Van der Sloot plea may lead Judge to declare Natalee Holloway dead

Van der Sloot accepted the Peruvian murder charges against him, Wednesday, which may allow a Judge in Alabama to declare Natalee Holloway dead based on the adjudication of Van der Sloot, the only suspect in her killing.

Pilar Olivares/Reuters
Joran Van der Sloot's trial is shown in the Lurigancho prison in Lima Wednesday. Van der Sloot was arrested but never charged in the 2005 disappearance of 18-year-old Alabama native Natalee Holloway. Now that he is an adjudicated killer, Holloway's father is seeking that she be officially declared dead.

A judge holds a hearing Thursday on whether to sign a court order declaring Natalee Holloway dead more than six years after she disappeared in Aruba. The hearing comes one day after a suspect questioned in her disappearance, Joran van der Sloot, pleaded guilty to killing a woman in Peru.

Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King is hearing a request by Natalee Holloway's father to have her declared dead. Her mother originally objected, but will not contest a ruling Thursday, her attorney said.

King ruled in September that Dave Holloway had met the legal presumption of death for his daughter and it was up to someone to prove she didn't die on a high school graduation trip. He set the hearing for Thursday to allow time for anyone to come forward.

The father's attorney, Mark White, said no new evidence has emerged, and he will ask the judge to rule her dead.

"We intend to point out the fact that the person who we believe is responsible for this tragedy is now an adjudicated killer," White said Wednesday.

Van der Sloot, 24, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old woman he met at a Lima casino. Stephany Flores was killed five years to the day after Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old from the wealthy Birmingham suburb of Mountain Brook, disappeared. She was last seen leaving a bar withvan der Sloot.

Shortly after Flores' death on May 30, 2010, van der Sloot told police he killed the woman in Peru in a fit of rage after she discovered on his laptop his connection to the disappearance of Holloway. Police forensic experts disputed the claim.

Attorneys for the Holloway family said both of Natalee Holloway's parents plan to be in the Birmingham courtroom on Thursday.

Beth Holloway's attorney, John Q. Kelly, said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Flores family during these extraordinarily painful and public proceedings. We hope they find some measure of privacy, inner strength and peace as time goes by."

Kelly said that once van der Sloot is sentenced on Friday, he expect U.S. authorities to try to bring him to Alabama to face pending federal charges accusing him of extorting $25,000 from Beth Holloway to reveal the location of her body daughter's body in Aruba. Kelly went to Aruba for the revelation, but van der Sloot did not deliver.

Natalee Holloway's parents were divorced in 1993. She was raised by her mother in Mountain Brook, but spent every other weekend with her father, an insurance agent in Meridian, Miss.

At a court hearing in September, Beth Holloway sent a lawyer to oppose her husband's efforts to have their daughter declared dead.

The attorney, Charlie DeBardelaben, said Wednesday evening she no longer objects and she understands the reasons her ex-husband wants a ruling. "She is ready to put an end to this chapter," he said.

At that court hearing, Dave Holloway's attorney said a court order declaring her dead would allow her father to use her $2,000 college fund for her younger brother and allow the father to stop paying hospital insurance for her.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.