Skip to main content

Texas team begins search for teen in Aruba


Texas team to aid search
• Publicity a concern for tourism
Was race a factor in arrests?
• Interactive: Safety tips for travelers


Crime, Law and Justice

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A team of Texas search specialists began a full-fledged hunt Saturday for Alabama teen Natalee Holloway.

Tim Miller, director and founder of Texas EquuSearch, said most of the 24-member search team, including eight divers and a dog, had arrived by Friday night. Three more dogs and their handlers were to arrive Saturday.

"I feel very, very optimistic that we are going to take Natalee back to Alabama where she belongs," Miller said.

The team searched a wetlands area and also the northern tip of the island near its landmark lighthouse, combing the beaches with the dog. After borrowing a boat, the team installed side-scanning sonar equipment and conducted a water search.

The dogs, considered highly trained, wear booties to protect their paws from cactus needles. At least $25,000 has been contributed for the search so far through the nonprofit group's Web site, Miller said.

The Texas team joined Aruba investigators and the FBI in the widespread, round-the-clock search.

The 18-year-old has been missing since early May 30.

Meanwhile, five suspects in her disappearance -- including a father and son -- are scheduled to appear before a judge on Sunday, after a one-day postponement.

Paul Van Der Sloot, 53, a local judge; his son Joran, 17; Satish Kalpoe, 18; his brother Deepak Kalpoe, 21; and disc jockey Steve Croes, 26, are in custody.

A judge from Curacao will determine whether to hold them longer, said Police Commissioner Jan Van Der Straten. The judge is being flown in from another island to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and his flight was delayed several times Saturday, forcing the hearing to be rescheduled.

No one has been formally charged in the case.

Prosecution spokeswoman Mariaine Croes told CNN charges will not be filed until the investigation is complete and evidence is reviewed by prosecutors.

Defense attorneys for the four younger defendants have said they are innocent; Paul Van Der Sloot's attorneys have not yet commented.

Van Der Straten would not say if Van Der Sloot, relatively new to the bench, was being cooperative. He was arrested Thursday after being interviewed as a witness. (Full story)

Holloway, from the affluent Birmingham, Alabama, suburb of Mountain Brook, was last seen leaving a nightclub with Joran Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers. She was on a trip to Aruba with about 100 classmates and a few parent chaperones to celebrate the students' high school graduations.

The Kalpoe brothers and Joran Van Der Sloot initially told prosecutors they dropped Holloway off at her hotel. But police have said that story fell apart under questioning, and there has been no evidence to show Holloway ever returned to the hotel.

The Kalpoes' mother said Thursday one of her sons had admitted lying to protect Joran Van Der Sloot, and said he and his brother took the youth and Holloway to a beach and dropped them off.

Anita Van Der Sloot, the mother of Joran Van Der Sloot and wife of Paul Van Der Sloot, said her son had also changed his story and admitted being alone with Holloway on the beach, saying he left her there because she wanted to stay there.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann and Alex Quade contributed to this report.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.

© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines