More than six years after she was last seen on the Caribbean island of Aruba, Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway has been declared legally dead.

Holloway was 18 when she disappeared during a senior class trip on May 30, 2005, after leaving a nightclub with Joran van der Sloot and two other men. While no one has been charged with her death and her body has never been found, Natalee’s father, Dave Holloway, filed a petition to declare his daughter dead in June of 2011, a move he says was an act of “closure” and a necessity for legal reasons.

Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, originally opposed the action by her ex-husband, pointing to a lack of evidence that her daughter is deceased and saying in a September statement that she “will always hope and pray for Natalee’s safe return.”

Probate Judge Alan King signed the order following an afternoon hearing in Jefferson County court in Birmingham, after which Beth, who now works with groups and families of missing children, told reporters, “Natalee’s father wanted to see this through, and of course it makes me very sad.”

Just one day prior, van der Sloot, the prime suspect in Natalee’s disappearance, confessed in a Lima court to murdering a 21-year-old Peruvian woman five years to the day after Holloway went missing. He was sentenced on Friday to 28 years in prison and could also face possible extradition to the United States for allegedly trying to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s mother to reveal the whereabouts of Natalee’s remains — information that was later proved bogus.