On May 30th, 2005, the parents of Natalie Holloway received the worst news any parent can. Their daughter of just 19-years-old had disappeared during a trip to Aruba, A Dutch island that's part of the Caribbean.
Her story gripped headlines around the world in the early summer of 2005: 18-year-old Natalee Holloway had disappeared without a trace while taking a tropical dream vacation with her graduating class. After a search by police in Aruba and the FBI, no clues could be found. There was no body, no witnesses, no sign of where Natalee Holloway had gone after she left her friends at a popular Aruban bar the night before she was set to head home to Alabama. Suspicion has long surrounded Dutch national Joran van door Sloot, a resident on the island with a reputation for pursuing you women on the island. While van door Sloot was detained by police twice, he was released due to lack of evidence and lack of a body. So what happened to Natalee Holloway?
Frustrated by lack of answers more than a decade after her disappearance and desperately seeking closure in the likely death of his daugther, Natalee’s father, Dave Holloway, decided to take matters into his own hands. With the help of a private investigator, Holloway located a man who claimed to know just what happened to Natalee Holloway. This new informant’s tip led Dave Holloway to a shocking discovery. Is this the clue that will reveal what happened to Natalee Holloway more than a decade ago? Will Natalee Holloway’s bereaved parents finally have answers they seek, nearly 13 years after she mysteriously disappeared?
Natalee Holloway graduated from Mountain Brook High School, in the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala., on May 24, 2005. Natalee was known for her tiny stature, long blond hair and bubbly personality. She was a talented member of the school’s jazz dance team. Natalee’s friends describe her as innocent and sweet. She had an obsession with “The Wizard of Oz” and doted on her dog, painting its nails and putting highlights in its fur. Natalee wasn’t a risk taker and was shy around boys she had crushes on. She was a top performer academically and had earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. At the University of Alabama, Natalee had plans to major in pre-medicine and become a doctor. Celebrating her high school graduation and looking forward to joining a sorority at college in the fall, Natalee boarded a plane with 125 of her classmates to celebrate their recent graduation on the Caribbean island of Aruba. No one could predict that the island getaway would become a tragedy that would garner international attention in four short days, and that the story of Natalee Holloway would have people riveted more than a decade after her disappearance.
The Aruba police force sprung into action fast. They had questions as well as the parents and chaperones traveling with the group of teenagers.
The police needed to trace Natalee's last movements firstly. Then they'd have to identify who she was with, who last seen her, where she was and gather as much information as they could before they could fully focus their efforts on finding Natalee.
The police spoke with friends, took statements from Beth about her conversations, talked to the hotel staff and the seven chaperones accompanying the group of friends.
The Aruba police launched a full investigation. It has now been over a decade, the case has had many twists and turns, and still, the Aruba police continue to have questions without answers.
Natalee Holloway and her classmates vacationing without their parents for the first time. Newly 18, freshly graduated from high school and of legal drinking age in Aruba, the trip was, reportedly, a major party for the 125 students from Mountain Brook High School. The students hit the bars at night, gambled at Aruba’s casinos, slept late into the morning and relaxed on the beach during the day. Investigators documented that the teenagers, who were overseen by only seven adult chaperones, spent most of the trip drinking. There was drug use among some of the students, investigators noted. The partying teens were so wild, in fact, that they drew complaints from other vacationers at the Holiday Inn, and the hotel told the high school group that next year’s graduating class would not be welcomed to stay. According to investigators, the Alabama teens’ behavior was “reckless” on the trip, and they noted that Natalee participated in the partying, beginning each morning with a cocktail and dancing away the nights in a local bar. The seven chaperones checked in with the teenagers each morning to make sure there were no problems, but they largely left the students alone to enjoy their tropical celebration. Surely, Natalee and her classmates’ behavior was typical of teens just graduated high school and celebrating as they prepared for college. But in this case, the reckless behavior might have been the impetus for Natalee’s disappearance.
Natalee and her friends set out to make their fourth and final night in Aruba an evening to remember. On May 30, 2005, the teens went to a concert on Surfside Beach: Lauryn Hill and Boyz II Men. After the concert, Natalee and her friends headed to Carols ‘N Charlie’s, a popular Aruba bar where the teens danced and drank. Around midnight, three teenage boys, who lived on the island, made their way into the bar. Natalee would recognize one of the boys from a conversation at one of the island’s casinos days earlier. Natalee began talking with the boy she recognized. As she and her friends partied away their last night in Aruba, Natalee had fun drinking and dancing with the three boys. It was a night of fun and partying, the perfect end to their last trip as high school classmates. But the night would take a horrible turn when Natalee made a decision that surprised everyone. That decision would lead to a tragedy and a host of questions that have remained unanswered for more than a decade.
Shortly after midnight, the party began to wind down as Natalee’s tired friends began to get tired and return to the hotel. Witnesses that night say Natalee and the three boys she met up with that night partied in the bar until around 1:30 a.m. At that point, Natalee’s friends watched as she climbed into a car with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot, 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe and 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe. Some of the friends who were with her at the bar said they tried to stop the visibly drunk Natalee from getting in the car with three foreign strangers. Other friends said they weren’t concerned at watching Natalee go. With her reputation for responsibility, they trusted she knew what she was doing. But one irresponsible decision would lead to tragic consequences. That night, it seems, Natalee put her trust in the wrong people. That night, getting into the car with three strangers, would be the last time any of her friends saw her. But just what happened to Natalee Holloway after she left the bar that night?