JUNE 3, 2005 - Posted at 7:53 a.m. CDT, updated at 11:49 a.m.
ARUBA - Police in helicopters and all-terrain vehicles searched outlying areas of the Caribbean island of Aruba for a missing Alabama high school girl with strong Craighead County ties Thursday, while hundreds of local residents and tourists joined the hunt by posting flyers across the island.
Natalee Holloway, 18, was last seen Monday on the island. She lives in Alabama, but has several family members in the Jonesboro and Bono area. Her father is Dave Holloway, a native of Bono. She is also the niece of former Arkansas State women's basketball standout Linda Holloway Allison, and Jonesboro firefighter Steve Holloway.
Natalee Holloway's family asked Aruba radio and television stations to broadcast a reward offer. The family promised to reward anyone who brings the missing teenager safely to a police station or hospital.
Natalee Holloway was among 125 seniors from Mountain Brook High School near Birmingham, Alabama, on a five-day field trip to the Dutch Caribbean island.
FBI officials, Aruba police and Dutch authorities have been searching for her since Monday, when she did not show up for her group's return flight. Several family members traveled to Aruba to help in the search. The girl was last seen by friends getting into a vehicle and leaving a nightclub in the island capital of Oranjestad before dawn Monday.
"This whole thing has just been a slow agony," her uncle Steve Holloway told K8 News this morning. "We are getting a lot of inconsistencies in what happened as far as her disappearance," Holloway said.
Police questioned and released three Aruban men who said they dropped Holloway off early Monday at a Holliday Inn, where she had been staying about three miles from the capital of Oranjestad. A police inspector said the men are not considered suspects. "We don't have any indication as to if she is alive. The whole population is aware that she is missing. The police are doing everything to find her," said inspector Jules Sambo.
Police have used helicopters, ATVs and patrol cars to comb an area on the island's northwestern tip with a rugged terrain of sand dunes, craters and beaches. The area is near the hotel where she was staying.
"We're really getting a lot prayers from people and churches all over the country," said Steve Holloway. "We really appreciate the whole country, and we really hope that God will answer our prayers," he added.
Aruba, with a population of approximately 72,000, is off the north coast of Venezuela and is part of the Netherlands Antilles.