MOUNTAIN BROOK, AL - While the search continues in Aruba, it's now known that Natalee Holloway's family -- not Aruban police -- first identified and located a Dutch youth now held as a suspect in Natalee's disappearance.
A friend who helped with the search, Jody Bearman, says the
family's quick work, a combination of hunches, tips and amateur detective work on the Caribbean island, also led to two of the youth's friends who also were taken into custody.
Bearman organized the trip to Aruba for 125 students from Mountain Brook High School and seven chaperones. Bearman tells The Associated Press in an interview that Natalee had been missing less
than 24 hours and her family had all three names and addresses of
The three weren't taken into custody until 10 days after Holloway's family knew of them. Natalee went missing May 30th. Aruban authorities defend their work in the nearly three weeks since Holloway failed to show up for the trip home to Alabama, saying police work takes time.
On Saturday, spokeswoman Mariaine Croes at the attorney general's office in Aruba declined comment on how authorities initially learned of the three suspects, saying "We have to wait for the investigation to finish."
A fourth suspect, the disc jockey from a party boat, also is in custody. Bearman tells the Associated Press that Aruban authorities weren't totally to blame for their early failure to identify the suspects, something
she says the amateur sleuths did in less than three hours in Aruba. "They did not know what was going on," she says. "We were
there on a mission."