Natalee Holloway Vanished While On Vacation In 2005, And She's Still Missing To This Day

Natalee Holloway had just graduated high school when she went on a five-day trip to Aruba with a group of fellow seniors in 2005. She was described as a gifted student who planned on studying to become a doctor at the University of Alabama, where she had already been accepted with a scholarship. Holloway's bright future came to a halt in the early hours of May 30, 2005, when friends saw her get into a car and drive off, never to be seen again.

The disappearance of Natalee Holloway quickly became the best-known missing person case of the 21st century, and it's still being scrutinized after years of investigations, documentaries, and dramatizations of her life. While it remains to be seen if Holloway's complex and tragic case will ever be solved, the facts laid out below show there's still a great deal left to be uncovered.


  • Natalee Holloway Disappeared On A Graduation Trip To Aruba In 2005
    Photo: FBI / Fair Use

    Natalee Holloway Disappeared On A Graduation Trip To Aruba In 2005

    Natalee Holloway arrived in Aruba on May 26, 2005, along with a group of fellow students who had all recently graduated from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, AL. Holloway's parents, Beth and Dave, had initially been wary of her going on the trip, but she was eventually allowed to attend. The group of 124 students and seven chaperones planned to spend five days in Aruba, and friends of Holloway recall spending days on the beach, dressing up for dinner, and then exploring the clubs and nightlife.

    On their last night in Aruba, some of the teens went down to their hotel's casino, where they reportedly spoke with a man named Joran van der Sloot who introduced himself as a 19-year-old tourist from Holland. Van der Sloot would reappear later in the evening and subsequently become a prime suspect in Holloway's disappearance.

  • Holloway Was Last Seen Outside A Nightclub With Three Men

    After spending some time at the hotel casino, Holloway went with a group of students to Carlos'n Charlie's, a club in Oranjestad, Aruba. When the club closed at 1 am, some students headed back to the hotel, but Holloway reportedly went with a different group of students to another bar.

    A half-hour later, around 1:30 am, Holloway was seen getting into a silver Honda with three men. These men would later be identified as van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. This was the last official sighting of Holloway.

  • The Governor Of Alabama, The FBI, And The Dutch Army Got Involved In The Case

    From the start, Holloway's parents, Beth and Dave, believed something terrible had happened to their daughter. Within 12 hours of receiving the initial call that Holloway was missing, Beth had gotten in touch with the FBI and had arrived in Aruba via private jet to search for her daughter.

    In addition to the FBI's involvement, the Dutch military deployed both its air force and marines to search for Holloway. When their investigation came up short, Alabama governor Bob Riley called for a boycott of US travel to Aruba with the support of the Holloway family, but no formal boycott ever occurred.

  • Suspects Were Apprehended Multiple Times But Always Released

    Micky John and Abraham Jones were taken into custody in June 2005 under suspicion of kidnapping and taking the life of Holloway. The men were security guards working at a hotel near where Holloway had been staying. They were subsequently released on June 13.

    Authorities then detained Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers on June 9, but all three were released without being charged. The three men would again be detained in connection to Holloway's disappearance in November 2007, only to be released for a second time. Van der Sloot would be questioned again in 2008 when hidden camera footage revealed him talking about Holloway's demise, but nothing came from the questioning.

  • Suspect Joran van der Sloot Was Later Convicted Of A Different Murder
    Video: YouTube

    Suspect Joran van der Sloot Was Later Convicted Of A Different Murder

    On May 30, 2010, exactly five years after Holloway was last seen, Joran van der Sloot killed 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores in a Lima, Peru, hotel room. Van der Sloot attempted to evade authorities by fleeing to Chile but was captured and brought back to Peru to stand trial.

    Van der Sloot eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 28 years in a Peruvian prison. At the time of his sentencing, van der Sloot told the court, "I truly am sorry for this act. I feel very bad."

    In 2014, authorities decided that when van der Sloot finishes his prison sentence in Peru, he will be extradited to the United States to face charges related to Holloway's disappearance. According to journalist Greta Van Susteren, who interviewed van der Sloot, he is "terrified" of being placed in a US prison.

  • Van der Sloot Also Extorted The Holloway Family That Same Year

    In addition to being charged for his role in Flores's fate, van der Sloot was charged with wire fraud and extortion by the US district court of Alabama. The court reported that van der Sloot had attempted to extort Beth Holloway for $250,000 in exchange for information regarding the location of Holloway's remains.

    When confronted about the charges, van der Sloot told reporters, "I wanted to get back at Natalee's family - her parents have been making my life tough for five years." The Holloways had gone as far as to wire $15,000 to his bank.