Published December 05, 2012
Three years after a New York teenager disappeared while on spring break in Myrtle Beach, the girl's family has released an age-progressed sketch in hopes their daughter is still alive and someone might recognize her.
Brittanee Drexel, a 17-year-old high school junior from the Rochester, N.Y., area, was last seen on surveillance video leaving a popular Myrtle Beach hotel along Ocean Boulevard in April 2009. The girl had traveled to South Carolina with a group of friends and without her mother's permission. A video camera at the Blue Water Resort captured her leaving the hotel on April 25 close to 9 p.m., police said. The footage is the last known sighting of her.
On Wednesday, the CUE Center of Missing Persons, with the help of the family, produced a sketch by forensic artist Diana Trepkov of what Drexel might look like at age 21.
“I was so overwhelmed by what she gave us just before the holidays, the beauty of what I know my daughter would really look like today, a little older, a new hair style, but still the beautiful little girl that peeks through those eyes of hers; it is a bittersweet gift,” Drexel's mother, Dawn Drexel, said.
The distraught mom told FoxNews.com that she hopes the image might generate leads in the case. She noted an unusual detail that her daughter's right eye is smaller than her left.
Police said Drexel, a petite blonde and avid soccer player, had left a group of male friends from Rochester at the Blue Water Resort to walk back to the Bar Harbor Hotel, where she was staying with other girls.
After leaving the Blue Water hotel, Drexel texted her boyfriend back home to say she was headed for her hotel, but security video confirmed she never made it, police said.
Myrtle Beach detectives said they believe Drexel was abducted as she walked the one-mile stretch of Ocean Boulevard between the two hotels.
Dawn Drexel has claimed repeatedly that the teenagers who last saw her daughter have not been forthcoming in providing key information.
"I'm convinced they know more than they're saying," she said. "They will not speak with me to this day. Not one person that was with my daughter contacted me to help. They showed no empathy."
But in an interview last February, detectives revealed that a convicted child rapist is being eyed as a "person of interest" in Drexel's disappearance. Police said Raymond Moody, a registered Level 3 sex offender, was in the Myrtle Beach area the same weekend the teenager vanished.
Investigator Phillip Hanna of the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office said a signal from Drexel’s cellphone was detected about 50 miles south of Myrtle Beach later that night – in a remote boat landing area near the South Santee River and roughly 8 miles from the Sunset Lodge apartments in Georgetown County where Moody had been living at the time.
Moody served 21 years of a 40-year prison sentence after he abducted a girl from a California playground and sexually assaulted her in 1983. His convictions include three counts of rape with force and violence; two counts of lewd behavior on a child under the age of 14; and one count of assault with intent to commit mayhem, according to a state sex offender database on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division's website.
Anyone with information on Drexel's whereabouts is urged to call the Myrtle Beach Police Department at (843) 918-1963.