CRIME
10/23/2012 03:33 pm ET | Updated Oct 29, 2012

Jake Ziegler And Ray Pierce Missing: Authorities Search For Teens Who Vanished During Road Trip

Authorities in two states are hoping for leads in the disappearance of two teens that disappeared more than a week ago during an impromptu road trip.

Jake Ziegler, 18, and Ray Pierce, 17, both high school seniors from Sherrills Ford, N.C., have been missing since Oct. 13. There has been no recent activity on their cell phones or bank accounts, police said.

On the morning of their disappearance, the boys told friends they planned to drive to Myrtle Beach, S.C., but would be back by the following day. Pierce sent a text message to his girlfriend at about 1:30 a.m. saying, "We're almost at the beach." No one has heard from either teen since.

Cell phone records obtained by police show Pierce's phone last pinged a cell tower about an hour later in Rock Hill. Authorities believe the signal originated from I-77, between mile markers 44 and 47 in Fairfield County.

Investigators do not suspect the boys ran away or met with foul play. They suspect there was an automobile accident along the highway and the green Pontiac in which the couple was traveling in is making it difficult for authorities to spot the wreckage.

Local and state authorities today are focusing search efforts along I-77 and Great Falls in Chester County. Meanwhile, the families of the missing teens have hired a private investigator to help.

"We just need that next piece to give us another direction," private investigator Kevin Ryan told reporters Sunday.

Jake Ziegler's father, Zig Ziegler, said he is worried the boys could be hurt and need urgent medical attention.

"My son doesn't have much longer, if he's alive. I believe he is," Ziegler said.

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