(AP) Alabama First Lady Patsy Riley promised the family of missing teenager Natalee Holloway that the state will always support the search for her, and accused the Aruban government of turning its back on the family.
“To know that another country turned its back,” Riley said, her voice breaking with emotion during a candlelit prayer meeting Thursday night for missing children. “The people of Alabama will never turn their back.”
Beth Twitty, and her stepfather, Jug Twitty, attended the prayer meeting at the Governor’s Mansion along with two dozen friends of Natalee Holloway and families of other missing persons.
“It touches me that they have so much strength to stand up for our family,” Jug Twitty said, referring to Gov. Bob Riley and his wife.
Some 40 Alabama children are missing, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Tara Frazier, whose 15-year-old niece Sharnecia went missing a year ago, said that while the prayer meeting was largely focused on Holloway, she still felt consoled.
“It was a comfort,” she said after the meeting. “Not so much sad, but comforting.”
Patsy Riley, speaking from the steps of the mansion, asked the victims’ families to stand together and draw from one another’s strength. They held hands in prayer, later lighting white candles in memory of their missing children.
“This is about all missing children,” the first lady told them. “The difference with Natalee is that a different country is involved. …Therefore, there’s a different crisis.”
Patsy Riley in the following comment summarized what this is all about and will always be about, the missing loved one.
Patsy Riley told the families that blowing out their candles “does not mean the end of this prayer meeting.
“We will never stop searching for your loved ones.”