Drexel investigators swarm Sunset Lodge

  • Thursday, August 4, 2011

The search for a missing New York teenager moved further south this week after state investigators and others from the Myrtle Beach Police Department combed a local apartment complex looking for clues.
Yellow crime scene tape surrounded apartment 22 in the Sunset Lodge apartments in Georgetown County as the search continued throughout the day Monday for missing teenager Brittanee Drexel.
Numerous investigators brought boxes and bags out of the small apartment, but said nothing about why the search led them to that area or what clues they discovered.
Myrtle Beach Police declined to give the former tenant’s name and would not say why they looked in his old apartment.
“We will not be providing any further information detailing the name of the subject, why we think they may be involved or where we go from here,” said Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes. “The search was one of many that we have conducted and there are no arrest(s) expected at this time.”
The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office referred all questions to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.
Officials from SLED did not immediately return calls Monday afternoon.
Knipes said the search warrant was issued because a “person of interest” lived in the apartment at the time of Drexel’s disappearance.
The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office referred questions to the S.C. Law Enforcement Division.
Calls to SLED were not returned Monday afternoon.

“Mr. Clean”

Residents who live in the area said they knew the man who once lived in the apartment only as “Mr. Clean.”
He was known as Mr. Clean because of his appearance, said a resident.
“He’s lived here three or four times,” said the Sunset Lodge property owner. “The police just told me they wanted to look in that room.”
Residents said the man, who once lived in Apartment 22, moved in a day before Drexel vanished and stayed there for about six months.
Sunset Lodge resident Janice Driggers said she just moved into apartment 22, but was told by police last week she would have to leave.
“I moved in Tuesday but I had to move by Wednesday,” she said. “I was staying in that apartment [22], but I had to move to Apartment 21.”
Sunset Lodge tenant Herbert Knox said he spoke to the man several times and thought he was a nice person.
He often saw him riding a bicycle or driving his truck, he said.
Knox said he thought highly of the man “until this happened.”
“I talked to him,” he said. “He was a nice guy. I never knew his name or nothing.”
Drexel's mother, Dawn, told reporters on Monday that she believed the search of the apartment would lead to a resolution of the case.
For more than two years, the search for Drexel has stretched from Myrtle Beach — where she was last seen in April 2009 — to Charleston.
The main focus has been in the  North Santee Community along the Georgetown-Charleston County border.
The remote area is where her cell phone last gave a signal the night she vanished, investigators said.
Investigators and numerous search teams have also combed the area surrounding Old Georgetown Road, but have found few clues to her whereabouts.
The searches have taken place by water and on land, with people on foot, four-wheeled, all terrain vehicles and on horseback.
A Web site dedicated to the search for Drexel has also been established by her family.
Drexel’s mother and other relatives have helped search Georgetown County and Myrtle Beach, looking for the missing teenager.

By Kelly M. Fuller and Scott Harper
Kfuller@gtowntimes.com, Sharper@gtowntimes.com

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