Dutch to Send Jets to Find Missing Teen
ORANJESTAD, Aruba – Holland will send three F-16 warplanes (search) rigged with search equipment to find Natalee Holloway (search), Aruban authorities said Saturday, as U.S. lawmakers increased pressure on the Aruban government to do more to find the Alabama teenager nearly five weeks since she disappeared.
The three planes, equipped with infrared and sonar-scanning capacity, were expected to arrive Sunday afternoon, said Aruban government spokesman Ruben Trapenberg.
Trapenberg said the planes were being sent after Aruban Justice Minister Rudy Croes requested more help from Holland (search), the Dutch Caribbean island's former colonizer.
"Both the justice minister and the prime minister feel that Holland can help us reach a resolution with this," said Trapenberg.
This week both Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican from Alabama, and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, wrote letters to Aruban Prime Minister Nelson Oduber urging the government to do more and let the FBI play a larger role in the investigation.
"With every passing day, I become increasingly concerned that the current investigation has reached a dead end," Shelby wrote in a letter dated July 1. "It's unfathomable that the Aruban government would not take advantage of the full spectrum of resources, personnel and expertise of the FBI."
Seven FBI agents have had an observatory role on the island since a few days after Holloway disappeared on May 30, but have repeatedly said they don't have jurisdiction to direct the searches or investigation.
Trapenberg, the government spokesman, said calls for an increased FBI presence don't make sense. "It's fine to have the FBI here, but if you send in more agents are you saying the ones here are not any good?" he said.
The U.S. teen's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, said the U.S. pressure showed that family members aren't alone in their frustration with the pace of the investigation.
"It has become increasingly difficult to simply wait and see what happens," Holloway Twitty, a 44-year-old speech pathologist, said in an interview Saturday with The Associated Press.
The mother said the family was "graciously pleading" with the FBI and Holland to do more to find her daughter.
"It would be comforting for us if they were more active in this investigation," said Holloway Twitty. "We must demand and expect that Natalee be returned to her country."
Holloway, 18, from Mountain Brook, Ala., disappeared on the last of a five-day graduation trip with 124 classmates.
Island-wide searches — which have included Aruban police, the FBI, Dutch Marines, a rescue group from Texas and thousands of volunteers — have produced nothing.
Three men have been detained in the disappearance: Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot (search), 17, and his friends, Surinamese brothers Deepak Kalpoe (search), 21, and Satish Kalpoe (search), 18.
Trapenberg said Friday that the three young men have not been formally charged but could be as soon as Monday.
The three were the last ones seen with Holloway the night she disappeared. They were arrested June 9 and on Monday were expected to go before a judge who would decide whether to extend their detention an additional 60 days while prosecutors prepare their case.