Brittanee Drexel's Boyfriend Refuses to Give Up Hope or Stop Searching

Family, friends in week two of search for N.Y. teen missing in Myrtle Beach.

ByABC News
May 1, 2009, 12:11 PM

May 7, 2009— -- The boyfriend of a New York teenager who disappeared during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., said his belief that she's still alive keeps him motivated to keep searching "until we find her."

John Grieco, 19, said he's taken a hiatus from school and work to help Brittanee Drexel's family search for the Rochester, N.Y., teenager who vanished in the popular South Carolina beach town April 25 while on a spring break trip her mother had forbidden.

"My whole life in Rochester had Brittanee involved with it," Grieco said. "It's kind of hard to be in Rochester without Brittanee."

Brittanee Drexel, 17, was last seen leaving the Bluewater Resort, captured on surveillance video, where she had been visiting a group of Rochester-area men after having a falling out with the friends she'd drove down with.

Her family has expressed suspicion about the five young men, including one man who was friends with Drexel before the trip, but police said none of them are suspects at this time.

"Nobody's been cleared," Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes told "You don't clear anybody until the case is closed."

The five men have all since returned home to Rochester, but Grieco said he believes Drexel is still in the Myrtle Beach area, being held against her will.

"I think there was foul play," he said. I do not believe at all that she is a runaway ... or that she committed suicide."

Grieco described Drexel, whom he's dated on an off for the past 2½ years, as a "really strong-headed person" who would do what she could to escape if she were held captive.

It's that hope, he said, that keeps him motivated.

Brittanee Drexel's mother, Dawn Drexel, also in Myrtle Beach, told a Rochester-area news station that her daughter "may not be alive."

While the first week was spent handing out fliers and going door-to-door, Grieco said the team would likely be more organized this week, getting help from trained searchers who have joined the family, including Team Adam from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Texas-based Laura Recovery Center.

As attention on Drexel's disappearance intensified, some have been trying to take advantage of the public's concern. Grieco said people on more than one occasion had been going door-to-door asking for donations for the search and then pocketing the cash.

Police, he said, have been made of aware of the scammers.

The family is trying to raise money for search costs through its new Web site dedicated to finding Drexel.

Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry, based in South Carolina, has offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information about Drexel's disapperance.