Dave Holloway is a father searching for closure.
Describing to PEOPLE the toll that searching for his daughter Natalee has taken on him, he says, “There are times when I’ve been in a panic situation — blood pressure goes up, you think you’re having a heart attack, and it all comes down to the stress of all of this.”
He adds, “You get to the point in your life and say, ‘Are you just going to forget about it?’ But you really can’t. If a lead comes up, you have to make a choice – you’re either going to pursue it or spend the rest of your life worrying about it.”
Natalee Holloway went missing during a high school graduation trip to Aruba more than 12 years ago. Dave’s quest to find out what happened to her is the focus of the six-part series The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, which premieres Saturday (7 p.m. ET) on Oxygen.
For a long time, authorities and Natalie’s family have suspected Joran van der Sloot was responsible for her disappearance. He has never faced trial in connection with the case, but he is currently serving a 28-year sentence for an unrelated murder in Peru.
Without information from van der Sloot to assist them, Dave and criminal investigator T.J. Ward have chased lead after lead, including one to Nicaragua, only to face many dead ends. Each time Dave pursues another fruitless lead, it’s as if he goes through the healing process again.
“How many times do we have to bury her?” he asks.
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Now, once again, Dave finds himself with another lead that has made him cautiously hopeful he might find closure.
In September 2015, he received a call from a man named Gabriel. Reluctant to follow another bad lead, Dave’s interest was piqued when some of Gabriel’s information sounded credible. Ward, Dave’s investigative partner, agreed.
“I sat down with [Gabriel] and interviewed him for a couple of hours,” Ward says. “There’s some validity to what he’s talking about. There are things he wouldn’t have known unless somebody told him.”
Since late September 2015, Dave and Ward have collected information from Gabriel, a man who knew a friend of van der Sloot’s.
“When he came to me, he had a lot of information, but I wanted more,” Dave says. “[At the time this started], I told T..J., ‘I’ve waited for 10 years. Let’s not rush this.’ ”
They’re hoping their patience has paid off. Within the last week, Dave says there has been a major break in the case after human remains were discovered. DNA tests are currently being tested on the bones, and the results could take up to a month, he says.
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For now, he hopes the public will get a sense of what he has endured for the last 12 years.
“Maybe it will bring new awareness to all those involved in Natalee’s disappearance. If these are not her bones, then whose are they? What the heck is going on? A lot of people, like me, want to know the end. What happened?” Dave says. “That’s what I’m trying to do. It’s what I’ve always tried to do – get to the finish line.”
The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway premieres Saturday (7 p.m. ET) on Oxygen.