Opelika, Alabama, woman Lily Ledbetter was reportedly found dead in an apartment in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she worked part time for a local animal shelter. 

The 22-year-old was reportedly discovered by local authorities on the island of St. John on June 6 at around 12:30 a.m. local time, where she was unconscious. Twenty minutes after finding her, Ledbetter was pronounced dead at approximately 12:50 a.m. The Virgin Island Police Department is investigating the case, as Ledbetter’s cause of death was ruled to be unknown at the time. 

Ledbetter had been living on the island to work at the Animal Care Center in St. John. She had been attending Auburn University, according to Ledbetter’s online obituary. Ledbetter’s funeral services were held in her hometown on June 17. 

“With our deepest sorrow, the family of Lily Alyscia Ledbetter, born May 18, 2001, announces her sudden death in St. John, USVI, on June 6, 2023,” the obituary website reads. “She is survived by her mother, Sharon Thrash; brother, Jarrett Clark; father, Patrick Ledbetter, stepmother Sarah; brother, Lawson Ledbetter; and grandmother, Marie Ledbetter. Lily is also survived by a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins.” 

The obituary also described Ledbetter’s academic and social involvement, noting that she graduated with honors from Opelika High School in 2019. 

“Lily was active with the dance team, show choir, band, and numerous clubs and organizations,” the website continued, referring to Ledbetter’s high school extracurricular activities. “Lily attended Auburn University and competed with the Auburn University Women’s Rowing Club. Her sparkling smile, contagious laugh and spice for life inspired everyone she met. Knowing Lily, loving Lily, and being loved by Lily were transforming. Lily lit up a room when she entered. She met no strangers, and her laughter and zest for life were infectious. As an animal lover, especially cats, she spent time working at the animal shelter in St. John. Lily was everyone’s best friend.” 

A Facebook profile photo of Lily Ledbetter
Courtesy of Lily Ledbetter/Facebook

According to Ledbetter’s Facebook page, the late college student noted that she also played the saxophone in addition to being an avid dancer. Her last update via the social media platform was on March 4, when she changed her profile picture. Ledbetter’s LinkedIn page also noted that she was set to graduate from college in 2024 and was working as an intern for the Stone Building Company in Birmingham, Alabama. 

The young woman’s case is hauntingly similar to that of Natalee Holloway’s, who was also an Alabama native. Holloway took a trip with classmates to Aruba in 2005 and suddenly vanished on May 30 of that year. The 18-year-old’s remains were never found. However, at the request of Holloway’s family, she was pronounced legally dead in January 2012.

Holloway’s case gripped the nation throughout the early 2000s after three local Aruban residents, Joran Van Der Sloot and brothers Deepak Kalpoe and Satish Kalpoe, were arrested multiple times. However, authorities released the men each time due to having a lack of evidence. Nevertheless, Van Der Shoot remained a prime suspect in the years to come. 

In February 2008, Aruban police obtained video footage of Van der Sloot under the influence of marijuana claiming that Holloway died the day that she disappeared. After alleging that he had sold Holloway into sexual slavery, Van der Sloot later denied his statements. Nevertheless, 15 years later, he was extradited to the United States on June 8 for his trial. Van der Sloot is currently facing charges of wire fraud and extortion in connection to Holloway’s disappearance. 

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