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Natalee Holloway Could Be Declared Dead By Judge

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An undated handout photo of Natalee Holloway from her missing person flyer.
An undated handout photo of Natalee Holloway from her missing person flyer.

An Alabama judge will decide on Thursday whether to declare Natalee Holloway dead. The decision will come just one day after Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in her disappearance, pleaded guilty to murdering a young woman in Peru.

Probate Judge Alan King will make his decision on whether to sign the court order during a 2:30 p.m. hearing in Birmingham. In September, King ruled that Holloway's father, Dave Holloway, had met the legal presumption of death for his daughter. The decision was delayed to allow interested parties sufficient time to prove that Natalee Holloway was still alive. The father's attorney, Mark White, told the Associated Press Thursday that no new evidence has emerged.

Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, is opposed to the petition brought by her ex-husband, according to her attorney, John Q. Kelly. However, while Dave Holloway attended the previous court hearing, his ex-wife was notably absent.

The couple divorced in 1993. Their daughter was 18 years old when she disappeared on May 30, 2005, while on a trip to Aruba to celebrate her high school graduation. Her body has never been found. The case received international media attention and has inspired several books and movies.

Dave Holloway's attorney, Karen Hennecy, said her client wants his daughter declared dead so that his family can have closure.

The court documents, which say Natalee Holloway's possessions are worth less than $500, also name Joran van der Sloot as the "primary suspect" in her disappearance.

On Wednesday, van der Sloot pleaded guilty in the May 30, 2010, slaying of Stephany Flores. The Peruvian business student was found dead in van der Sloot's hotel room in Lima on June 2 of that year. Van der Sloot was charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the case.

Despite her apparent opposition to declaring her daughter dead, Beth Holloway did admit last year that she does not think Natalee is still alive. The brutal killing of Flores changed her mind, she said.

"[When] I discovered [the] ferocity in which he murdered Stephany Flores, that put it in perspective for me as to what transpired with Natalee," Holloway said during a May 10 appearance on CBS' "The Early Show."

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