UPDATE: An Alabama judge announced Thursday that he will declare missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway to be dead.
(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) — The search for missing teen Natalee Holloway could officially end Thursday when an Alabama judge is expected to declare her dead.
A court hearing in Birmingham will determine whether Holloway, who has not been seen or heard from since she disappeared on an Aruban beach in 2005, is officially considered dead in the eyes of the law. Dave Holloway, the teen’s father, claimed in the court papers that because there is no evidence Natalee is alive and that the time has come to declare her legally dead.
Natalee’s mother, however, opposes the court proceeding.
“Beth’s position is she has no proof or indication that Natalee is still alive, but absent any proof or indication that she is dead, she always wants to hang onto that slight glimmer of hope,” said Beth Holloway’s attorney, John Q. Kelly. “No mother likes to, without evidence, have her daughter declared dead. She wants to carry around her around in her heart.”
Kelly noted that the hearing Thursday is likely a foregone conclusion, as the judge will ask to see any evidence that Natalee is still alive and, absent any, will declare her dead. She will either be declared dead Thursday or after another formal waiting period, he said.
Neither he nor Holloway would attend the hearing, he said.
Beth Holloway, who is now divorced from the girl’s father, recently called Dave’s actions “inexplicable” and said she was taken by surprise when she found out Dave had filed the petition in Birmingham court.
The court hearing comes a day after court proceedings in Peru where the main suspect in Holloway’s disappearance, Joran van der Sloot, pleaded guilty to murdering a different woman. Van der Sloot entered the plea Wednesday and is awaiting sentencing by the Peruvian court. He has admitted to killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores, a Peruvian businesswoman, on May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Natalee’s disappearance.
Van der Sloot, a Dutch citizen, was never formally charged with Holloway’s death in Aruba, but was arrested and held for questioning in the matter twice.
Natalee Holloway was on the last day of a graduation trip to Aruba with her senior class at Mountain Brook High School in Alabama when she did not return to her hotel. She was last seen in a car with several people, including Van Der Sloot.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Erin McClam, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Eli Watkins, CNN