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Natalee Holloway declared legally dead at father's request

January 12, 2012 |  1:38 pm

Natalee_HollowayNatalee Holloway's father has had his request granted: An Alabama probate judge Thursday signed paperwork formally declaring that his daughter is dead.

It was a pyrrhic victory for David Holloway. He obviously wants nothing more than for his daughter to be alive. But it's been more than six years since Natalee, then 18, disappeared after she was seen leaving a nightclub with three men in Aruba on May 30, 2005.

The high school senior from Mountain Brook, Ala., was visiting the picturesque Carribean island as part of a school trip to celebrate high school graduation. She was never heard from again.

The formal declaration was needed to allow David Holloway the power to administer his daughter's estate, including gaining access to funds that were set aside for her college tuition. That money, he told, will now go to Natalee's brother.

The declaration comes the same week that one of the key suspects in Natalee Holloway's death -- Dutch national Joran Van der Sloot -- was in court facing charges he killed another young woman.

The  beating death of Stephany Flores, 21, took place precisely five years to the day -- May 30, 2010 -- that Holloway was last seen. The death occurred inside a Lima, Peru, hotel room registered in Van der Sloot's name. He pleaded guilty to the killing earlier this week, and faces sentencing Friday.

The declaration of death might help the Holloway family move forward in some respects, but it does little to help them reconcile the torturous legal odyssey that failed to come up with enough evidence to charge Van der Sloot with Natalee's death. Over the years, Van der Sloot has told both law enforcement and the media a variety of stories about what happened the night Natalie Holloway disappeared, including that he sold her into sexual slavery.

U.S. authorities have no ability to charge Van der Sloot in connection with the overseas disappearance of Natalee Holloway. However, they said this week they still plan to pursue federal charges against him for allegedly trying to extort Natalee's mother, Beth, out of $250,000 in exchange for details about what happened to her daughter.


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-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Natalee Holloway. Credit: Associated Press