CONWAY — Classmates, family and others are searching the Conway area for a pair of missing N.C. teenagers on the recommendations of numerous psychics, the sister of one of the boys said Wednesday morning.
The psychics told Jackie Ziegler the boys are injured, in a car that is upside down in a desolate area, Ziegler said Wednesday in Conway as searchers gathered to look for the pair. They have been missing since early Saturday morning.
Horry County area law enforcement officials are not involved in the search, both Jackie Ziegler and the boy’s father Zig Ziegler said, but initially provided them with a conference room to set up an operations base. Zig Ziegler also rented a helicopter to search the Conway area Wednesday morning.
Jake Ziegler, 18, and Ray Pierce, 17, left a party near Sherrills Ford, N.C., in the early-morning hours Saturday, telling friends they were headed for Myrtle Beach to see the sun rise. The two, seniors at Bandys High School, haven’t been seen since.
One group of searchers gathered at 8 a.m. Wednesday in Conway to look across the Myrtle Beach area. Meanwhile, others planned to travel along the Interstate 77 corridor from south of Rock Hill to Columbia.
Jackie Ziegler said she does not believe her brother would run away and not contact her.
“If my brother knew what we were doing to find him, he wouldn’t want us to go through this,” she said. “There’s no chance in hell that he would want to see me crying on television to find him.”
Jackie Ziegler said her brother got into a fight with his girlfriend and started acting strange. He went to a party Friday night and told friends early Saturday that he and Ray were going to Myrtle Beach to see the sun rise, Jackie Ziegler said.
On Thursday, Jake Ziegler sent a Tweet from his account saying he wanted to get “intentionally lost.”
Classmates from Bandys High School drove down to help with the search, many wearing yellow T-shirts and sweatshirts that read “#FindJakeandRay.”
Horry County police have not initiated a specific search for the teens, but will be alert for any sign of them, Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said in a statement Wednesday.
“All Horry County Police officers on duty have been given information regarding the vehicle and missing boys’ descriptions and will be actively looking while on patrol,” she said. “If any concrete evidence leading to Horry County being their location surfaces, searching strategies will be re-evaluated at that time. We are in contact with SLED and will continue to work with them as any information becomes available.”
Jackie Ziegler said she was frustrated that police weren’t helping with the search.
“I understand that a psychic is not evidence. But every minute he sits in that car there is a [lesser] chance that I’m going to bring him home,” she said, fighting back tears.
The Horry County Police asked them to leave the public safety building because the room was booked for other commitments Wednesday, so they relocated to the lobby of a nearby Sleep Inn.
Assistant General Manager Karyn H. Garris said she understood the pain of the Ziegler and Pierce families.
“My niece went missing seven years ago down near Charleston, so I feel for them,” she said. “I told them they could set up in the lobby.”
At about 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jackie Ziegler worked in the Sleep Inn lobby to divvy up routes to about 30 searchers, some local volunteers and some from North Carolina. The North Carolina residents who planned to return home were assigned different routes where they could search the roads for any sign of the teens. Jackie Ziegler said she was unsure how long they would stay in the area.
The last known contact from the teens came from the I-77 area. Authorities say one of the teens sent a text message about 2:45 a.m. Saturday, and they say the phone was in use on I-77 in Fairfield County, between exits 45 and 48. That is about 35 miles north of Columbia. The signal bounced off a cell tower in Rock Hill.
Family members say the teens’ cell phones and bank cards have not been used since then.
The S.C. Law Enforcement Division used its helicopter to search along I-77 on Tuesday, but crews did not see anything, the Charlotte Observer reported.
SLED has issued an advisory to law enforcement agencies statewide to be on the lookout for the pair. They were driving a green 2006 Pontiac G6, with N.C. license tags BBD-8844.
The parents are offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who finds the missing teenagers, according to a Facebook page about the search.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said an advisory was sent to law enforcement agencies late Tuesday afternoon. He said the agency is not yet involved in any search for the teenagers.
Both teenagers are described as being about 5-foot, 11-inches tall and weighing about 150 pounds each. Ziegler was last seen wearing gray cargo shorts and a royal blue T-shirt with white reverse lettering. Pierce was wearing blue jeans, a red and gray RVCA jacket and Timberland boots.
Anyone with information is asked to call 888-CRIME-SC.
The Charlotte Observer contributed to this report.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.