ORANJESTAD, Aruba – Another intriguing lead in the two-month old search for Natalee Holloway (search) came to nothing, as the FBI concluded that strands of blond hair stuck to duct tape did not come from the missing Alabama teenager.
The hair, which was found on July 17, was subjected to genetic testing at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., and the results showed they were not from the 18-year-old who has been missing since May 30, said spokeswoman Judy Orihuela.
"It wasn't Natalee's hair," Orihuela said.
A park ranger found the duct tape while collecting trash on Aruba's northeast coast — the opposite side of the island from where the Alabama woman was last seen in public.
"I was completely relieved" by the FBI results, said Beth Holloway Twitty (search), the teen's mother. "Everytime we exhaust something like this it's a possibility that Natalee is still alive."
A sample of the hair also was tested at a crime lab in the Netherlands, but the results have not been released.
Aruban government spokesman Ruben Trapenberg (search) said he doubted the Dutch results would differ from the FBI's findings. Aruba, a Dutch protectorate, doesn't have a lab to conduct the genetic testing.
"The hair was never something we considered significant but it needed to be checked out," Trapenberg said.
The news came as authorities in Aruba neared the end of an effort to drain a pond near a hotel and tennis club that has become a focus in the investigation. Holloway disappeared on the final night of a high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island.
Extensive searches by Dutch marines, Aruban police and some 2,000 volunteers have found no trace of her.
No one has been charged in the case and Joran van der Sloot (search), 17, is the only person detained as a suspect. Two Surinamese brothers, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, were previously held and released.
Crews expected to finish draining the pond on Friday, said Gabriel Kelly, a spokesman for the island's fire department, which was coordinating the effort.
"So far we haven't found anything out of the ordinary," Kelly said.
A lawyer for Holloway's mother and stepfather said the search was prompted by a witness who came forward last week and reported seeing van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers near the pond on the night of the teenager's disappearance.
The witness told investigators that he saw the Dutch youth and his friends driving near the pond on May 30 between 2:30 and 3 a.m. — a time they previously told investigators they were already home — said the attorney, Vinda de Sousa.
Authorities last week took DNA samples from van der Sloot and the two brothers, telling defense attorneys the DNA would be compared to undisclosed material found by investigators.
Holloway, from Mountain Brook, Ala., vanished after an evening at a nightclub that she left with the three young men, hours before she was to fly home at the end of a trip with 124 classmates.