I remember when the story came into our newsroom. A local girl had supposedly gone missing while on spring break in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I say supposedly because in the news industry a person isn’t missing until police say so. Over the years we have received countless phone calls from frantic loved ones pleading with us to run a photo on the evening news. They begged for help, but our hands were tied until it authorities confirmed it to be suspicious. More often than not the missing person turned out to be a runaway. Initially, many people in our newsroom were skeptical about Brittanee Drexel’s supposed disappearance. A troubled 17-year-old goes on vacation without telling her mother and goes missing. Just about everyone was thinking it: That girl got busted and ran away. Then, days passed. Something wasn’t right. Security video surfaced showing her leaving a hotel in Myrtle Beach, where she visited a few friends.
Somewhere during the 1.4 mile walk to her own hotel, this young girl vanished. A week later I interviewed her mother, Dawn Drexel. “I seriously think someone took my daughter or she may not be alive,” said Dawn. “Brittanee would have come home by now.” She was calm, but her eyes told another story. My heart raced trying to even imagine myself in her shoes. Brittanee was not a runaway. Someone took her baby. In the four years that followed there have been exhaustive searches, her parents made countless appearances on national television shows, but every lead came up empty.
Then, came a new development in the case. Recently, another young woman disappeared in the same county in South Carolina. Police, while searching for 20-year-old Heather Elvis, came across human skeletal remains. According to Lt. Peter Cestare of the Horry County Police Department the bones have been there for more than three years. The remains are less than a mile from where Heather Elvis lived and less than 10 miles from where Brittanee Drexel was last seen. The bones are being sent to a lab in Texas for DNA testing. Police have long told Brittanee’s family they need to come to terms with the fact that their daughter may be dead. There is a part of me that hopes her family and friends finally get some answers, but that would mean Brittanee is gone and the monster who killed her managed to run away.