all law enforcement agencies always giving countless hours in Brittanee's investigations, others that where total strangers, now almost like family (to all I am grateful for). My family and I could have never stayed the coarse with out each little and big act of kindness shown. I have been made aware that "good'' still does exist in the world.
But I want and need my child back, I am broken, my family and friends are broken, we linger in a constant trauma of the ugly "unknown" fate of a missing child, my daughter, Brittanee Marie Drexel.
Mother of Missing, Brittanee Drexel