Alabama Teen Natalee Holloway Missing in Aruba

Alabama Teen Still Missing in Aruba (AP)

Natalee Holloway disappeared on the last night of a trip to Aruba to celebrate her graduation from high school. Four days later, the Alabama teenager is still missing, despite an extensive search of the Dutch Caribbean island. “Honestly, at the beginning, we were hopeful the girl would come back,” said police Superintendent Jan van der Straaten. “Today, we are more and more thinking about the possibility of a crime.”

On the island remarkable for its absence of violent crime, hundreds of residents and tourists posted fliers to help the hunt. FBI agents helped the Dutch military and Aruba police scour outlying scrubland with helicopters and all-terrain vehicles but found no trace of the 18-year-old. Aruba radio and television stations broadcast a reward offer from Holloway’s family, though they did not specify an amount. The family promised to reward anyone who brings her safely to a police station or hospital. “Everybody has been quite supportive,” the teenager’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, told The Associated Press. “I am not leaving. I am going to have Natalee with me.”

Holloway came to Aruba for a five-day excursion with 124 seniors and 40 chaperons from Mountain Brook High School, near Birmingham, Ala. She was last seen around 2 a.m. Monday, Attorney General Caren Janssen said Thursday. Police discount the possibility she left the island, because they found her passport in her hotel room, van der Straaten said.

Hopes were lifted briefly just before midnight Thursday when a news photographer said he had seen Holloway on the west side of the island. Police rushed to the scene but found an island girl who fit the description but had brown hair, not Holloway’s long blond tresses.

Dressed in the same blue-and-green striped, low-cut blouse and denim miniskirt that she wore at the beach earlier in the day, Holloway spent Sunday evening partying at Carlos ‘N Charlie’s, a popular restaurant and dance spot where tourists and locals meet in the capital, Oranjestad. She left 10 minutes before closing at 1 a.m., said the restaurant’s master of ceremonies Jose Hernandez, 38. “Nothing was out of the ordinary.” Friends saw her getting into a vehicle outside the nightclub. She did not show up to catch her flight Monday. Her stepmother, Robin Holloway, said Natalee was last seen with a local resident who claimed to be a foreign exchange student.

Police questioned and released three Aruban students who said they dropped Holloway off early Monday at the Holiday Inn where she had been staying, about three miles from Oranjestad, said police assistant inspector Jules Sambo. “We don’t have any indication as to if she is alive,” Sambo said. “The whole population is aware that she is missing. The police are doing everything to find her.”

Several family members arrived the day after she disappeared. Her mother and her father, David Holloway of Meridian, Miss., went on television Thursday night to appeal to residents for information. “Natalee is a well-traveled teenager. She has traveled to Europe, Canada,” family spokeswoman Marcia Twitty told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” She added that Holloway would not get into a car with strangers. “This is totally, totally out of character for Natalee,” she said.

The island of 72,000 off the coast of Venezuela has a reputation of being all but free of crime for tourists. There was one murder and six rapes last year and two murders and three rapes this year. But all the rapes were committed by local men against local women. The two murders involved drug addicts who died in knife fights.

Bizarre. One hopes she’s safe but that does not seem likely at this point.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    Emm Ess Emm is ready for the new episode of “White Women in Trouble,” eh?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Yep, apparently. If not for the Alabama angle, this one likely would have stayed off my radar screen entirely. I generally Just. Don’t. Care.

  3. Virginia (Missouri) says:

    We are praying for the safe return of Natalee and may God be with her,her family and friends.

  4. Jeremy H says:

    All of us here in Massachusetts hope for the best for Natalee,her family and friends our harts and prayers are with you all.

  5. Michele says:

    Best thoughts to the family. Eveyrone is saying how safe Aruba is because of the low murder and rapes however there are a number of people, both men and women who have simply disappeared….

  6. Jane says:

    if natalee was a fat,ugly girl with short curly hair and zits on her face,the whole world would’t stop and be glued to the tv and it would’t be front page news. i hope she is found safe and unharmed however I wish that all missing people were given this tpe of media coverage, not just the pretty ones.

  7. Jane says:

    if natalee was a fat,ugly girl with short curly hair and zits on her face,the whole world would’t stop and be glued to the tv and it would’t be front page news. i hope she is found safe and unharmed however I wish that all missing people were given this type of media coverage, not just the pretty ones.

  8. Alan says:

    People, let’s realize what’s really going on here.

    The situation in Aruba over the last two weeks reminds me of the movie, “Jaws,” when the mayor of Amity ignores the warning about the shark problem and keeps the beaches open. What is going on in Aruba is exactly the same.

    Authorities in Aruba – a domicle with no meaningful professional crimminal investigation resources — have been extremely slow to bring in support from the outside in finding this girl. Up until a week ago, the head of the government in Aruba was actually insisting they could handle this “on their own.”

    Yep, no professional search teams, no bloodhounds, no boats with side-scan radar (THE tool you use when you are trying to locate a body that is underwater close to shore). Which suggests they obviously had another agenda. The Aruban government was less interested in finding Natalee and more interested in sweeping this unfortunate incident under the straw rug, hoping that bookings didn’t get cancelled and that future tourists wouldn’t get scared away..

    Which is why it took them 9 DAYS — yes, NINE — to FINALLY arrest the prime supects, the three men who left the bar with Natalee that night.

    NINE DAYS.

    This morning they FINALLY arrested Joran Andreas Petrus Van Der Sloot, a student at Aruba International School who is studying to be a…judge….(and whose father is a judge in Aruba), along with two Surinamese brothers idenfitied only as Satish and Deepak K.

    Throughout the course of this seemingly illogical, backwater-style “investigation,” I have wondered why the three young men who saw her last – the obvious, logical primary suspects – were questioned and released so quickly.

    However, as a result of the three pals’ initial statements, the government made a big show out of the arrest of two former security guards, Jones and Johns, who were never seen by anyone with Natalee. The “evidence” against these two? Reputations for hanging around the tourist places bumming cigarettes or flirting with women. These two “fall guys” have now been held in custody since last week awaiting “further developments” (which per Dutch law can take months) which would determine whether they are ever formally charged with a crime.

    In the meantime, Van Der Sloot, who is alleged to have had a so-called “romantic relationship” with Natalee the last night of her trip, has had nine days to:

    – clean up his car
    – ditch any clothing and other incriminating items
    – pay off his friends
    – call in chips
    – and swear to daddy — the high ranking local official — that he had absolutely, positively nothing to do with Natalee’s disappearance.

    Either the Aruban investigators were bluffing by arresting Jones and Johnson and carefully watching Van Der Sloot — to see if he behaved like someone with something to hide — or they are spectacularly, blatantly incompetent. Now that there is finally a strong FBI presence on the island, I would prefer to believe that this was a deliberate strategy to flush out the real perpetrator, and that Satish and Deepak will now sing like canaries, but that may just be wishful thinking.

    Whatever, the reality of this event is finally emerging. Natalee was apparently smitten with the charming and resourceful Van Der Sloot, who appears in every photograph scattered around the Internet clutching an alcoholic beverage or in some curiously compromising position. Unfortunately, his plans for a waterfront liason with a drunken female tourist must have gone terribly awry, and his possible attempt to cover up subsequent reckless behavior has put a rather hedonistic life in the international spotlight, one so powerful that even daddy — and the Aruban government — cannot extinguish it.

  9. Ken says:

    It is so tragic that a young woman with her whole life ahead of her could go missing (and presumed dead) on what should have been an event of a lifetime. My heart goes out to her family and friends and certainly her community.

    Ken

  10. N. Litz & Family says:

    GOD BLESS ALL OF NATALEE’S FAMILIY & FRIENDS DURING THIS TIME OF CRISIS & TRAGEDY! I AM A MOTHER OF A 17 Y.O GIRL & I CAN FEEL FOR YOU AND NATALEES FATHER!
    KEEP FAITH & COURAGE & MOST OF ALL DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DAUGHTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DO NOT GIVE UP UNTIL YOU FIND HER, RATHER ALIVE OR PASSED AWAY! YOU AS A MOTHER OWE THIS TO NATALEE,TO FIND HER!
    GOD BLESS YOU ALL & WE WILL CONTINUE OUR PRAYERS & THOUGHTS OF NATALLE IN OUR HOME UNTIL SHE IS FOUND! FROM MICHIGAN!