June 9, 2005 — -- One family knows all too well what the relatives of the Alabama high school graduate who disappeared while vacationing in Aruba are going through.
Ron and Iva Bradley see mirror images of themselves when they watch the friends and family of Natalee Holloway on television insisting they will not leave Aruba without her and that they remain hopeful they will find their missing loved one. Holloway, 18, was last seen May 30 while on a five-day trip to the Dutch Caribbean island with classmates celebrating their high school graduation.
The Bradleys have carried similar feelings of helplessness in the seven years that their daughter Amy has been missing.
"Nobody should have to go through what we've been though in the last seven years," Ron Bradley told ABC News affiliate WRIC in Richmond, Va. "I know that Natalee's family is going through the same thing. You have so many thoughts and things that come to your mind and it just doesn't leave you."
Amy Bradley, a 23-year-old recent college graduate who was about to start a new job at the time of her disappearance, vanished in March 1998 while she vacationed with her family on a Caribbean cruise. The Bradleys were on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Rhapsody of the Seas, then a year-old luxury ship, and Aruba was one of the ship's destinations.
The Bradleys say three men who worked on the ship became friendly with Amy and wanted to take her to a bar in Aruba, Carlos 'n Charlie's -- the same bar where Holloway was seen eating and dancing the night she disappeared. Holloway never showed up for her flight the next morning, and police found her passport and packed bags in her hotel room.
Bradley's parents say they last saw their daughter dancing along with her brother Brad at a Mardi Gras party on the ship before they retired for the night to the family's suite. The ship's computerized door-lock system showed that Brad returned to the suite at 3:35 a.m. March 24, while Amy arrived five minutes later. Brad Bradley said he and his sister sat on the suite's balcony and talked before he went to sleep. He said he last saw Amy sitting in a lounge chair on the balcony.
Ron Bradley said he awoke at 6 a.m. and saw that Amy was not in her room or on the balcony. He searched for her for approximately an hour before he contacted ship security officials. When the ship arrived in Curacao, the Bradley family pleaded with the captain not to lower the gangplank and let its 2,000 passengers off until officials conducted a massive search of the cruise liner.
Crew officials conducted a search of the ship, but found no evidence of foul play and suspected Amy Bradley fell or jumped off the ship. Authorities subsequently searched the ship and the waters but did not find Amy's body. Her whereabouts have been unknown ever since.
Ron and Iva Bradley say they pray for the Holloways and hope the search for Natalee Holloway can return attention to their daughter's case.
"We're doing these [media interview] pieces so that we can get some [attention] -- get Amy's face back out in the public -- because we know that somebody knows something," Ron Bradley said.
Aruban authorities are holding five men in connection with Holloway's disappearance while investigators search for the teen. Three men Aruban authorities initially questioned and referred to as "persons of interest" in her disappearance have been arrested. Their names have not been released. And police continue to detain -- but have not formally charged -- two former hotel security guards, Nick John and Abraham Jones.