The case surrounding the unsolved disappearance of American high school student Natalee Holloway took a dramatic turn Wednesday when her father announced that human remains had been found after an 18-month investigation.
Dave Holloway and private investigator T.J. Ward made the bombshell announcement on NBC’s “Today,” claiming that the human remains were uncovered in Aruba and are currently being DNA tested to determine if they belong to Natalee.
“When we determined these remains were human, I was shocked,” Holloway told co-hosts Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie. “I know there’s a possibility this could be someone else, and I’m just trying to wait and see.”
If the remains turn out to be Natalee’s, it would represent the largest development in a case that has captivated the public for over a decade.
18-year-old Natalee had joined her friends on a post-graduation trip to the island of Aruba in 2005 when she suddenly went missing. The subsequent investigation into her disappearance centered on Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national who was last seen with Natalee at a tourist bar.
Sure enough, it was information from a friend of Van der Sloot’s friend that led to the discovery of the remains.
“We’ve chased a lot of leads and this one is by far the most credible lead I’ve seen in the last 12 years,” Holloway said.
Whereas many investigators were convinced that Natalee’s remains were either hidden in a construction site or dumped into the ocean, the informant – identified only as Gabriel in an Oxygen documentary that is set to air on Saturday – claimed that Natalee was actually buried at an Aruban park. Gabriel also claimed that Natalee had been given a date rape drug that caused her to foam at the mouth and die shortly thereafter.
Holloway said that the DNA test will take several weeks to a month to conclusively determine whether they are Natalee’s remains.
“It would finally be the end,” he said.