Brittanee Drexel told her parents she was staying with a friend for spring break before she went missing in 2009. Leading up to her disappearance, the 17-year-old high school senior from Rochester, NY, was under an immense amount of stress from her parents' separation. While her vanishing may at first sound like the case of a runaway teen, Brittanee Drexel's disappearance quickly turned ominous.
The Brittanee Drexel case remained unsolved since she was last seen on April 25, 2009, until her remains were found in May 2022.
Here are the facts of the case and a general timeline of events. We'll also explore plausible theories and suspects from the years-long investigation into Brittanee Drexel's confounding disappearance.
- Photo: Disappeared / Investigation Discovery
In April 2009, Brittanee Drexel Went To Myrtle Beach For Spring Break Without Her Parents’ Knowledge
Brittanee Drexel was coming out of a rough patch in her life when she was invited by three high school seniors to join them for a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, SC. Brittanee's parents were recently separated, and as a result, she had reportedly lost interest in schoolwork and playing soccer.
The trip to Myrtle Beach seemed like the perfect fresh start, but there was one problem: getting her parents' approval. Dawn and Chad Drexel were not keen on letting their 17-year-old daughter go on an unsupervised road trip six states away from their home in Rochester, NY, with three teenagers they didn't know. While her parents were adamant that she stay home, Brittanee was equally determined to make the trip.
The family reached a compromise when Brittanee's parents allowed her to stay at a friend's house in Rochester during the break. During the week, Brittanee regularly checked in with Dawn, and Dawn could tell her daughter's spirits were up. Unbeknownst to Dawn, however, Brittanee was actually nowhere near Rochester. Instead, she had gone with her friends to Myrtle Beach.
- Video: YouTube
Security Footage Showed Her Leaving A Friend's Hotel Where She Was Last Seen
The last known video footage of Brittanee Drexel shows her leaving the Blue Water Resort, where a friend from Rochester, Peter Brozowitz, was staying with three friends. According to Brozowitz, Brittanee had gone to a club with Peter and his friends the night before, and they had met up again during the day on April 25.
Brittanee reportedly went to the Blue Water Resort to retrieve a pair of flip-flops she left there earlier in the day and only stayed at the hotel for approximately 10 minutes. Brittanee's whereabouts are still unclear between 8:10 pm and 9:00-9:15 pm, when she stopped responding to text messages, but Brozowitz is thought to be the last person to see her before she went missing.
Brozowitz reportedly checked out of the Blue Water Resort around 1 am the morning of April 26, roughly five hours after seeing Brittanee. When questioned about why he never contacted police when he heard about Brittanee's disappearance, he replied that he "wasn't in Myrtle Beach to babysit."
- Photo: Disappeared / Investigation Discovery
From The Start, Her Boyfriend And Mother Believed She Met With Foul Play
Dawn Drexel received a phone call from Brittanee's boyfriend, John Grieco, who broke the news that Brittanee had indeed gone to Myrtle Beach for spring break. Dawn's initial anger over Brittanee's disobedience quickly gave way to fear when John said that Brittanee had abruptly stopped answering texts and phone calls from John and her friends.
Brittanee and John texted throughout the day, so when she quit responding to his messages around 9:15 pm, he became concerned. John even texted Brittanee stating he was going to call her mom if she didn't write back. When he received no response, he called Dawn, believing Brittanee was in danger.
Seemingly from the beginning, Dawn believed her daughter was a victim of human trafficking, possibly after being promised some sort of modeling opportunity that was merely a front. John later stated in an interview, "I think somebody saw her walking and offered her a ride and she got in the car with the wrong person."
Although She Was Supposed To Head North, Phone Tracking Showed She Headed South
The hotel Brittanee and her friends stayed at is approximately 1.4 miles north of the Blue Water Resort, where she was last seen when she reportedly picked up her flip-flops and briefly spoke to Peter Brozowitz.
However, Brittanee's cell phone records show her traveling south after that. In fact, Brittanee's phone pinged off of a cell tower seven miles south of the Blue Water Resort about a half-hour after she sent her last text message. Not long after that, her phone pinged a final time in Georgetown County, just over five miles south of Myrtle Beach.
Authorities followed up on reports that Brittanee was seen boarding a bus, as well as walking into a convenience store, but these leads hit dead ends, and the search went cold.
Some authorities believe she was taken to the town of McClellanville, SC, based on the cell phone pings and witness testimony.