ORANJESTAD, Aruba – A judge ruled Wednesday that authorities had enough evidence to hold two former security guards in connection with the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway (search) on the Caribbean island.
At least one of the suspects, 28-year-old Abraham Jones, appeared in court in Aruba Wednesday morning. The other was identified as 30-year-old Nick John.
Neither man has been charged with a crime, but both were being held on suspicion of murder and kidnapping.
"They have told me that according to police they fit the description of the last two people who were seen with Natalee," defense lawyer Chris Lejuez told FOX News.
Authorities may hold suspects John and Jones without filing formal charges for up to 116 days, lawyers said. The two men were arrested Sunday on the southwestern tip of Aruba in the May 30 disappearance of 18-year-old Holloway.
The two are Aruban citizens, though one is originally from Grenada, Lejuez said.
Judge J.S. Kuiperdal will review the case June 15 and every eight days after that if needed, officials said.
Both suspects have said they were nowhere near the blonde honors student's hotel on the Caribbean resort destination the night she vanished — so far without a trace. They deny any connection to Holloway.
Jones' mother told FOX News outside the courtroom that her son was at home sick the night in question. She also said she thought her son and the other man in custody were being framed.
Cynthia Rosalie Jones, 64, added that the only way her son knew about Holloway was from seeing the news on television.
"They have my son there for something he knows nothing about," Jones said emphatically. "My son is innocent."
Jones' wife, Cynthia De Graaf, said she and her husband were together continuously on May 29 and May 30, the day Holloway was last seen.
"He was home. He was even sick," De Graaf said, breaking down in tears as she waited outside the courthouse for the hearing to start. "They ruined everything. My daughter has been asking for her father."
Amidst Murder Investigation, No Solid Leads
Holloway was on a five-day graduation vacation with 100 classmates and seven chaperones when she disappeared. She was last seen at a local bar about 1:30 a.m. Memorial Day, getting into a car with three islanders she'd apparently befriended. All three were questioned by police last week and released.
Lejuez said Tuesday that his clients in custody were being investigated for murder and kidnapping. The specific charges they face are murder, conspiracy to commit murder and capital kidnapping, FOX News has learned.
"I haven't seen any proof she is not alive," Lejuez said Wednesday. "In my opinion, there is no evidence whatsoever that they are involved in the disappearance of Natalee."
The two men in custody were known to socialize with female tourists, according to police. It wasn't immediately clear whether they had any connection to the three men Holloway was seen with the night of her disappearance; authorities have declined to comment on a possible link.
The three, earlier described as students — two Surinamese and a native of the Netherlands — said they took Holloway to a beach and then dropped her off at her hotel later, around 2 a.m. on the 30th. Hotel employees, however, say security cameras did not record her return.
An official close to the case told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that one of the three men questioned and released last week is the son of a Dutch justice ministry official and has lived on the island for more than 10 years.
'It Gets More Frustrating Every Day'
Authorities have said they haven't ruled out accidental death, possibly by drowning. Divers with the FBI have been combing the waters around the island, according to authorities.
Holloway spent her last night at a beach concert and then eating and dancing at Carlos 'n Charlie's bar and restaurant, which has donated $5,000 of a reward for information on Holloway.
The Aruba government and local tourism organizations have offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to her rescue. Family and benefactors in Alabama have offered $30,000.
The search for the teen began shortly after she failed to show up for her flight home the next morning. Police found her passport in her hotel room with her packed bags.
It was not clear if Holloway had been drinking the night of her disappearance. Relatives say she does not party much and is an achievement-oriented, straight-A student who had a full scholarship to a premedical program at the University of Alabama.
Relatives still hoped that Holloway would turn up safe. An aunt told reporters Wednesday that Holloway's mother was staying optimistic.
"She really keeps her hope alive and that’s what keeps us all going," said Marcia Twitty in a news conference at Mountain Brook Community Church in Birmingham, Ala.
A massive search involving more than 700 volunteers on southeastern Aruba yielded no leads earlier this week.
"It gets more frustrating every day ... it's a nightmare," Holloway's stepfather, Jug Twitty, told FOX News from Aruba on Wednesday. "I hope no other parent ever has to experience this."
While Jug Twitty said the people of Aruba have been "wonderful" and helpful in the search, the process is "frustrating when you have an island that's 19 miles long, six miles wide and you can't find her. It's just like she's vanished, disappeared, which is very difficult.
"It does leave me hope that she's still alive," Mr. Twitty said. "Nobody has found any evidence here and we've had people searching the island. Under the circumstance, it's unbelievable the response we've had down here."
The parents said they had not received any request for ransom or any other evidence that she had been kidnapped in the Dutch Caribbean territory. In an interview with The Associated Press, they thanked the people of Aruba for helping in the search.
"The support is phenomenal," said her mother, Beth Holloway Twitty (search).
Suspects Known on Aruba
The two men in custody were former security guards for a hotel two blocks from the Holiday Inn where Holloway was staying. Their work contracts expired the day before she disappeared, a police officer told The Associated Press.
The men were known to police and islanders because they had a habit of going around to hotels trying to pick up women (often tourists) or bum cigarettes, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. No complaints had been filed against them.
One of the suspects had a brush with the law, but it was not a violent or sexual offense, the officer said without elaborating. Defense lawyer Lejuez said one of the men was arrested several years ago for a fight, but was released a few days later.
Holloway's disappearance has upset Arubans, who take pride in the island's reputation for friendliness and safety.
Tourism accounts for 70 percent of the economy in the territory of 97,000 people, with 73 percent of visitors coming from the United States. Many American tourists have volunteered to help in the search.
FOX News' Jonathan Serrie, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.