The case of three women found alive in Cleveland after being missing for 10 years offers new hope to the family of Brittanee Drexel, the teenager who vanished in Myrtle Beach four years ago.
Brittanee, who was 17 at the time, left her Rochester, N.Y., home for the Grand Strand.
“Anything is possible,” said her mother, Dawn Drexel. “We've always had hope that she was still alive,”
The three missing women escaped their captor Monday afternoon.
“They were lucky. I am glad the families got some resolution,” Drexel said.
She thinks Brittanee is being held captive. Drexel pointed to the case of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped by a couple in 1981, when she was 11, and held for 18 years in tents and a shack in their backyard.
“This is what the people do. They hold the girls captive,” she said.
She continues to believe that her daughter is alive, because no one can prove otherwise.
“I think someone knows what happened,” she said.
Two Facebook pages are dedicated to finding Brittanee. She is described as 4 feet, 11 inches tall. She has brown hair with blond highlights, bright blue eyes and a small, skinny build.
“I get tips all the time,” Drexel said.
Some have perpetrated a cruel hoax by pretending they are Brittanee on Facebook, Drexel said.
Police tell her the case is still active, but not much else.
“They haven't really stated a lot,” she said.
Brittanee went missing on April 25, 2009. She was last seen on video leaving the Blue Water Hotel in Myrtle Beach. Her belongings were found in the room.
Her cellphone gave off its last signal near the South Santee River in Georgetown County the day after her disappearance. Searchers on horseback and with teams of dogs have concentrated on the woods near there.
Police have said there are several “persons of interest” in the Drexel case. A task force of investigators from Myrtle Beach, the State Law Enforcement Division and the Georgetown and Charleston county sheriff's offices have been working the case.
Brittanee snuck away to the Grand Strand on spring break after telling her mother that she was spending the weekend at a friend's house. Her parents had told her she couldn't go to South Carolina because of poor grades.
On April 25, the family returned to Mytle Beach to mark the anniversary of her disappearance. They passed out forget-me-not seedlings to plant in a park. The event was part of a renewed effort to find the teenager.
Brittanee is among 20 South Carolinians listed at the website of the CUE Center for Missing Persons in Wilmington, N.C., whose founder, Monica Caison, cheered news of the three Ohio women being found.
“It's an amazing victory. It's kind of like our Super Bowl when things like this happen,” Caison said.
Hundreds of families long for the same thing, she said.
Three brothers, ages 50 to 54, were arrested in the Cleveland case.
One of them, former school bus driver Ariel Castro, owned the home where the women were being held, The Associated Press reported.