An Alabama judge declared Natalee Holloway legally dead today, more than six years after the teenager's unsolved disappearance in Aruba.
After the court hearing, Holloway's divorced parents said they expect the prime suspect in Natalee's disappearance, convicted murderer Joran van der Sloot, to be extradited to the United States to face justice in a separate matter, the Associated Press reports.
The legal declaration of Natalee Holloway's death allows Holloway's father to stop paying medical insurance for his missing daughter, and to use $2,000 in Natalee's college fund for her younger brother's education, the AP reports.
Courts can declare a legal presumption of death in missing-person cases if there's no evidence the person is still alive after a certain period of time. A legal death declaration allows a person's assets to be divided among her heirs.
The judge in Holloway's case ruled in September that the legal presumption of death had been met, and today was the deadline for anyone to prove otherwise, the AP reports. No one came forward with new evidence.
Natalee Holloway's death declaration comes one day after Joran van der Sloot, a Dutch citizen, pleaded guilty to killing a woman in Peru in 2010. The Peruvian woman, Stephany Flores, was strangled five years to the day after Natalee Holloway's disappearance. Van der Sloot faces up to 30 years in prison for Flores' murder.
Natalee Holloway's parents say their next goal is to get van der Sloot extradited to the United States.
Joran Van der Sloot, now 24, faces federal charges for allegedly extorting $25,000 from Natalee Holloway's mother to disclose the location of Natalee's body. Beth Holloway paid the money, but van der Sloot did not disclose anything, prosecutors told the AP.
- Judge declares missing Ala. teen Natalee Holloway dead (USA Today)
- Van der Sloot to Confess to Murder in Peru? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- When are you dead? (FindLaw)
- Paying the Debts of a Deceased Relative: Who Is Responsible? (FindLaw)