Relatives of Natalee Holloway marked the first anniversary of her disappearance quietly Tuesday, still searching for answers about what happened to the Alabama teenager who mysteriously vanished during a high school graduation trip to Aruba.
Her father, Dave Holloway, worked at his insurance agency in Meridian, Miss., catching up on claims after a holiday weekend, while her mother, Beth Twitty, spent the day in Montreal, working on the Web site of her new organization to promote safe travel.
“I thought that would be the best way for me to do it,” she said in a telephone interview. “It’s just something that I felt ... would be a good way to honor Natalee.”
There were no public remembrances or ceremonies marking the anniversary in Holloway’s hometown of Mountain Brook, a well-to-do Birmingham suburb.
“It’s at Beth’s request,” said family spokeswoman Sunny Tillman.
Twitty began the International Safe Travels Foundation and often speaks to high school groups about the hazards of world travel. Holloway co-wrote a book about the search for Natalee, who was 18 when she was last seen.
The teen’s fellow travelers and friends from Mountain Brook High School have moved on to college without Holloway, who would be finishing her first year at the University of Alabama had everything gone as planned.
Aruba ‘wants to forget’
Victor Winklaar, owner and managing director of the Papiamento-language AWEMainta newspaper on Aruba, said the island has been hurt by calls for a U.S. boycott since the teen’s disappearance.
“The community wants to forget this case,” Winklaar said.
Holloway was an honors student at Mountain Brook, where she graduated before leaving for Aruba, a Dutch protectorate, with 124 other seniors. Seven adults went along in case of any problems.
The first sign of trouble occurred the morning of May 30, 2005, when the graduates gathered in a hotel lobby before heading to the airport for the trip back to Alabama. Holloway, who had been to a popular bar the night before with friends, was nowhere to be found.
Authorities investigating Holloway’s disappearance have arrested nine people, but all were released for lack of evidence. Repeated searches of Aruba and the waters around the island have failed to turn up any trace of the missing teen.
Twitty said getting through the past year was tough.
“You just have to rely on your faith, and we do feel as if eventually it will come out as to what happened to Natalee,” she said. “I just have to have that belief.”