updated 6/6/2005 11:35:00 AM ET 2005-06-06T15:35:00

Already a world traveler at 18, Natalee Holloway was nothing if not careful and dependable, relatives say. That’s why friends knew something was wrong the instant she failed to show up for the flight home to Alabama after a senior trip to Aruba.

“Natalee being late is a tipoff,” aunt Marcia Twitty said Saturday.

Now Holloway — with sparkling eyes, long blond hair and a heart for service — is the focus of an all-out search in an island paradise just off the coast of Venezuela.

FBI agents have joined with authorities and volunteers in Aruba in the hunt for Holloway, who planned to attend the University of Alabama on a full academic scholarship this fall and talked of joining a sorority.

Vigils held in hometown
Back home, dozens of Holloway’s friends and classmates attended an afternoon prayer vigil Saturday. Stores are selling out of yellow ribbon as residents put bows on trees, mailboxes and doors all over Mountain Brook.

“The entire community is very concerned and very much in prayer,” said longtime city manager Sam Gaston.

Two men were charged Sunday in connection with the disappearance and authorities on the Dutch Caribbean island also requested a special diving team from the FBI because of rough currents in some areas, said the island’s attorney general, Caren Janssen.

The men — ages 28 and 30 — were arrested Sunday morning at two separate homes in the southeastern community of San Nicolas, Janssen said at a news conference in the capital.

Janssen declined to provide specific charges, saying the case will go before a judge within 48 hours to determine whether the men can be legally held. She said authorities had not found any of Holloway’s belongings at the suspects’ homes.

Holloway was known as a top student and tireless worker at Mountain Brook High School, where she graduated last month before leaving for Aruba with 124 other seniors. Twitty said seven adults went along as chaperones.

Holloway was in the National Honor Society, studied Spanish and was a member of American Field Service, which works with foreign exchange students. Her participation may have been a reflection of her travels, which Twitty said included trips to Europe, Canada and some cruises.

She was a member of the student government and sweated through long hours of practice as a member of the school dance team. But Holloway wasn’t just about glitz: she also joined Natural Helpers, a peer support group, and other volunteer organizations.

‘Natalee’s naive,’ her uncle says
For all her activities and achievements, relatives described Holloway as having an almost childlike side, too.

“Natalee’s naive. She hasn’t dated a lot. She doesn’t party a lot,” said uncle Paul Reynolds. Holloway attends church regularly and wouldn’t ever run away, he said.

In the Mountain Brook yearbook, Holloway’s senior quote came from the old Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Freebird.” It says: “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now, there’s too many places I haven’t seen.”

For now, relatives just want Holloway back in Alabama.

“We’re going to bring Natalee home,” said her aunt, wearing a brightly colored yard bracelet made by Holloway’s friends as a sign of support. Some of the bracelets are being shipped to Aruba for volunteers and authorities there to wear, she said.

At least 70 people showed up for a prayer vigil Sunday evening at a lighthouse on Aruba’s gusty northwest point, singing a hymn and listening to a brief sermon by the Rev. Larry Waymire, an American who has lived in Aruba for six years.

“This is a trying time, not only for Aruba but for the world as a whole,” Waymire, originally of Lexington, Tenn., said during the 10-minute ceremony. “This has touched the lives of millions of people around the world.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments