On May 30, 2005, Natalee Holloway, an 18 year old American student from Birmingham, Alabama, disappeared during her Mountain Brook High School graduation trip to the Dutch island of Aruba. Last seen at the local Carlos ‘n Charlie’s, she never made it to her flight home. Witnesses said she was last seen in a car with Aruba resident Joran van der Sloot, and brothers Deepak Kalpoe and Satish Kalpoe. The trio were arrested days later but eventually released on lack of evidence. The men said that they dropped Holloway off at her hotel and did not know what happened to her.
Natalee’s disappearance caused a media sensation in the United States. Investigators conducted an extensive search with the help of FBI agents and Dutch soldiers (even using F-16s). Divers searched the ocean floor. Unfortunately, Holloway’s body was never found.
In 2008, an undercover video surfaced showing Joran Van der Sloot admitting to being present when Holloway suffered some kind of seizure while having sex on the beach, then dumping her lifeless body into the sea.
The Aruban prosecutor’s office reopened the case. Van der Sloot denied what he said in the video, but then bizarrely went on Greta Van Susteren and told her he sold Holloway into sexual slavery (he would later retract this statement as well).
Murder of Stephany Flores
In May, 2010, Joran van der Sloot told Natalee Holloway’s mother that he would supply her with information about her daughter’s disappearance, if she gave him $25,000. FBI agents, wanting to build an extortion case against him, decided to set him up with the payoff. Unfortunately, 4 days later, Van der Sloot flew to Peru with the money, and it is in Lima, Peru where he murdered 21-year-old Stephany Flores.
Van der Sloot was free to travel because after the money was given to him, the FEDs didn’t promptly file charges against him. US authorities also did not ask that he be detained in Aruba, even after officials there warned that he was about to leave the island. Van der Sloot took his payola from the feds — a $15,000 wire transfer and $10,000 in cash — and went to Peru to play poker. It was only a few hours after van der Sloot was later captured in Chile for Stephany Flores’ murder that federal prosecutors in Alabama announced they were charging him with extortion and wire fraud in the Holloway shakedown.
Van der Sloot confessed to beating Flores and breaking her neck in his hotel room on May 30 – the 5th anniversary of Holloway’s disappearance. He said that Flores had looked at his laptop computer without permission and found information about his role in the Holloway case. “I did not want to do it,” van der Sloot told cops, “The girl intruded in my private life. She had no right.” A coroner in Lima said Flores likely had been beaten to death with a tennis racket found in the room. A source told CNN that van der Sloot admitted to being high on marijuana during the assault.
On June 11, 2010, Joran Van der Sloot was charged in Lima Superior Court with 1st degree murder and robbery. In a prison interview a few months later, he admitted to the extortion plot, saying “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family—her parents have been making my life tough for five years.”
Prison for Joran van der Sloot
On January 13th, 2012, Joran van der Sloot was sentenced to 28 years for the killing of Stephany Flores. He was also ordered to pay $75,000 in reparations to the victim’s family. He is eligible to be freed in June 2038.
Natalee Holloway Declared Dead
A day earlier, on January 12, 2012, Natalee Holloway was declared legally dead by a judge in Alabama. (source)
Currently, the courts are deciding whether Natalee Holloway can be legally declared dead.
The Natalee Holloway Media Sensation
For awhile, there seemed to be nothing on U.S. television except the search for Natalee Holloway. Greta Van Susteren, host of Fox News Channel’s On the Record, and Nancy Grace on CNN’s Headline News devoted the most airtime to the story. There was the charge that Holloway only got this much media attention because she was a pretty, young, white blonde girl. (Called the “missing white woman syndrome“)
CBS senior journalist Danna Walker answered this charge by saying:
“It is a big story because it is an American girl who went off on an adventure, and didn’t come back. It is a huge mystery, it is something people can identify with”
Update – June 2012
Two letters written by Joran van der Sloot in June blame his lawyers for his lengthy sentence. In addition he asks for forgiveness for Flores’ murder and still maintains that he had nothing to do with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
The Peruvian Supreme Court has ruled that van der Sloot can be extradited to the U.S. to face extortion charges related to the incident involving Holloway’s mother.