An Alabama judge signed an order Thursday declaring Natalee Holloway dead, more than six years after the American teenager vanished on the Caribbean island of Aruba during a high school graduation trip.

Judge Alan King signed the order at the close of a hearing in a Birmingham courtroom that was attended by the missing woman’s divorced parents, Dave and Beth Holloway.

Dave Holloway told the judge in September he believed his daughter had died and he wanted to stop payments on her medical insurance and use her $2,000 college fund to help her younger brother. Thursday’s hearing was scheduled long before a suspect questioned in Holloway’s disappearance, Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Peru to the 2010 murder of a woman in Lima.

Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba on May 30, 2005. The 18-year-old was last seen leaving a bar early that morning with van der Sloot. Her body was never found and the ensuing searches for the young woman garnered intense media scrutiny and worldwide attention.

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