Holloway Skeleton Search Called Off

Latest Holloway Investigation Called Off, Skeleton in Photograph Not Found

March 25, 2010— -- Aruban authorities have called off a team of divers searching the ocean for Natalee Holloway's remains, and concluded an underwater photograph taken by American tourists was a piece of coral, not Holloway's skull and bones.

The underwater investigation was sparked after John and Patti Muldowney, a Pennsylvania couple vacationing in Aruba last year told authorities that a photograph they took while snorkeling contained what looked like a skeleton.

Aruban police spent "several hours" on Sunday and again on Wednesday diving at a number of spots around the island that are frequented by sailboats, snorkelers and other tourists. The diving teams found nothing that resembled what looked like the skeleton in the Muldowney's photo.

"We found nothing that looks like what can be seen on the picture. The police did take photos at various locations. Our suspicion is that the photo shows a piece of coral that has been zoomed in on, which made it resemble a skull and bones," said Ann Angela, a spokeswoman for Aruban prosecutor's office.

Many forensic experts were skeptical of the Muldowney's photo from the beginning of the latest twist in the Holloway case. After looking at the photo, Dr. Cyril Wecht, one of the country's leading forensic pathologists, said the image doesn't match what a skeleton should look like.

"If you look at what would have to be the head you see that it does not really fit. If it's a front view, then what would be orbital sockets are far too low. If it's a rear view, then that does not fit because there's a lower portion that would not fit in with the neck," Wecht told ABC News.

John Muldowney said today he was disappointed that his photo didn't help the Holloway's find closure on the case of their missing daughter. "I feel sorry something didn't pop up. It would be nice for that family to finally have some closure on what happened. Now they are back to square one and just wondering and wondering what happened to Natalee," Muldowney said.

Search for Natalee Holloway Will Continue

While no more dives are planned to follow up on the Muldowney's tip, Angela said the prosecutor's office will continue "to follow every lead" in an attempt to determine what happened to Holloway, an 18-year-old Alabama high school student who was on a graduation trip in May 2005 when she was last reported seen leaving a bar in the capital of Oranjestad.