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Natalee Holloway Center opens

Five years have passed since Natalee Holloway became one of the nation's most publicized missing persons, vanishing on the Caribbean island of Aruba during a trip with classmates from her Alabama high school. On Tuesday, her mother was in Washington for the opening of a resource center for families going through the same kind of grief and confusion that she has endured.

"I know what it's like to have a child go missing," Beth Holloway told reporters at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, which will run the Natalee Holloway Resource Center as a public service. The museum, at 575 Seventh St. NW, is a for-profit enterprise.

Listing several other well-publicized missing persons, Holloway said, “These families, like mine, have all experienced the unimaginable tragedy.” Besides offering safety awareness programs and information for young people, the center will help families with missing loved ones coordinate search efforts and deal with police, the news media and others.

“When Natalee went missing in May of 2005,” Holloway said, “we desperately needed contact information, law enforcement information, government resources, missing-person poster development, how to organize the foot soldiers and command centers, media engagement and management.” The center will assist each family with such a “plan for action.” she said.

Natalee Holloway was 18 when she vanished May 30, 2005, during a graduation trip with classmates from Mountain Brook High School, near Birmingham. Joran Van der Sloot, son of a well-known lawyer in Aruba, was twice arrested by island authorities in connection with the disappearance. And he was released both times, greatly angering Beth Holloway and her supporters.

Van der Sloot, a Dutch national, now 22, is in custody in Peru, charged with a killing a 21-year-old woman who was found dead in hotel room there May 30, exactly five years after Natalee Holloway was last seen. In Birmingham last week, federal authorities charged him with extortion, saying he offered to disclose what happened to Natalee Holloway in return for $250,000.

At Tuesday’s opening of the resource center, Beth Holloway spoke for 90 seconds, then left without taking questions. The museum’s chief operating officer, Janine Vaccarello, said the FBI had asked Holloway and the museum not to comment on the cases.

-- Paul Duggan

By Washington Post editors  |  June 8, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities , Cold Cases , Crime History , Paul Duggan  
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so does the public have free access to the resource center, or do you have to pay the museum entrance fee first?

a little more info might help.

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 8, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

OK ... it's a museum - is it free? Is it for profit? If its for profit where is the money going? Why DC and not the girls hometown of Alabama?

Posted by: Libramom | June 8, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Beth Holloway grace and poise under so much pressure and through so much trauma is amazing. Now she is dedicating herself to helping others under the same grace. Maybe now more will come out about what happened now that Van der Sloot has done himself in and can no longer be protected by a corrupt judge father and Dutch government and law enforcement. Just like the expression, "murder will out", the truth always seems to come out eventually because there is usually a pattern of behavior among rapists and murderers and those who cover for them. Still, I hope she can still be found alive.

Posted by: SusanMarie2 | June 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

a "for profit" center?
I guess helping other parents comes second on the list after making a buck off your dead daughter.

Posted by: 7900rmc | June 8, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

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