Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Profile of Tim Miller and Texas EquuSearch

Assisting the Aruban Police

In all during the course of the investigation, eight men were arrested, including Natalee's three escorts, two security guards, Joran's father and neighbor, and a disc jockey. By September, all were free to go, although they remained suspects. Various witnesses reported seeing the three young men doing suspicious things on the night in question, which undermined their stories and led to the fruitless search of a lake and a landfill. Planes equipped with infra-red sensors also failed to record anything of value.

However, tests run on Natalee's toothbrush yielded the DNA of a male, but it did not match any of the young men with whom she was last seen. That meant another suspect, as yet unknown, was in the picture. Rewards were posted that grew to one million dollars for her safe return. Still, there were no productive clues.

Miller's organization got involved in July 2005, helping to search the area where the small lake by the Marriott had been drained, and to scan local sand dunes with radar equipment. Nothing turned up and Natalee remained missing. Finally, TES had to return to the States. Miller wasn't happy, and he was determined that he would be back.

Gerald Dompig
Gerald Dompig

On January 13, 2006, he returned to Aruba to work with Jim Whitaker and Aruban Chief of Police Gerald Dompig to coordinate a new search. Information had surfaced that a fisherman's crab trap, large enough to contain a human body, had been stolen the night Natalee had disappeared, so it seemed possible that she had been killed, placed in the trap, and taken far out in the ocean to be dumped. Miller agreed to return in a few weeks with sophisticated equipment for a deep water search. If she had in fact been taken out that far, the cold water would preserve her remains.

Underwater searches require specialized knowledge. People who do this work must know the effects of different types of water on evidence, including corpses. They must possess extensive diving experience, knowledge about what to look for under water, and skill with the equipment involved. As well, they must know how to document and handle evidence within the protocol for that context. For example, there is a difference between rescue and recovery in a placid lake than in the ocean or in swift-running water.

Beth Holloway Twitty
Beth Holloway Twitty

If this search fails to turn up Natalee, the searchers will need to look for other options. As Miller says, TES never gives up. They're in this case now and they'll stay there for as long as it takes. In fact, Beth Twitty has been so impressed with their help that she volunteered to assist on the search for yet another missing woman.

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