High school graduate Natalee Holloway had everything going for her. She was intelligent, popular and had been awarded a scholarship to study towards a career as a paediatrician. Sadly, whilst on a post-graduation celebratory trip to Aruba with classmates, she went missing.

Natalee Holloway was born on 21 October 1986 in Mississippi and grew up in the close-knit community of Mountain Brook, a suburb in Alabama. She was a well-liked and popular classmate and achieved high grades as an ambitious and intelligent student, graduating with honours from Mountain Brook High School in May 2005. At high school Holloway had taken part in several of the extra-curricular clubs such as the dance team and a volunteer club which interacted with foreign exchange students. She had also received a scholarship to the University of Alabama and had planned to study for a pre-med degree, to qualify for a career as a paediatrician. On 26 May 2005, Holloway and 124 graduates from the Mountain Brook High School arrived in Aruba for an end of term celebratory five-day trip. Holloway had only graduated two days beforehand and she and fellow students were looking forward to letting their hair down after their exams. Due to the amount of people on the trip, the students enjoyed relative freedom but they had been accompanied by seven chaperones to ensure that their welfare was monitored from a distance. Celebration was the by-word of the holiday and the Mountain Brook pupils accordingly revelled in “wild partying and drinking” according to reports. On 29th May Holloway was last seen by her classmates leaving the Carlos 'n Charlie's nightclub at around 1.30 am with Dutch student Joran van der Sloot and his two Surinamese friends, Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18. The next day, the students left on their way to the airport to fly back home to Alabama but Holloway did not show up for the return flight. Her packed luggage and passport were found in her Holiday Inn hotel bedroom but there was no sign of her. The Aruban authorities were immediately called and soon a missing persons search had begun to try and find the teenager. Following the news that her daughter had seemed to have vanished, her mother Beth and stepfather George 'Jug' Twitty flew straight to Aruba and within four hours presented the police with the name and address of van der Sloot, after quizzing Holloway's friends and the night manager of the Holiday Inn. Hundreds of people volunteered to help search for Holloway, working alongside the FBI and fifty Dutch soldiers. Divers searched the sea floor and on 2 June 2005 Holloway's family issued an undisclosed reward for any information which may lead to her safe return. The Aruban government and local tourism companies also contributed to the reward money. Reports indicate that Holloway failed to appear on any security camera footage from her hotel's lobby during the course of the night. However, according to initial head of the police investigation, Commissioner Jan van der Straten, she did not have to go via the lobby to return to her room, so it would have proved little help in discovering what may have happened to her. The American law enforcement were heavily involved in the investigation from the beginning, co-operating with the Aruban authorities in extensive searches including a local landfill and a pond near the beach where it was claimed Holloway had last be seen by van der Sloot. The Netherlands even deployed aircraft with infrared sensors to compare satellite photographs taken before Holloway's disappearance but all proved fruitless.