Judge declares missing teen Natalee Holloway dead

By PHILLIP RAWLS | January 12, 2012 | 3:43 PM EST

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama judge has signed a court order declaring Natalee Holloway legally dead, more than six years after the teenager vanished in Aruba.

Judge Alan King took that step after a hearing Thursday requested by the teen's father, David Holloway. The father told the judge in September he believed his daughter had died and he wished to stop paying her medical insurance and use her college fund for her brother.

Thursday's hearing was set 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 on a high school graduation trip May 30, 2005. She was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot that day. Her body was never found.