ABOUT DEJA NEWS 

In this series, we scour the AJC archives for the most interesting news from days gone by, show you the original front page and update the story.

Today’s AJC Deja News comes to you from the Monday, June 13, 2005, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Metro Atlanta high school seniors in the Class of 2020 saw their end-of-year plans upended, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. When Georgia's schools shut down in April, classes continued online but the special rituals and rites accorded only to seniors turned into virtual celebrations or were canceled. 

“I just feel heartbroken; it’s like we worked so hard for nothing. I just wanted to say goodbye to my friends, but I can’t even do that,” Archer High School senior Mikayla Payne told the AJC at the beginning of April.

The AJC's Jeffry Scott and Don Plummer covered the Natalee Holloway disappearance early in the summer of 2005.
Photo: AJC PRINT ARCHIVES

VIDEO: More on the Natalee Holloway case

What You Need To Know: Natalee Holloway

Members of the Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School Class of 2005 could empathize with not being able to say farewell to a friend in the way they'd hoped. The disappearance of their classmate, Natalee Holloway, on May 30 during an unofficial graduation trip to Aruba became a global news story. For many of Holloway’s friends in the Birmingham suburb, a two-hour drive west of Atlanta on I-20, what should have been a summer of planning for the move to college became a nationally-televised nightmare.

The AJC's Jeffry Scott, dispatched to the Aruban capital, Oranjestad, found a scene of confusion, anger and desperation as officials, family members and friends searched for the 18-year-old honor student, who had been missing for two weeks.

“This island awoke to a gray drizzle Sunday that matched the growing gloom that has descended over the investigation… despite a massive search, a $55,000 reward, and the help of the FBI,” Scott wrote.

Joran van der Sloot, right, sits in a car with his father, Paulus Van Der Sloot, after Joran was released from custody near Oranjestad, Aruba, in this Friday, Dec. 7, 2007, file photo.
Photo: Pedro Famous Diaz/The Associated Press

MORE DEJA NEWS>> Check out what we’ve covered before (and again)

CNN, Fox News and other cable and network TV outlets eagerly reported every new facet of the case all summer. Holloway’s mother, Beth, became a familiar face to viewers as she sought her missing daughter. Eventually, the 17-year-old scion of a prominent Dutch family on the island, Joran Van der Sloot, emerged as the prime suspect in Holloway’s disappearance. In 2012, Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the “qualified murder” of a Peruvian woman in his Lima hotel room and is serving a 28-year sentence for the crime. He maintains his innocence in the Holloway case.

Private investigator T.J. Ward, a former Fulton County sheriff’s deputy, told the AJC’s Jeffry Scott in Sept. 2010, “I’m pretty sure I know what happened to her. She died, and Joran Van der Sloot was there. The whole thing was a cover-up.” 

Holloway’s body was never found. An Alabama probate judge declared her legally dead in 2012; this Oct. 21, she would have turned 34. Had she lived, Holloway might now be among those front-line workers battling COVID-19. She'd earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama. Her plan? Pre-med studies.

CONTACT US

If you have a story you’d like researched and featured in AJC Deja News, send an email with as much information as you know. Email: malbright@ajc.com. Use the subject line “AJC Deja News.”

>> MORE AJC HISTORY HERE: AJCreprints.comPhoto reprintsContent archivesFlashback Photos

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

X