Mother of teen who vanished in Aruba to speak

Waterford - Beth Holloway, the mother of Natalee Holloway, the 18-year-old woman from Alabama who went missing in Aruba in May 2005, is expected to impart a message of hope, faith and personal safety when she speaks today at Waterford High School.

Waterford Youth Services, which books one or two inspirational speakers a year to address young people and others in the region, is sponsoring the 7 p.m. talk.

"We usually have an athlete or something like that," Youth Services Director Dani Gorman said. "But we thought Beth Holloway would be something different."

Gorman said she saw Holloway speak at a gathering of law enforcement officials and thought she would be good to bring to Waterford.

"(Holloway) speaks frequently to police and to kids about her daughter's story and the lessons she learned," Gorman said. "She's a fighter."

The Natalee Holloway case, which became a staple of cable news programs in the summer of 2005, is unresolved.

On May 30, 2005, six days after she graduated from high school, Holloway did not return home after a vacation with friends and was reported missing.

She was reportedly last seen outside a restaurant in Oranjestad, the Aruban capital. The main suspect, Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch national, was arrested and then released during the investigation. Van der Sloot has since been charged with the murder of a female university student in Lima, Peru.

In response to her daughter's disappearance, Holloway founded International Safe Travels Foundation, which works to raise awareness about overseas travel and laws.

Kathy Drenga of Preston, a former member of Scared Monkeys, a group that helps to raise awareness of missing persons cases, said Holloway often talks to young people and parents about legal systems in foreign countries.

"Things are not handled in the same way as they are in the United States," Drenga said.

The talk, which is open to people around the region, is free, but those attending must have a ticket.

Call Waterford Youth Services at (860) 444-5848 for ticket information.


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