Despite a cold case, Drexel searchers driven to help

Brittanee Drexel, then 17, vanished April 25, 2009, from Ocean Boulevard.

The latest search for missing spring breaker Brittanee Drexel yielded no new clues Saturday, though the teen TMs family and scores of volunteer searchers won TMt give up hope.

It TMs just something in us that gives us that drive to try to help. We want to bring this girl home, said Kelly Walker, a Florida law enforcement official, who moonlights as a volunteer on search and rescue missions.

Close to 60 searchers like Walker spent all day Saturday scouring parts of the North Santee Community in Georgetown County looking for clues into Drexel TMs disappearance. They will return to areas in the same vicinity on Sunday.

The temperatures were well below freezing for much of the morning and afternoon, but that didn TMt slow efforts.

You kind of go over that. You don TMt think about that because you have a job to do, said golf instructor Cyndi Graham who became interested in search and rescue only a couple of years ago.

Seeing the family, is what inspires Graham to volunteer, and seeing the distress that they TMre having to deal with right now. You just pray to God you TMre never in that situation.

Dawn Drexel, mother of Brittanee, is living the situation that only few can understand.

It TMs horrible, she said. It TMs the most horrible thing anyone can ever imagine going through.

Brittanee vanished April 25, 2009, from Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach after leaving the Blue Water Resort around 9:15 p.m.

From the beginning, law enforcement agencies and the CUE Center for Missing Persons -- which organizes the large-scale searches -- have dedicated thousands of hours on the search for Drexel.

Their efforts have concentrated largely within a five-mile radius in the North Santee Community where detectives tracked Drexel TMs cell phone signals from the night she disappeared.

Aside from the cell phone clue, detectives and searchers haven TMt found much else. The discovery of a pair of sunglasses resembling a pair worn by Brittanee sparked hope in December, but there has been no confirmation on whether they belong to her.

It TMs the kind of clue that gives hope to an otherwise cold case, and it TMs the kind of case that draws strangers to help.

I just felt like this is just something that I had to get involved in, said Rory Ellinsky who owns a taxicab company in Myrtle Beach and who has followed Drexel TMs case in the news for months.

If something [were] to happen to you or your family, you would want as many people to get involved as possible to try to bring an end to the situation, said Ellinsky who encouraged others with a search and rescue background to get involved.

For Dawn, who prays everyday for closure, the help she receives from strangers is uplifting.

They TMve just been wonderful. I mean for them to volunteer their time to come out and search for my daughter means the world to me, to my family, Dawn said, paused, and then added, you know, they don TMt even know Brittanee.

And while they may not find Brittanee this weekend, hope and determination burns inside of these folks who give 110% on every search.

It TMs important to the families, and it TMs the victims that we TMre working for, said the law enforcement official from Tallahassee who drove eight hours just for the search.

The best thing we can walk away with here is knowing that we tried.

How to Help

Anonymous tips can be called into the Myrtle Beach Police Department by calling 843-918-1382. A substantial reward is being offered.

For more information on the CUE Center for Missing Persons, visit

An official Brittanee Drexel web site has been set up at