BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Joran van der Sloot makes his way to Birmingham to face wire fraud and extortion charges against him, he will also likely face the mother of the 18-year-old girl whose death he is suspected of being involved in.
Van der Sloot, who remains the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Mountain Brook native Natalee Holloway in Aruba, is accused of scamming Holloway’s family out of thousands of dollars in exchange for information on her whereabouts. Ultimately, van der Sloot’s information was not credible and to this day, Holloway has never been found.
One likely guest in the courtroom during van der Sloot’s arraignment is Beth Holloway, mother of Natalee Holloway, whose tireless efforts to bring justice for her daughter the last 18 years have been recognized around the world.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of last month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years. She would be 36 years old now,” Holloway said in a statement regarding van der Sloot’s extradition from Peru to Alabama. “It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is paying off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
From the moment Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba in May 2005, Beth Holloway and her family became a constant presence on the island throughout the summer, doing everything they could to search for her and bring awareness to her case. Holloway, a former special needs teacher, was seen countless times on TV news at the time, giving interviews and raising awareness for her daughter.
Even when her former husband, Dave Holloway, requested that an Alabama judge declare Natalee Holloway legally dead in 2010, Beth Holloway opposed it, holding onto hope that her daughter was still alive.
“Beth gave birth to and raised Natalee, and will always hope and pray for Natalee’s safe return,” attorney John Q. Kelly said in a statement.
In her 2007 book, “Loving Natalee: A Mother’s Testament of Hope and Faith,” Holloway wrote about everything, from the moment she was told her daughter was missing to the longing of not knowing where she was.
Throughout the book, Holloway talked about how despite the odds, she continued to hold out hope for her daughter, as well as for justice, in addition to wanting to be an example for others to be strong.
“If the words that follow will help another parent, child, young adult, or traveler of any age stay safer, then it will have been well worth the writing of this book,” she wrote.
Through the tragedy of never knowing what happened to her daughter, Beth Holloway became a voice for families in similar situation who had loved ones go missing. Through her activism, Holloway found the Safe Travels Foundation, an organization dedicated to informing people of safe overseas travel. Although the group is no longer operating, Holloway has lent her voice to other causes on behalf of missing people.
Following the kidnapping of Homewood native Aniah Blanchard in Auburn back in November 2019, Holloway helped the Blanchards search for their daughter, getting them in touch with Texas Equusearch to help look for her. Blanchard’s body was eventually found in the woods in Shorter. Ibraheem Yazeed was subsequently arrested and charged in her murder.
Holloway, who regularly gets booked as a speaker, also founded the Natalee Holloway Resource Center at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, providing resources to families with missing loved ones.