Private detectives join search for teen

MYRTLE BEACH - An organization that helps parents and law enforcement search for missing children has hired a private detective agency to aid in the search for Brittanee Drexel, a New York teen who disappeared while vacationing in Myrtle Beach last April.

Frank Del Vecchio, chief executive of AMBER Ready in Rockaway, N.J., said Monday that Benson Agency Investigations can bring a "fresh set of eyes" to the case. He said it is the first case the organization has hired a detective to assist with.

"Our hope is for additional leads and for them to assist law enforcement and the Drexel family," Del Vecchio said. "They can provide additional resources to follow up leads that may be outside of South Carolina."

Family members of Brittanee Drexel, as well as law enforcement and search groups from North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Maine, searched as recently as January through the wooded areas near Powell Road in Georgetown County and Seven Mile Road in Charleston County.

It wasn't the first time volunteers had searched those particular areas in Georgetown, said Monica Caison, director of the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons in Wilmington, N.C., which conducts nationwide searches for missing people.

Volunteers and law enforcement authorities have focused their searches in the Georgetown County area after Drexel's cell phone gave off its last known signal April 26 around U.S. 17 near the South Santee River, police said.

Drexel, then 17, of Rochester, N.Y., was last seen that night leaving the Blue Water Hotel on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.

Del Vecchio, who has participated in the search in South Carolina for Drexel, said they are working closely with the CUE Center for Missing Persons in finding Drexel.

"It has to be a team effort," Del Vecchio said. "In order to bring this case to a close, it requires us to work together, including law enforcement and other agencies."

Caison said Monday that they are going to keep searching, continue to focus on the same places, and try to identify some areas.

"We want to take all the action we can to help locate and find her," said Drexel's mother, Dawn Drexel, who said she was happy that AMBER Ready has hired a detective.

"We appreciate all the hard work the law enforcement has done there. We can use an extra set of eyes and an extra set of thoughts in the search for Brittanee. It means the world to me."