Natalee Holloway is a name that flooded headlines surrounding her disappearance in 2005. Her case is one that resonates with everybody, whether they are a young traveler like Natalee, or they are loving parents like her own. And while the disappearance may have happened years ago, new evidence has appeared that shocked millions. Check out our gallery and see what you missed about the captivating disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
The Disappearance Heard Around The World
Natalee Holloway was born in October of 1986 and lived a very normal, happy childhood. She grew up in Alabama with her parents David and Beth. However, that normal life soon turned tragic when their life was rocked by a phone call they received on May 30, 2005. That was when they learned that their daughter had vanished during her trip to the Dutch island of Aruba, in the Caribbean.
Parents' Worst Nightmare
Natalee's parents were told by Authorities that their daughter never came back to the hotel. As much as the news shocked her family, it spread like wildfire around the world via the media. The Holloway family would never be the same due to the spread of news of their family's tragedy. The family had to deal with the disappearance at nearly the same pace as the rest of the world due to it being spread so fast through news outlets.
Shocking, To Say The Least
Natalee's mom, Beth, was stunned by the news because she had spoken to her daughter frequently throughout her Caribbean vacation. During all of these talks with her daughter, nothing made Beth think that something might be going wrong with Natalee’s seemingly ideal vacation. Because of their frequent communication with each other, Beth could only be shocked by the news that her daughter could not be located. Anything else seemed too unreal to believe at that time.
The Questions Start To Emerge
The investigators in Aruba had a lot of questions that they wanted to be answered in order to track down the newly missing traveler. The first and most obvious question was: where did Natalee go after she was last seen? To find out her whereabouts, police looked at the places she visited on the night before she vanished. They were also asking themselves who she was with and who might have been the last person to see her.
Despite the massive police investigation efforts and worldwide media attention on the small island in the Caribbean, it has taken over a decade to uncover any convincing evidence with the potential to offer any clues into what happened to the teenage girl on that fateful night. To begin, it is important to know why Natalee was on vacation in Aruba in the first place.
On May 24, 2005, Natalee graduated from Mountain Brook High School in her home state of Alabama. Six days later, she was gone. She had gone to Aruba with a group from her high school. The group was made up of 125 recently graduated kids looking to celebrate one last time before embarking on the next chapter of their lives. They chose the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba because it was the ideal destination for a tropical paradise. Natalee had planned to attend the University of Alabama after her vation, but sadly, fate took a different turn on her Aruba getaway.
Natalee In High School
Natalee excelled in all aspects of high school, including academics and athletics. She was active in a variety of school activities, including cheerleading. She was also an excellent dancer. During her time at both school and at home, Natalee got along with everybody, including her younger brother Matthew.
One Last Party
Natalee was excited for her Aruba adventure during the summer after her high school graduation. She saw it as one last time to party with her friends from high school before heading off to college. Sadly, no one had any idea that this would be her last trip.
Ready To Go Back Home
When her friends and some of the school staff went to look for her in her hotel room in Aruba, they found everything she had brought with her packed nice and neat. It seemed that she was ready to head home for her to start her next adventure at the University of Alabama shortly after she planned on getting back home.
The organization responsible for sending the group of 125 recent graduates to Aruba sen over seven chaperones. The group of adults responsible for the group say that they met with the teenagers daily to keep tabs on everybody, but even their best efforts were not able to prevent what happened to Natalee.
The trip was planned to help the students unwind after their high school exams. It was set up to give them a break from their hard work at the end of the semester and let them unwind before starting their new chapter as college students. The kids saw it as a way to really let loose and party in another country. The drinking began almost immediately upon their arrival to the island due to the legal drinking age being 18 in Aruba. The local police suspected the students were involved in using drugs as well. The chaperones reportedly had no idea this was going on.
According to the Aruba police, the students were acting recklessly. The high school students’ wild behavior even upset other people at the hotel. The group spent four nights at a local Holiday Inn, and according to Gerold Dompig, a police officer involved in the investigation into Natalee’s disappearance, the students were acting “recklessly” during their stay. The complaints at the hotel were so severe that the chaperones were told they weren't allowed to stay at the hotel ever again.
One Too Many
The Holiday Inn staff reported that they never saw Natalee without a drink in her hand. They added that her drinking began early in the morning and continued late into the night. Two of Natalee's friends confirmed this adding that she was too hungover to attend breakfast in the mornings.
The Trip Started Out Great
Despite the issues with the alcohol, the trip went well according to the other young members of the group. So, on the last night of the trip, the group decided to go to a local bar called Carlos’ n’ Charlie’s. This is where Natalee first met 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot who was a Dutch national and a high school student who lived in Aruba.
Van der Sloot went to that bar with his friends Satish and Deepak, who were two older classmates. They were talking to each other throughout the night at the bar, and she was last seen leaving the bar with van der Sloot at about 1:30 a.m. Her friends thought that Holloway wanted to have a fun night with a boy she met on vacation, but little did they know that it would be the last time they ever saw her.
The chaperones in charge on the trip became very alarmed the following morning when they couldn't find Natalee. Calls to her cell phone went straight to voice mail, and her baggage and belongings, including her passport, were neatly arranged in her hotel room. Everything seemed to be in order but they could not find Natalee. They even noticed that no one had slept in her bed, which was the start of the suspicion. They called the hotel management as well as the police. This is when the official search for Natalee began.
Parents Come To Help
Soon after word got back to the U.S. about Natalee's disappearance, her parents flew to Aruba to assist in the search. They told them everything they knew about Natalee’s last night in the area. They told them about the visit to Carlos’n Charlies, the boys Natalee met and everything else Natalee’s friends had shared with them. Her parents even stayed in Natalee’s room at the hotel as they searched for their daughter. The hotel manager knew who van der Sloot was and the police set about looking for the local high school student.
The police took Natalee’s parents with them when they went to talk to Van der Sloot for the first time. For their part, her parents thought they might find their daughter with him at his home. When they got to his house, they found his friend Deepak was there, but Natalee was still nowhere to be seen. Van der Sloot claimed he didn't know anything about Natalee's disappearance and he added that she was fine when they saw her last and denied any knowledge of what happened to the girl.
His Side Of The Story
According to van der Sloot, Natalee claimed she wanted to see the sharks around Arashi Beach, so they were planning to go out to that area. Natalee then changed her mind and asked to be taken to her hotel so that she would not miss her flight home, which was scheduled for early the next morning. Van der Sloot admitted that Natalee had a lot to drink at the bar and was quite inebriated that it was difficult for her to walk and speak properly. He said he saw what they thought was a hotel security guard walk up to Natalee but were not aware of what happened after that. Once the police told Natalee's parents about what Van der Sloot had told them, her parents did not believe Van Der Sloot's story.
No More Leads
Despite all of their hard work and best efforts, no leads came about in the search for the missing teenager. Van der Sloot’s friend’s car was taken by the police as evidence connected to the disappearance of Holloway. At first, the local law enforcement officials said that they had made the discovery of blood in the back seat but that was later found to not be the lead that they thought it would be. After a month of searching for Natalee, the evidence police gathered seemed to suggest multiple outcomes. At one point, two hotel security guards were taken into custody as suspects. The police suspected them both of assault and murder of the young girl, but soon after they were released when no real evidence linking them to her disappearance.
On June 9, 2005, it was announced that all the evidence the police had collected indicated that the American teen had been killed. The minister of justice announced that all of the evidence that had been collected indicated that Natalee was, in fact, dead. This was a statement that he was forced to walk back a few days later. However, soon after, he retracted his statement saying that the case was still open and they plan to look as hard as ever for the missing girl.
Soon after, two people decided to come forward to give new evidence from the fateful night. A local gardener said that he saw van der Sloot at some point between 2 and 3 a.m. He claimed that the high school student was still with his two friends and they were leaving the beach near the Marriott Hotel. Another witness came forward and claimed to see several men burying the body of a woman in a landfill. Both areas were searched by police but nothing was found.
After taking Van der Sloot back into custody and then releasing him on multiple occasions, the authorities had no additional evidence in the disappearance of Natalee and the case was officially closed two and a half years after her initial appearance.
Murder In Peru
Van der Sloot was arrested and convicted of killing a business school student in Peru. In May 2010, the body of the young student was found in a hotel room that van der Sloot had booked. He was extradited from Chile back to Peru, arrested, tried and convicted of the killing. Although it was not an arrest connected to Natalee, it showed that he is capable of murder.
Confession In The Natalee Case
While arrested in Peru, Van Der Sloot confessed to the murder of Natalee Holloway. He simply told authorities that he killed her and fled the scene. He offered to tell the Peruvian authorities where they could find Natalee’s body but, sadly, they were not interested in that and the body has never been found.