Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Van der Sloot’s Marriage Made in Prison

Joran van der Sloot. Police photo.

If there is one common theme in Joran van der Sloot’s life, it is that he never fails to surprise. His latest outrage involves his plans to get married, less than two years into his 28-year-sentence in Peru for the murder of Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramirez in a hotel room in Lima in 2005.

If his plans for a prison wedding were not already bizarre enough, the date of the announcement on May 30 also marks the anniversary of his past misdeeds.  Indeed, Joran made his plans to marry known to the public on the very day when Natalee Ann Holloway disappeared, exactly eight years ago. Van der Sloot is the main person of interest in her case. The date also marks the third anniversary of when Joran bludgeoned to death Stephany Flores with a tennis racket a few hours after meeting her in a casino. Besides offering a cruel reminder to the families of Natalee Ann Holloway and Stephany Flores, why did Joran choose that day to announce his plans to marry? Was the announcement just a cruel joke to inflict more emotional pain on the loved ones of the two women?

Psychiatrists have long speculated about Joran’s mental disorders and why he does what he does, with little regard for the harm he inflicts on others. Obsessive compulsive disorder, a personality disorder, excessive narcissism, general sociopathic tendencies, and other possibilities have all been discussed.

But if one trait of Joran’s personality has emerged, it is that he is a pathological liar, according to many. Joran’s well documented deeds speak for themselves, including how he changed his story many times about what happened on the night Natalee Ann Holloway disappeared in Aruba, sometimes confessing to witnessing her death, other times claiming ignorance. Worse yet, Joran extorted $25,000 from her family to show them where the body was and then lied about the location, claiming it was buried beneath a house that wasn’t yet built when she disappeared.

Natalee Holloway

Natalee Holloway

Clint van Zandt, a former FBI profiler, quickly became convinced that Joran was a chronic liar early on in his investigation. Van Zandt spent much time compiling a profile on Joran by working as a private detective for Beth Twitty, Natalee Holloway’s mother, and became convinced that Joran represented a two to four percent segment of the population that has a sociopathic, psychopathic, or anti-social personality. “He is a pathological liar, and I think the only time he will tell the truth about anything is when he believes it is in his best self interest at the exclusion of anyone else on the planet,” van Zandt told Crime Library.

While acknowledging that it is impossible make an exact psychological assessment without interviewing Joran in person, Dr. Stephen Diamond, a California-based forensic psychologist, said Joran certainly suffered from a personality disorder of some sort. By constantly lying and capitalizing on the pain and misfortunes of others with little or no remorse, Joran’s behavior fits the pattern of someone who has an antisocial personality disorder, Diamond said. “Van der Sloot also seems to manifest many of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder, or at least exhibits narcissistic traits including grandiosity, arrogance, a sense of entitlement, interpersonal exploitation, lack of empathy, and severe narcissistic rage,” Diamond said. “This is why I see defendants such as this as suffering from ‘psychopathic narcissism.’”

The closest publicly available findings about what goes on inside the mind of Joran were revealed in the weeks following his arrest in Peru. At that time, Joran underwent a more thorough psychiatric evaluation with a renowned forensic psychologist from the Peruvian police, Silvia Rojas Regalado. Dr. Regalado found that Joran suffered from a psychological disorder that may have affected his ability to judge from right or wrong or that prevented him from being unaware of his acts. In other words, Joran was legally sane and responsible for his acts when he killed Stephany Flores. Prosecutors’ fears were thus allayed that Joran could somehow escape prosecution and prison time by claiming he was criminally insane.

But while Dr. Regalado found that Joran was legally insane, she reported that Joran suffered from a personality disorder, which helped to explain why he was able to so brazenly lie and manipulate others without feeling guilt. Dr. Regalado found that Joran has an anti-social personality that is exacerbated by a low tolerance for frustration, a lack of responsibility, and a complete disregard for social norms and the well being of others. Dr. Regalado also said Joran was also emotionally shallow and drawn to a hedonistic lifestyle, which helped to explain his keen interest in playing poker, drinking, and smoking marijuana.

In a nutshell, Joran’s personality traits were like a Molotov cocktail, which exploded whenever Joran could not do what he wanted when he wanted. While it remains unknown exactly how Natalee Ann Holloway disappeared, Joran exploded in a rage of violence and began beating Stefany Flores to death with a tennis racket when she likely refused to help him get money to continue gambling.

Joran’s plans to get married thus likely do not involve helping anyone but himself. According to Peruvian legal expert, being married to a Peruvian citizen or eventually using the marriage license to become a citizen will not help Joran fight being extradited to the United States. He already benefits from conjugal visits with his girlfriend, so being married to her will not help him with spending more time with her, either.

Given the morbid and grotesque timing of the marriage announcement on the  anniversaries of Natalee Ann Holloway’s disappearance and Stephany Flores’ murder, perhaps Joran took some sort of twisted and gratuitous pleasure by inflicting more emotional pain on the victims’ families.

But according to Joran’s attorney, Joran is simply “in love.”

Inside the Mind of Joran van der Sloot

Do Murderers Deserve to Have Sex Behind Bars? A Look at the Evolution of Conjugal Visits

Joran Van der Sloot: I Got My Girlfriend Pregnant in Prison

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