ROCHESTER, NY (WMBF) - She vanished without a trace more than a year ago, and now one New York high school will be honoring the disappearance of Brittanee Drexel with an honorary diploma.
Drexel was to graduate alongside her friends and classmates from Gates Chili High School on June 23, but instead of accepting an hard-earned diploma herself, the teen's family will be doing it for her.
"[The school] called last week to inform me that [it] would honor my daughter with an honorary diploma," Dawn Drexel, the teen's mom, said. "This entire ordeal is so real. I miss my daughter and ache for her to come home."
The teen, who was 17 at the time of her disappearance, was last seen in the area of 11th Avenue South and 20th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach. Drexel was in the Grand Strand against the will of her mother.
Contact was lost between Drexel and her family in New York on April 25, 2009, the same night authorities said she disappeared. The last signal ping from her cell phone came the next night near the South Santee River.
Since Drexel's disappearance, several search efforts for the teen have been executed from Horry County to Charleston County. Despite the efforts fronted by area police and the CUE Center for Missing Persons, each search effort has fallen short.
Both the Myrtle Beach Police Department and Georgetown County Sheriff's Office have full-time investigators working only on the Drexel case, according to authorities.
In April, authorities publicly pinpointed three or four persons of interest who have all been previously questioned by authorities in connection to the case. Lt. Neil Johnson, spokesman for the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office at the time, could not confirm a time frame in which the suspects were questioned.
Two of the suspects, according to Johnson, were subjected to lie detector tests. Johnson, however, would not comment on the results of the tests.
"At this time, there is no reason to believe these people [the persons of interest] know Drexel directly," Johnson said.
Myrtle Beach Police Det. Vincent Dorio said the recent advancements in the case in April developed from a tip, and detectives are confident the information is leading them in the right direction to finding who might be responsible for Drexel's disappearance.
CrimeStoppers of the Lowcountry continues to offer a reward for any information on Drexel's whereabouts. Anyone with information regarding the disappearance of Drexel is urged to contact the agency at 1-888-CRIME-SC.
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