Missing teen Natalee Holloway was officially declared dead today in a somber courtroom in Alabama, according to an attorney representing the girl's father.
Judge Alan King signed the declaration following a hearing attended by both Holloway's parents in Brimingham, according to Mark White, the attorney for Holloway's father. The declaration will then go to the Bureau for Vital Records, which will produce a death certificate, White said.
Beth Holloway sat quietly in the back of the court room for the proceeding, according to her attorney John Q. King. She had been opposed to the idea of declaring her daughter dead because she was unwilling to give up the slight hope that Natalee might be alive somewhere, King said.
The request for Holloway to be declared dead came from her father Dave Holloway who claimed in the court papers that because there is no evidence Natalee is alive, the time has come to declare her legally dead.
The father had previously told ABC News that his request was promped in part by his desire to use Natalee's $2,000 college fund to help her younger brother.
His attorney, Mark White, said today that his client would get closure from the proceeding and allow him to present the death certificate as evidence, should he need it, that his daughter no longer exists. White noted that dealing with insurance and other "red-tape" can be difficult without the declaration.
Natalee's mother disagreed.
"Beth's position is she has no proof or indication that Natalee is still alive, but absent any proof or indication that she is dead, she always wants to hang onto that slight glimmer of hope," said Beth Holloway's attorney, John Q. Kelly. "No mother likes to, without evidence, have her daughter declared dead. She wants to carry around her around in her heart."
Kelly noted that since no one had any evidence that Natalee might still be alive, it was a foregone conclusion that the petition would be granted.
Beth Holloway, when asked about her ex-husband's petition in September, called Dave's actions "inexplicable" and said she was taken by surprise that he had filed it.
Natalee Holloway Declared Dead Today
The court hearing comes a day after court proceedings in Peru where the main suspect in Holloway's disappearance, Joran van der Sloot, pleaded guilty to murdering a different woman. Van der Sloot entered the plea Wednesday and is awaiting sentencing by the Peruvian court. He has admitted to killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores, a Peruvian businesswoman, on May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Natalee's disappearance.
Van der Sloot, a Dutch citizen, was never formally charged with Holloway's death in Aruba, but was arrested and held for questioning in the matter twice.
Beth Holloway has been relentless in her efforts to find out what happened to her daughter, even slipping into a Peruvian prison to confront van der Sloot.
At one point, she agreed to a sting, seemingly complying with Van Der Sloot's demand for cash in exchange for information about the location of her daughter's body. The transaction was monitored by Aruba authorities, but van der Sloot left the island before the FBI filed extortion charges.
Natalee Holloway was on the last day of a graduation trip to Aruba with her senior class at Mountain Brook High School in Alabama when she did not return to her hotel. She was last seen in a car with several people, including Van Der Sloot.