Today's culture is thoroughly obsessed with stories of true crime. Some of these cases are so profoundly disturbing that they continue to confound and fascinate the public even decades after they first happened. A prime example is the notorious disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in 2005. Her grief-stricken parents and official investigators have strived to find answers for almost 20 years. Over all that time, the field of suspects slowly narrowed to one likely suspect. And now, finally, a shocking confession has put the case to rest.
Before Natalee went missing
Natalee Holloway disappeared in the spring of 2005. At the time, Natalee was, according to those who knew her, a friendly and outgoing honors student. She enjoyed performing on her school's dance team and attended church regularly. She was, then, just like any other teenage girl about to graduate And she had no way of knowing that she would soon make international headlines.
A fateful trip to Aruba
To celebrate her impending graduation from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Alabama, Natalee and a hundred of her classmates signed up for a special trip to Aruba, located in the Caribbean Sea. It was naturally all the students could think about as the school year wound down. However, the trip would end up being memorable for truly dark reasons.
It was a chance for students to let loose
Claire Fierman had known Natalee since junior high and described the daily routine on the Aruba trip. "We were on the beach," she told NBC News in 2008. "We stayed outside all day. You'd usually take a nap, get dressed, go eat dinner, and then go to one of the bars. Come home whenever you wanted to." It was, in short, exactly the kind of trip a hard-working student deserved.
Her family was worried from the start
Yet even though Natalee had already traveled to Europe and Canada, her father, Dave, confessed that he had reservations about Aruba. "I told her flat out she was not going to Aruba if I had anything to do with it," he told NBC News. Her uncle Paul Reynolds said, "Natalee's naive. She hasn't dated a lot. She doesn’t party a lot." Even Natalee apparently worried about a nightspot in Aruba called Carlos 'n Charlie's.