The FBI has confirmed that a teen who went missing in 2009 was likely kidnapped and killed, but her parents are begging the public for any clues.
Brittanee Drexel, who was 17 at the time, vanished while on vacation to South Carolina without her parents’ permission in April of 2009, and she was last spotted leaving a beachfront hotel in Myrtle Beach, officials said on Wednesday.
“Brittanee Drexel did leave the Myrtle Beach area,” South Carolina FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas told reporters. “We believe she traveled to this area, around McClellanville and the North Charleston, South Georgetown area, and we believe she was killed after that.”
Drexel likely left Myrtle Beach and spent several days in McClellanville, located about 60 miles away. They said Drexel was held against her will there at least part of the time, and investigators believe she was killed there, WYFF-4 TV reported.
Thomas said agents had believed for sometime that Drexel was dead, but officials didn’t say anything earlier “in the interest of trying to protect the parents … and maintain hope that we could bring her back alive,” People magazine reported.
Thomas said he feels certain someone saw her during the days leading up to her death, and he said the FBI is offering a reward of $25,000 for information that could lead to an arrest or conviction.
Her mother, Dawn Drexel, pleaded for the public to help “bring her killers to justice.”
“We know she isn’t coming home alive,” she said. “We need your help to find Brittanee’s remains and bring her home to rest.”
It’s unclear if there are one or multiple suspects involved.
“The investigators are certain that’s what happened,” Thomas said. “Somebody does know information.”
Drexel’s father, Chad, also posted a family statement on Facebook.
“These developments have in a small way given us some horrible closure … This is ALL ABOUT JUSTICE FOR BRITTANEE,” he wrote.
When he was asked if anything changed in recent weeks that prompted the FBI news conference, Thomas responded, “We think we are at the point where one or two small pieces of information could put us over the edge. We’re reaching out to those people that may have information,” AP reported.
For years, the investigation has been considered a missing persons case.
Myrtle Beach police Lt. Joey Crosby told WYFF that investigators have carried out hundreds of interviews and have followed numerous leads across the U.S. He said law enforcement is trying to find out what happened to her to bring closure to her family. “We will not give up,” Crosby said. “We will not stop this investigation.
Anyone with information regarding her disappearance or murder is asked to call 1-800-CALLFBI.