Heather Beyer

Students relate to Holloway’s disappearance

Natalee Holloway,18, traveled to Aruba with a group of 125 classmates for their senior trip. The teen has been missing since May 30. She was last seen getting into a vehicle, leaving a bar called Carlos ‘N Charlie’s in the town of Oranjestad.

Later, Holloway’s parents flew to Aruba to search for their daughter only to find all her belongings in her hotel room packed for the journey home. Her passport and her remaining cash were already packed away in her purse.

“Every time I see her mom on TV, I cry,” said senior history major Terri Stumphf. “I can’t even watch it.”

There is an island-wide search for Holloway. Aruba, with a population of more than 90,000, measures 75 square miles and is known to have a low crime rate. Two murders and three rapes were reported on the island this year. Last year, one murder and six rapes were reported, according to CNN’s Web site.

Holloway’s family posted a $50,000 reward for any information on Holloway’s whereabouts. The missing teen’s family was able to offer the reward from donations from Aruba’s government, local tourist agencies and their own personal contributions.

Holloway is described as being 5-foot 4-inches tall and 110 pound with long blonde hair and blue eyes. She received a 4.0 grade point average and planned to attend the University of Alabama on a full academic scholarship in the fall.

There have been conflicting reports of Holloway’s fate. In the early morning hours on Saturday, a police chief announced that one of the suspects made a confession to police that “something bad” happened to Holloway. He also stated that he would lead authorities to the body. That statement was recanted later the same day by the attorney general.

Rumors of the girl’s demise have floated around the island. The Holloway family claims that no body has been recovered, but that they still have high hopes that Natalee is alive.

“It’s highly likely that we are not getting the whole story here,” said Korea Frazie, an Ohio Northern creative writing student.

The disappearance of the Alabama teen has travelers a bit skeptical.

“People have to be more cautious with their children,” said Tallmadge High School graduate Kelly Rogers. “In the past five years, there have been so many cases like this.”

Michelle Luscre, a student at Roosevelt High School, e-mailed the following advice to this year’s graduates, “Retain your common sense, despite how much fun something sounds. Don’t do things, like getting into random cars, that go against common sense.”

“Be careful! You never know what is going to happen. When you travel anywhere, it is critical that you protect yourself, and don’t make bad decisions. Be safe and make sure you go places with other friends at all times,” said Frazier.

Luscre said that Holloway’s story reaffirms the old don’t get in cars with strangers adage. It’s also another example of warning that people aren’t all as safe as they may think.

“I don’t let myself get too worried about it. I do things to be as safe as I can, but I don’t constantly fret,” she said.

The town of Mountain Brook, Alabama still has high hopes that Holloway will return home. The town has yellow ribbons attached to everything from mailboxes to automatic bank machines in support of Holloway.

This disappearance has shaken Aruba’s sense of security that used to be taken for granted.

“I think if it happens once it happens too often,” Rogers said.

Contact general assignment reporter Heather Beyer at [email protected].