Thursday, June 30, 2005

32 Days

For those of us who have been counting, it has been 32 long days since Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba. The 18-year-old honor student from Alabama was celebrating her high school graduation with 123 classmates and 7 supervisors. Natalee was out dancing and took off with several guys. She has not been seen since.

Because Aruba is a Dutch protectorate, it follows the laws of the Netherlands. They leave much to be desired. A person can be picked up by the police and taken into custody and held for up to 116 days without any charge being pressed against him or her. That's pretty appalling! So far, I think five or six different men have been detained including several boys who were with Natalee that night, and a high-ranking judge, who was the father of the boy that Natalee saw last.

17-year-old Joran van der Sloot has changed his version of events 8 separate times, according to Nancy Grace of CNN and Court TV. It looks like Natalee and Joran took off for the beach with two other young men. Joran is now saying that he left Natalee alone on the beach at two in the morning -- an unlikely event and not his original statement.

Joran's father, 53-year-old Paulus van der Sloot, was arrested on suspicion of complicity to commit murder and kidnapping, but he was released last week. Joran and two other men, 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe and his brother, 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe, remain in custody. However, very little progress seems to have been made in the investigation.

My heart goes out to Natalee's family, who seem so strong and brave. They are beyond frustrated with the slow pace of the search. Dutch law also dictates that certain details of the investigation cannot be disclosed; if that were to happen, the case might be thrown out in court.

Fortunately, the Prime Minister of Aruba has called in the Marines. We hate to think of a Laci Peterson scenario but certainly, the water should be scoured for any signs of the missing 18-year-old. For up-to-date information on the Holloway case, visit the Birmingham News at .

Sigrid Macdonald

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