More than six years after Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, an Alabama judge declared the missing student dead at the petition of her father.
Judge Alan King's decision comes a day after Joran van der Sloot, who was questioned in Holloway's disappearance, pleaded guilty to killing a Peruvian woman in 2010.
Holloway's divorced parents, David and Beth, were both present in the Birmingham courtroom when King made the announcement. David Holloway told the judge in September he believed his daughter was dead and wanted to stop making payments on her health insurance and use her $2,000 college fund to help her younger brother, the Associated Press reported. His lawyer argued there was no evidence that she was still alive.
We've been dealing with her death for the last six and a half years, David said of his daughter, who never returned from the Caribbean island when she was 18.
However, he added that We've still got a long way to go to get justice.
Beth Holloway objected to the decision at first, but her lawyer, Charlie DeBardeleben, said she eventually agreed.
Beth's position is she has no proof or indication that Natalee is still alive, but absent any proof or indication she is dead, she always wants to hang onto that slight glimmer of hope, said Holloway's attorney, John Q. Kelly, according to ABC News. No mother likes to, without evidence, have her daughter declared dead. She wants to carry her around in her heart.
Van der Sloot, a 24-year-old Dutchman, was arrested but never charged in Natalee's 2005 disappearance. He faces 30 years in prison for the murder of Stephany Flores, who was killed exactly five years to the day after Natalee went missing.