Oranjestad, Aruba Prosecutors closed their investigation into the disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, saying Tuesday they still believe three young men were involved in her death but can't prove it after 932 days of searching failed to turn up a body.
The three main suspects in the case were re-arrested last month after prosecutors in Aruba discovered online chat sessions they hoped would break the case open. But none of the men talked in custody, and without the 18-year-old's body, prosecutors said they had no recourse but to close the most notorious missing persons case in the Caribbean.
If the three suspects were put on trial, the lack of evidence "would lead to an acquittal," the Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
Moving Holloway into the cold-case files "is a tough burden to bear" for her parents, they acknowledged, but the prosecutors said they had little choice.
However, detectives are assigned to review any new information that surfaces in the case, said John Pauly, a communications consultant for the prosecutor's office, in an e-mail sent after the announcement.
Holloway disappeared on May 30, 2005, the last night of a trip with members of her Mountain Brook, Ala., high school graduating class. She was last seen leaving a bar with the three suspects: Joran van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, who all lived on this Dutch island off the coast of Venezuela.
Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, is "terribly disappointed" with Tuesday's decision, her spokeswoman said.
"She was very hopeful the last couple weeks, and she went down there and met with the prosecutor," Sunny Tillman told The Associated Press. "He told her face-to-face that he had new and incriminating evidence, and that made her hopeful."
But the prosecutors' transcripts of the suspects' online chats "didn't have any incriminating points," according to David Kock, an attorney for the Kalpoe brothers. The lawyer said it was fanciful to think of the chats as damning.