New York teen who vanished in 2009 likely held captive, killed - FBI

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The Story of Brittanee Drexel's Disappearance


NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) - A 17-year-old New York girl who vanished in 2009 while on spring break in a South Carolina beach town was likely held captive for several days before being killed, federal agents investigating the girl's disappearance said for the first time on Wednesday.

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Rochester, New York resident Brittanee Drexel, who was last seen on surveillance camera leaving her waterside hotel in the tourist hotspot Myrtle Beach, had been treated as a missing person since she vanished seven years ago.

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Brittanee Drexel's 2009 Disappearance
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New York teen who vanished in 2009 likely held captive, killed - FBI
This undated photo provided by the Myrtle Beach, S.C., Police Department shows Brittanee Drexel. Authorities in South Carolina are holding a news conference Wednesday, June 8, 2016, to talk about the case of the New York teen who disappeared during a 2009 spring break trip to Myrtle Beach. (Myrtle Beach Police Department via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Dawn Drexel, mother of Britanee Drexel, speaks to reporters during a news conference in McClellanville, S.C., on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Authorities announced that the case of the disappearance of her daughter Brittanee Drexel of Rochester, N.Y., is now being investigated as a homicide and the FBI is offering a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Brittanee Drexel was 17 when she was last seen at a hotel in nearby Myrtle Beach, S.C., in April 2009. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas speaks to reporters during a news conference in McClellanville, S.C., on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. He said that the case of Brittanee Drexel of Rochester, N.Y., is now being investigated as a homicide and the agency is offering a reward of $25,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Drexel was 17 when she was last seen at a hotel in nearby Myrtle Beach, S.C., in April 2009. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)
Myrissa Drexel falls into the arms of her father Chad Drexel during a vigil to commemorate a year since Brittanee Drexel was last seen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. About 100 people gathered for a march and candle lighting ceremony off Ocean Boulevard on Saturday April 24, 2010. Myrissa Drexel's sister and Chad Drexel's daughter was last seen at nearby Blue Water Resort at 2001 South Ocean Boulevard. (AP Photo/Janet Blackmon Morgan - Sun News)
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Drexel's case, which was featured on the Discovery Channel's "Disappeared" television show, has some similarities with the highly publicized vanishing of Mississippi teenager Natalee Holloway, whose fate is still a mystery.

Drexel's remains have not been found, and no one has been arrested in connection with her disappearance. After hundreds of interview and leads, investigators said they believe Drexel died in McClellanville, South Carolina, the last place Drexel's cell phone signal was traced to. McClellanville is a fishing town about an hour's drive south down the coast from Myrtle Beach.

"It is very difficult but the public needs to know, the family needs to know," said U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent in charge David Thomas, who spoke at a news conference from the remote area, which was streamed live on the web.

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Thomas declined to say how the FBI knew Drexel was dead or had been held captive. It was not clear whether the girl had chosen to travel to McClellanville from Myrtle Beach or if she was taken to the town against her will, he said.

Mother Dawn Drexel appealed on Wednesday to anyone who could help solve her daughter's case.

"After several long years of searching for my daughter, we know she isn't coming home alive," Drexel said during the news conference. "We need your help so we can find Brittanee's remains and lay her to rest."

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of Drexel's killer or killers.

"We think we're at a point where one or two small pieces of information could put us over the edge," Thomas said.

In a similar case, Holloway vanished while on a high school graduation trip with friends to the Caribbean Island of Aruba in 2005. Despite strong public interest and the involvement of U.S. law enforcement, her case remains unsolved.

RELATED: Natalee Holloway's disappearance:

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Natalee Holloway
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New York teen who vanished in 2009 likely held captive, killed - FBI
Natalee Holloway is shown in this undated family photo. Three young men who were previously detained as suspects in the disappearance of the American teenager have been re-arrested in the case, the Aruban public prosecutor's office said Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007. (AP Photo/family photo)
A live image of Joran van der Sloot is seen on a monitor outside the court in the press room during the reading of his sentence at San Pedro prison in Lima, Peru, Friday Jan. 13, 2012. The Peruvian court sentenced Joran van der Sloot to 28 years in prison for murder of a young woman he met at a Lima casino, as the family of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway sought to have him prosecuted in the U.S. over her disappearance in 2005. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
** FILE ** A missing poster for Natalee Holloway, an Alabama high school graduate who disappeared while on a graduation trip to Aruba in May, is seen on Palm Beach, in front of her hotel in Aruba, in this June 10, 2005 file photo. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's call for a travel boycott of Aruba has gotten some support and national attention, but experts predict his message on behalf of Holloway's family will do little more than influence a few travelers from Alabama before it completely fizzles out. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Tourists, from left to right, Adam Wisler, 23, and Jennifer Gilmore, 24, of Cleveland, Ohio, Donny Fernandez, 33, and Madi Gower, 23, of Aruba, attend a prayer vigil for Natalee Holloway, 18, an Alabama high school graduate who disappeared while she was on a five-day graduation trip to Aruba, in the California area of Aruba, Sunday, June 5, 2005, a site where Holloway visited the night she was reported as missing. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Beth Holloway Twitty, mother of missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, leaves a press conference, Saturday, June 4, 2005, at the Holiday Inn, in Oranjestad, Aruba.Three men who said they dropped off an Alabama teenager at her hotel have emerged as "the most important lead" in the honor student's disappearance on this Dutch Caribbean island, police said Saturday. (AP Photo/Pedro Famous Diaz)
High rise hotels line the northwestern beaches of Aruba, Monday, June 13, 2005, the site where missing Alabama high school graduate Natalee Holloway stayed at the Holiday Inn, center right. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
A car decorated in Mountain Brook, Ala., in support of missing teen Natalee Holloway, is shown Monday, June 6, 2005. Holloway vanished May 30 during a five-day trip to Aruba with more than 100 other classmates celebrating their high school graduation. The government in Aruba called on thousands of civil servants and tourists to join in a massive islandwide search Monday for Holloway, while police, soldiers and FBI agents combed scrubland and beaches.(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Tourists Wayne and Jayme Koenig of Pittsburgh, Pa. sit near a missing sign of Natalee Holloway, 18, an Alabama high school graduate who disappeared while on a graduation trip to Aruba, on a dock in Palm Beach, Aruba, Tuesday, June 7, 2005, near the Holiday Inn hotel where Holloway stayed on her trip. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Police search a brush area next to the Marriot hotel on Palm Beach in Aruba, Tuesday, June 14, 2005, in connection with the disappearance of Alabama high school graduate Natalee Holloway on May 30. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Dutch marines stationed in the Caribbean island of Aruba begin a search for Natalee Holloway, 18, an Alabama high school graduate who disappeared while on a five-day graduation trip in Oranjestad, Aruba, Thursday, June 2, 2005. The Holloway family offered a reward for her safe return as more than a hundred tourists and locals volunteered to post fliers and help in the search. (AP Photo/Pedro Famous Diaz)
A diver of the Florida State University enters the water to dive in a cave near the California Lighthouse in Aruba, Saturday, July 9, 2005. The divers came to help in the search of missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, who disappeared on this Dutch Caribbean Island on May 30. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
** ADDS INFORMATION REGARDING CROSS TO THE SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS ** Volunteer member of Texas EquuSearch, Darryl Philips of Houston, TX, puts a yellow flag into the ground during a search for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway who disappeared on this Dutch Caribbean Island, May 30, in Aruba, Saturday, June 25, 2005. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
Joran van der Sloot, center, the Dutch teen detained in connection with the disappearance of Alabama high school graduate Natalee Holloway on May 30, arrives to the hospital for DNA tests in Oranjestad, Aruba, Wednesday, July 20, 2005. Investigators said Monday that they planned to conduct DNA tests on blond hair attached to duct tape that was found along the coast to see if it came from Holloway _ in a possible break to the six-week-old mystery. (AP Photo/Dino Tromp)
Dutch teen Joran van der Sloot, 18, enters his family's car as his mother Anita closes the door after he was conditionally released from the KAI jail in San Nicolas, Aruba, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2005. Sloot, who was jailed since June 9 in connection with the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway, remains a suspect but is free under the condition that he not leave the island and remain available to the police. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch)
A volunteer member of Texas EquuSearch, Mary Peter, of Brooksville, FL, leads her German Shepherd search dog Ruger on a ground search for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway who disappeared on this Dutch Caribbean Island on May 30, in northern Aruba, Tuesday, June 28, 2005. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch,POOL)
Volunteer member of Texas EquuSearch, Ralph Baird, left, of Houston, Texas, and Zed Ahmed, a volunteer not related to Texas EquuSearch, from Christiansburg, Va., pull in sonar equipment as they help search for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway who disappeared on this Dutch Caribbean Island on May 30, off the northwestern coast of Aruba, Sunday, June 26, 2005. (AP Photo/Leslie Mazoch) **EFE OUT **
Tears roll down the face of Beth Twitty as she stands with her husband George "Jug" Twitty, during a prayer meeting in support of families with missing children, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, at the Governor's Mansion in Montgomery, Ala. Twitty's daughter, Natalee Holloway has been missing since May 30, when she vanished in Aruba while on a trip with classmates celebrating their high school graduation. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
John F. Muldowney holds an underwater photo in his home in Manheim, Pa., Thursday, March 18, 2010, that his wife Patti took while the couple was on vacation in Aruba in early October 2009. The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era reported that the photo has been turned over to the FBI. Muldowney says he has a gut feeling that the picture may show the remains of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama honors student who disappeared in Aruba nearly five years ago. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Chile's police officers escort Dutch citizen Joran Van der Sloot , center, to "La Concordia" Peruvian police station, near the border with Chile in Tacna, Peru, Friday, June 4, 2010. Chilean police have turned over van der Sloot, murder suspect in Sunday's killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, to Peruvian authorities at the countries' border. Van der Sloot was previously arrested in the 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway, but later released by Dutch authorities. (AP Photo/Karel Navarro)
Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee Holloway, speaks during the opening of the Natalee Holloway Resource Center (NHRC) at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, Tuesday, June 8, 2010. Holloway's daughter disappeared in Aruba in 2005, and today launched a resource center named for Natalee to assist the families of missing persons. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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