Questions begin, but there's Never an Answer

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.

A raucous and “reckless” party

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.

Last night in Aruba

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.

Natalee does something that shocks her friends

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?

Natalee goes missing

Natalee’s roommate was the first to realize something was amiss. She woke up to find that Natalee had not returned to their hotel room the night before. Assuming that Natalee had slept in another room to avoid waking her up the night before, Natalee’s roommate headed down the hotel hallway, knocking on classmates’ doors to try to locate Natalee. But as the search for Natalee spread that morning, one sign seemed to indicate that Natalee had never returned for her night out partying: Natalee’s suitcases stood ready for the airport; they hadn’t been touched since she carefully packed them the afternoon before for the return trip to Alabama. Natalee’s close friends notified the chaperones, and their small search intensified. Surely, Natalee would turn up. They had no idea that the situation would turn dire in a few short hours.

A return home without Natalee

Natalee had been texting her mother regularly from her cell phone throughout the trip, but now that constant connection was broken. Calls to Natalee’s cell phone went instantly to voicemail. Natalee’s friends approached the police officers who were stationed in the hotel to tell them that their friend had not returned to the hotel after her night out. They took notes but seemed to do nothing else. Natalee’s classmates boarded the plane home without her. With the exception of her roommate, who had raised the alarm, and the few who had helped look for Natalee, her friends assumed that she had headed out to enjoy the sandy beaches one last time. It wasn’t until they landed in Alabama that they would realize the horrible truth: Natalee had not been seen since the night before. She was nowhere to be found on Aruba. A massive search was about to begin on Aruba, and Natalee Holloway was about to become a famous for all the wrong reasons.