Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Paradise Lost: The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway

The Initial Search for Natalee

Natalee's mom, Beth Twitty, got a call on her cell phone from Aruba around 11:00 a.m. It was from one of the seven adult chaperones escorting the rambunctious teens on their senior trip.

Natalee was missing.

Beth Twitty
Beth Twitty

Beth Twitty didn't even consider the possibility that Natalee was just late and had missed the rendezvous with her classmates.

"I knew immediately that my daughter had been kidnapped in Aruba," Beth Twitty later told Vanity Fair magazine. "Natalee has never been late in her life."

Eleven hours later, Beth and her husband, Natalee's stepfather, George "Jug" Twitty, landed in Aruba aboard a private jet. Jug had brought a couple of friends along.

When the Americans landed they recruited some local help and then commenced to tear through the sleepy Dutch island like an assault force of U.S. Marines.

Deepak Kalpoe
Deepak Kalpoe

At first, the Twittys' in-your-face, direct approach got results. Within hours of landing on Aruba they had the name and address of one of the three young men with whom Natalee's friends had last seen her. Led by a sympathetic islander, Beth and her husband confronted 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot in the driveway of his parents' home. With Joran was his father, Paulus van der Sloot, a member of the Aruban judiciary, and 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe, one of the other young men who had left Carlos 'N Charlie's with Natalee.

Joran van der Sloot
Joran van der Sloot

Holding a picture of Natalee in her hand, Beth walked straight up to Joran, whose image she had seen on a hotel casino surveillance tape earlier that night, and said to him, "Tell me where my daughter is!"

Paulus van der Sloot
Paulus van der Sloot

At first the tall, pimply-faced Dutch teenager claimed not to even know whom the Americans were talking about.

However, with the help of another sympathetic local, who served as a translator, the Twittys continued to question Joran and eventually got some answers. Joran admitted that he had been with Natalee late the previous night. They met, Joran said, at the casino at the Holiday Inn and again later at Carlos 'N Charlie's. Natalee wanted to leave with Joran and his friends. She wanted to go to the beach to see sharks. Joran said he and Deepak, along with Deepak's younger brother, 18-year-old Satish, had driven Natalee around the island in Deepak's car.

Satish Kalpoe
Satish Kalpoe

Joran said he and Natalee had been alone in the back seat. He claimed Natalee had been very drunk and had performed oral sex on him. Later, they dropped her off at her hotel and that was the last they saw of her.

The Twittys' aggressive attitude eventually drove Joran's father to end the early morning interview. The Americans then returned to the Holiday Inn.

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