Missing Persons

A Short History Of Natalee Holloway, Who Vanished Without A Trace In 2005

A look back at one of the most publicized missing person cases to date.

The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway premieres Saturday, August 19 at 7/6c and 9/8c.

She remains one of the most publicized missing person cases to date. Natalee Ann Holloway vanished on May 30, 2005, while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba. The 18-year-old honor student and dancer had finished high school just days before the trip.

“Natalee was an original,” one of her classmates and friends later recalled. She was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. She had more Wizard of Oz stuff in her room than you'd ever seen! She was in love with Lynyrd Skynyrd. And she had a Sheltie named Macy. She loved that dog so much; she would color its hair with highlighters and paint its toenails.”

Natalee was also a brilliant student who'd been accepted to the University of Alabama on a full scholarship to study pre-med. She was supposed to fly home to Mountain Brook, Alabama on May 30, but she never showed up for her flight. At first her peers thought she had just fallen asleep on the beach. But, the reality was a lot less sunny.

Holloway was last seen by her classmates outside of Carlos 'n Charlie's, a restaurant and nightclub. At that point she was in a car with Joran van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.

Her disappearance almost immediately became an international media sensation and the photograph of the young blonde became a household image. Aruban investigators with the help of hundreds of volunteers, the FBI, 50 Dutch soldiers, divers and others searched for Holloway’s body, which, to this day, has never been found.

The three men who were last in Natalee’s company were questioned by police. They all claimed that they dropped the teen off at her hotel and denied knowing what became of her. But that story changed a few times. Van der Sloot was arrested twice on suspicion of involvement in her disappearance. The Kalpoes were each arrested three times. Also arrested in connection with her vanishing, hotel security guards Nick John and Abraham Jones, disc jockey Steve Gregory Croes and Paulus van der Sloot, Joran's father.

All were released because there was no evidence to charge any of them.

In 2007, Aruban prosecutors announced that the case would be closed without any charges made. The case was reopened less than one year later after Van der Sloot stated in a video that Holloway died the morning she went missing and that his friend got rid of her body.

He later denied that confession, and instead claimed that he sold Holloway into slavery. In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Van der Sloot also said he extorted money from Holloway's parents for the location of their daughter's body, which was never revealed. He claimed he did it because her parents "have been making my life tough for five years."

On May 30, 2010, five years to the day of Natalee's disappearance, 21-year-old business student Stephany Flores was murdered in Joran van der Sloot's hotel in Peru. He was arrested in Chile and brought back to Peru, where he was charged with Flores’ murder. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison for the crime.

"Justice is being served for Stephany Flores, thank God,'' Holloway’s mother Beth told TODAY. "And he is in prison in Peru. But justice has not been served for Natalee."

Holloway’s family has spoken out against Aruba officials claiming that they didn’t do a good job on their daughter’s case. They aren’t the only ones that feel that way.

Jossy Mansur, editor of Diario Aruba told CNN, “I think that everyone here is aware that this case was mishandled from the beginning."

On January 12, 2012, Alabama judge Alan King declared Holloway legally dead.

[Top Photo: NBC News]

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