SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The father of an American teen who vanished nearly four years ago in Aruba said Sunday that a private investigator will scour a retention pond for answers that have eluded the family throughout numerous false leads and fruitless searches.
Dave Holloway said tracker dog specialist Fred Golba, from Chicopee, Massachusetts, will begin his latest search for evidence into Natalee Holloway's May 2005 disappearance early Monday. He said the tracker, who has searched for her eight times before, must be accompanied to the pond by Aruban police escorts, who delayed an anticipated weekend search.
Natalee Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Alabama, was 18 when she was last seen leaving a bar in the Aruban capital on the final night of a high school graduation trip. No trace of her has been found despite extensive searches involving hundreds of volunteers, Aruban soldiers, FBI agents and even Dutch F-16 jets with special equipment.
But Dave Holloway said a witness last year alleged that he saw the only remaining suspect, Joran van der Sloot, coming out of the brackish pond in northwest Aruba with only one sneaker on after Natalee's disappearance. He said the witness has passed a polygraph test.
"I've been looking for (nearly) four years and I intend to search all the evidence and every lead," said Holloway, speaking to The Associated Press from his home in Meridian, Mississippi. "(The witness) saw what he saw — or he believed he saw what he saw."
Sections of the remote pond area have been searched previously and no evidence was ever found.
Holloway said he had been waiting for the retention pond to dry up before commissioning this latest search, "but the weather has not been cooperative."
Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the Aruba Prosecutors' Office, said neither police nor prosecutors have any new information in the case, but they gave Dave Holloway permission to search the pond, which is about a mile away from where she was last seen.
Before he left for Aruba on Friday, Golba told Fox 25 television in Boston that he planned to stick his hands into the pond's muddy bottom and feel around for "bones and his sneaker" while his tracking dog searches the marshy scrubland.
"I have more confidence in this pond then anything I have done in eight trips to this island," Golba told the TV station.
In early January, Chief Prosecutor Hans Mos said his office was "approaching the end of this lengthy investigation" and appealed to the public for help.