Spring Break Trip Turns Into Mom's Nightmare

Brittanee Drexel went missing in Myrtle Beach after taking a trip with friends.

BySarah Netter
May 01, 2009, 12:11 PM

May 1, 2009— -- A New York mom is desperately searching the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area for her teenage daughter who snuck away with friends for spring break, but has since disappeared.

Brittanee Drexel, 17, was last seen leaving a Myrtle Beach hotel April 25 after visiting with a group of young men from her hometown of Rochester. There has been no activity on her cell phone or her ATM account since. Her friends, all interviewed by police, have since returned home.

Her mother, Dawn Drexel, is now in Myrtle Beach along with Brittanee's father, stepmother and boyfriend handing out fliers bearing her daughter's pictures. Her mother fears the worst.

"I think something has happened to her," Dawn Drexel told ABCNews.com. "I just have a funny feeling. It's not like her to not call her family."

Brittanee Drexel was last seen leaving her hotel about 8:45 p.m. last Saturday. But in the six days since, there has been no activity on her credit cards or her cell phone, save for a signal that was traced to a nearby town around midnight Saturday.

Police say there's no clear answer on whether she's run away and doesn't want to be found or been abducted.

"We can't really get a handle on it," Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes told ABCNews.com. "It could go either way."

"We have no evidence of foul play," Knipes said. "Could there be? Sure."

Brittanee had asked to go on the trip during her spring break from school with a group of older teens and young adults, but Dawn Drexel said no, sparking a fight between the mother and daughter.

"I just told her 'No, I don't like the idea,'" Drexel said. "I didn't know the people she was going with."

And, Drexel said, she didn't like the idea of her teenage daughter driving down to Myrtle Beach without a parent in tow.

Brittanee, she said, stormed off to a friend's house, saying she needed to cool down. She apparently defied her mother and went with her friends anyway.

Drexel said she heard from her daughter Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Brittanee never told her she was in South Carolina. On Saturday, Drexel said, Brittanee told her she was at the beach, but since it was 80 degrees that day in Rochester, Drexel figured Brittanee was referring to an area lake.

Missing Teen Diagnosed With Depression

"I told her I loved her and she said, 'I love you, too, mom. I'll see you tomorrow,'" she said.

Dawn Drexel said she didn't even know her daughter was in Myrtle Beach until Brittanee's boyfriend called late Saturday night and said her friends couldn't find her.

"I said, 'What do you mean they can't find her?'" Drexel said.

Drexel said a family friend in North Carolina immediately drove down to Myrtle Beach and called police just before 5 a.m. Sunday when Brittanee didn't return to her hotel room at the Bluewater Resort.

Diagnosed with depression, Brittanee had recently been put on anti-depressant medication after the stress of family problems, including the divorce of her mother and stepfather, became too much for her to deal with on her own.

The house, Drexel said, was in foreclosure and Brittanee was protective of her younger brother and sister, wanting to make sure they were all right.

Though the anti-depressents were prescribed only recently, Drexel said they were told they could take about a month to build up in her system.

"I really don't know what state of mind she's in right now," she said.

One of the last people to see Brittanee was her friend Peter Broswick, one of the Rochester men who Brittanee visited at the Bluewater Resort Saturday night. According to the police report, two of the men told police she stayed only for about 10 minutes and left to return some clothing to another friend.

Knipes told ABCNews.com that the men, including Broswick, checked out of their hotel between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. that night and drove back to Rochester.

"Sinister? I don't know," he said, pointing out that Rochester is a 16-hour drive from Myrtle Beach and the men may have had school or jobs they needed to get back to.

The others, according to a police report, told detectives that they had only met Brittanee, through Broswick, the night before at a night club. None of them, he said, are considered persons of interest at this time.

Missing Teen's Mom Just Wants Her to Come Home

Broswick told ABCNews.com that he didn't have anything to do with Brittanee's disappearance and that they'd been friends for about two years.

Broswick's lawyer, John Parrinello, told ABCNews.com that Brittanee began hanging out with the men after several disagreements with the friends she was traveling with.

After Brittanee left the hotel, Parrinello said, the men went to a nearby college party, but left shortly after. Since they had to check out of the hotel the next morning anyway, they decided to just leave then and get a head start on their trip.

"All of these innuendos and inferences are to no avail," Parrinello said, adding that he was hired to be a go-between with Broswick, the media and the police.

Parrinello said the car the men had been travelling in has been searched and Broswick is scheduled to give a DNA sample at the request of the Myrtle Beach police.

ABC News attempted to reach the rest of the men Brittanee was with that day. Two did not immediately return messages and two others declined to comment.

"We already gave our statement to police," Anthony Schimizzi said. "We're not talking to anyone else."

Brittanee is believed to have her cell phone and her purse with her, Drexel said, but left her luggage behind in the hotel room.

"It's not like my daughter ... to leave her stuff," she said, describing Brittanee as a typical teenager who pays close attention to her clothes, hair and makeup.

Drexel said she does not believe her daughter has run away, but is pleading with her to call if she can.

"I want her to know she's not in any kind of trouble," Drexel said. "We just want her to come home."

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