Holloway searchers need help

February 28, 2008 6:21:22 PM PST
It's been almost three years since Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba on a class trip. But searchers have not given up hope.

A Kemah businessman has been on the front lines of the search for Natalee, spending over a million dollars of his own money. Over the past four months, he's paid for an underwater search.

The morning we were there, Louis Schafer was signing a wire transfer for $250,000. The money used to operate a sophisticated, deep sea survey boat, named the Persistence.

"I've dedicated a million dollars, I've gone way above that," said Louis Schafer of Underwater Expeditions. "I feel like it's time to ask for help from the American people that want to see this case solved."

The Persistence has been used every day since November to survey the ocean floor near Aruba. It uses remote operated vehicles, called ROVs, to sweep the ocean depths. What they've been able to accomplish is astounding.

"By Friday, we will have surveyed the entire 50-square mile off Aruba," Schafer said. "We have identified at least 60 of the targets. we have about 150 more targets to inspect."

Natalee Holloway traveled to Aruba two years ago to celebrate her high school graduation and disappeared. Natalee was last seen with Joran Van der Sloot who says he does not know what happened to her.

Schafer made a fortune in the deep sea diving business for oil rig removal and installation. He had access to unique technology and a team of experts that could find just about anything.

"So we have completely mapped the ocean floor, we know every object that's there, we know every object that could be a container holding her in the sea," he said.

A relentless search Schafer and his team say will stop, if they don't get more funding.

"And we all feel, I'm speaking from everybody on the team, that she's in one of the targets we have not looked at yet," Tim Trahan of Underwater Expeditions said. "We can't stop. I go to sleep at night thinking we've located it, we just need to get to it."

The search of the rest of those targets will stop this week. For more information on how you can help, click here.

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