Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paradise Lost: The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

A Twist in the Case

Joran van der sloot interviewed by Greta Van Susteren.
Joran van der sloot interviewed
by Greta Van Susteren.
In early 2008, the Dutch media came into possession of a videotape of van der Sloot talking to his friend, Dutch businessman Patrick van der Eem, about Holloway's disappearance.  The video was broadcast on February 3 by Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch crime reporter and television personality.  In the video, van der Sloot is seen smoking marijuana in van der Eem's car, and describing how he and Holloway had sex on the beach, after which she began shaking and had a seizure. Van der Sloot said he called a friend who helped him dispose of the body in the ocean.  The videotape did not prove to be sufficient evidence to re-arrest van der Sloot; a judge denied the prosecutor's request to obtain a warrant based on van der Sloot's videotaped "confession." Van der Sloot did not deny making the statements on the videotape, but said that he had lied under the influence of marijuana.  

In 2008, van der Sloot contacted Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, wishing to reveal the truth about his involvement in the case.  At that time, he told Van Susteren that he had received just under $10,000 cash in exchage for Natalee, whom he had handed over to a stranger on a boat.  According to van der Sloot, the stranger was a human trafficker who took Natalee to Venezuela.  Van der Sloot also claimed that his father had bribed two police officers to keep quiet about what they knew.  As with the previous confession, van der Sloot quickly retracted his statements, and once again claimed that he had been lying.

Van der Sloot made another confession in 2009, telling the Dutch newspaper De Telegraf a story very similar to his videotaped admission, but this time claiming to have dumped Natalee's body in a marsh, not at sea.  This confession was made public on February 23, 2010, shortly after van der Sloot's father, Paulus, who had been implicated in the disposal of Natalee's body, died of a heart attack while playing tennis at a resort.  Chief prosecutor Peter Blanken has maintained that both this and the 2008 confessions have little credibility and that van der Sloot's statements do not match known facts in the case.   

Underwater photograph thought to be Natalee's remains. (CNN)
Underwater photograph thought to be Natalee's remains. (CNN)
In March 2009, Natalee's father, David Holloway, relying on eyewitness statements which placed van der Sloot near a pond on the night of Natalee's disappearance, flew a search dog and handler to the area in hopes of discovering his daughter's remains.  The search was unsuccessful.

Neither the FBI nor Aruban authorities acted immediately to detain van der Sloot, whose information given in exchange for the deposit was found to be not credible. Van der Sloot left Aruba shortly thereafter, flying to Bogota, Colombia, and then to Lima, Peru, to participate in a poker tournament. In Lima, the saga of Natalee Holloway and Joran van der Sloot would take yet another strange twist.

Stephany Flores Ramirez
Stephany Flores Ramirez
On May 30, 2010, the fifth anniversary of Holloway's disappearance, two weeks after arriving from Bogota, van der Sloot and Stephany Flores Ramirez, a Peruvian woman he had met at the poker tournament, were captured on hotel video cameras entering van der Sloot's hotel room together; four hours later, van der Sloot was seen leaving the room alone. Two days later, housekeeping at the hotel found Flores' body bludgeoned to death in the room. The cause of death was ruled to be blunt-force trauma to the head, and a tennis racket found in the room was identified as the murder weapon.

Police quickly identified van der Sloot as the prime suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest. Van der Sloot had been sighted entering Chile the day before, though, and an Interpol warrant was issued. Van der Sloot was arrested outside Santiago, Chile, on June 3 for the murder of Flores. Van der Sloot denied killing Flores, the daughter of a prominent Peruvian businessman, to Chilean police, but was returned to Peru the next day. On June 5, he was taken back to Lima and interrogated by police.

Joran van der sloot in custody
Joran van der sloot in custody
Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the F.B.I. was finally ready to act on the extortion case against van der Sloot. On June 3, van der Sloot was charged in Alabama with extortion and wire fraud, exposing him to extradition to the U.S. to face those charges. On June 4, Dutch authorities, acting at the request of the F.B.I. searched two residences in the Netherlands for evidence related to van der Sloot's alleged criminal activities.

On June 7, Lima police announced that van der Sloot had offered yet another confession to a felony, this time to the killing of Flores, but in such a manner, if accepted, as to pave the way for a manslaughter charge rather than murder. Van der Sloot, it was reported, confessed to killing Flores in a rage after she tampered with his laptop computer, which, van der Sloot maintained, contained personal information pertaining to his involvement in the Holloway case. Van der Sloot further maintained that he had been drunk and under the influence of marijuana at the time of the attack. Van der Sloot's mother, through a family attorney, expressed concern that the confession may have been coerced, and all parties anticipate the possibility that van der Sloot will once again retract his confession.

 

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