Family and friends hold candlelight vigil for Brittanee Drexel

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CHILI, N.Y. (WHEC) — Family and friends gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil as they continue to seek closure, 13-years after Chili teen Brittanee Drexel went missing. The gathering is the first one since her remains were found earlier this month.

Wednesday also happens to be National Missing Children’s Day. All who attended not only came to remember Brittanee, but all other missing children.

"It’s bittersweet. I know maybe now they can have closure, but it’s still bittersweet," said Alicia Joy.

Whether they are complete strangers or watched Drexel grow up, more than two dozen people gathered at the memorial tree planted in her honor at Davis Park in Chili. Joy said she felt the need to attend.

"My heart just wanted to be here with this family. I mean my heart breaks for what they’ve gone through for the 13 years, and I just wanted to be a part of this for them," Joy said.

Brittanee was in Myrtle Beach for spring break. She was last seen alive on April 25, 2009. Two weeks ago her remains were found, and her killer has since confessed to murdering her. Daniel Sullivan, and his family can relate to what the Drexels have experienced. His son Brian has been missing for years as well.

"It’s a blessing that Brittanee was recovered, and hopefully it will bring some kind of peace, and rest for the family, but the tragic way that she went will never heal," Sullivan said.

The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children worked on Brittanee’s case from the very start. Candles were lit at the gathering, and a prayer was offered to Brittanee, and other missing children.

"There’s a lot of families that need the love, support, and prayers from the community, and if people do know something we ask that they do come forward because these families need that closure, and it’s important," said close family friend Michael Slattery.

Brittanee’s stepmother, Kristy, as well as her sister, Myrissa, thanked all those who attended.

"We appreciate all the prayers, and all the continued prayers that you have for the family to support us during this time," said Kristy Drexel.

The Drexel family says a Celebration of Life will be held for Brittanee at The Father’s House Prayer Chapel in Chili on June 11 beginning at 9 a.m.