SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A private investigator scouring a drained pond in Aruba for clues that could help solve the mystery of a missing U.S. teen is preparing to wrap up his latest search and report any findings, an official on the Dutch Caribbean island said Monday.
Ruben Croes, president of the Aruba Search and Rescue Foundation, which has helped look for Natalee Holloway off and on since she vanished in May 2005, said U.S. investigator Fred Golba will end his probe of the garbage-strewn retention pond on Tuesday and then depart the island.
A team of foundation volunteers, including Croes and his son, have helped the tracker dog specialist from Chicopee, Massachusetts, probe the muddy bottom of the 250-square-meter retention pond since last week. Aruban police have been observing Golba's search.
"We will all meet tomorrow and talk about what was found and what may be there of any interest to Fred," Croes said in a Monday evening phone interview. "I believe there has just been a lot of trash found, but we will see. I haven't been there since the weekend."
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.
Although the pond next to a popular soccer field in northwest Aruba has been searched before, the missing girl's father, Dave Holloway, hired Golba again because a witness last year alleged he saw the only remaining suspect, Joran van der Sloot, coming out of its brackish water with only one sneaker on after Natalee's disappearance.
Croes said Aruban volunteers have been helping Golba, who has searched for Holloway eight times before, with his latest search at the request of the Aruba Prosecutors' Office. He said it was done out of "courtesy" for the aching Holloway family.
"I can understand, of course, that when you lose someone like this that you want to keep looking," Croes said.
Dave Holloway could not immediately be reached at his home in Meridian, Mississippi.
Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for the Aruba Prosecutors' Office, has 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 (kilometer) away from where his daughter was last seen.
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.