Did This Stop Natalee Holloway From Being Found in Time?
In May 30, 2005, a young and beautiful girl by the name of Natalee Ann Holloway vanished without a trace on the Caribbean island of Aruba. At first the case seemed pretty straightforward: a missing girl needed to be located, but lies, misinformation, and multiple suspects caused everything to go wrong and turned this case into a hair-raising murder mystery. Most of the alleged facts seem to point to one specific suspect, but nothing has been proved. So why wasn’t she ever found? And who is really to blame? Read on to find out everything that went wrong with the Natalee Holloway case.
1. Young, Wild, and Free
Natalee Holloway seemed to have it all. Her friends described her as “popular, beautiful, and smart.” She excelled at school and loved cheerleading and sports. After graduating from Mountain Brook High School in Alabama, USA on May 24, 2005, the world was her oyster.
Before embarking on a new chapter in her life in which she planned to enroll in pre-med school at the University of Alabama, Holloway joined another 125 high school graduates for four days of fun, sun, and letting some hair down in Aruba. Unfortunately, this would prove to be the last chapter in Holloway’s book. As if things didn’t get eerie enough, she seemed to “know” it was the end when signed off her 2005 senior yearbook with a line from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s song, “Free Bird”: “If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me? For I must be traveling on now, there’s too many places I haven’t seen.”
2. Without a Trace
Six days after graduating from high school, Holloway made her way to Aruba for some sun, salty air, and partying. She was scheduled to fly home on May 30, 2005, but failed to show up for the flight. This is when her parents, Beth and David, were informed and the official search began. The last time she was seen by her friends was outside a local bar, Carlos’n Charlie’s.
Witnesses said they saw her leaving with local residents Joran Van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, Deepak and Satish. All three men were repeatedly questioned and taken into custody, with Van der Sloot as the main suspect. But it didn’t end with him; things got very messy and suspicious when inconsistent statements, wrongful arrests, and multiple witnesses came forward with no solid evidence as to what happened that fateful night. So what turned the case into a full-blown murder mystery case and what went wrong?
3. Enters Joran Van der Sloot
Joran van Der Sloot, a Dutch national, lived with his parents in Aruba and attended high school there. He was 17-years-old when he met Holloway at the local bar Carlos’n Charlie’s on her last night on the island. According to several witnesses, he was the last person seen with her at 1:30 a.m., so he was listed as the prime suspect by the local police and international authorities.
When the police got to his house, Holloway was nowhere to be seen. Van der Sloot and his friends said they had absolutely no idea what happened to her after they walked her to the hotel. Not only did the boys’ statements change several times which upset the case’s proceedings; Holloway’s mother also made several crucial mistakes of her own.
4. Changing the Story
The police were not convinced Van der Sloot and his friends were telling the truth so took them into custody. There, Van der Sloot changed the story in his statement. He said that Holloway wanted to see the sharks at Arashi beach, so they headed for the California Lighthouse.
He went on to report that Holloway changed her mind and asked to go back to the hotel because she didn’t want to miss her flight that morning. Van der Sloot emphasized that she was extremely drunk and could barely walk. The boys walked her to the hotel and saw a security guard approach her. After that they aren’t sure what happened, he said. This statement, however, would change once again and cause even more turmoil.
5. Leave It to the Authorities
After Natalee’s mother, Beth received the call that forever changed her life, she flew via private jet to Aruba with George Twitty, whom she married after she divorced Natalee’s father, David Holloway. She was shocked because she was in contact with her daughter the whole time; they texted often and she had no idea anything was wrong.
It was hard for Beth to believe her daughter wasn’t safe, so she immediately contacted her daughter’s friends. They told her about Van der Sloot and she pushed the police to go to his house. The problem is that she went with them to the house and this would cause her to run an “investigation” of her own, one which would prove to cause lots of issues and involve lies.
6. Wrongful Arrests
A month after Holloway disappeared, two security guards were suddenly arrested on suspicion of assaulting and murdering the missing girl. Van der Sloot mentioned a security guard in his statement and other locals said the two security guards liked to pick up women at bars.
The two suspects were released soon after because there was no real evidence connecting them to the murder of Holloway. It seemed like the police got distracted and wasted time on the wrong people. That wasn’t the last time the authorities got distracted and acted out of desperation by arresting anyone they thought was linked to the disappearance.
7. Disc Jockey Suspect
A party disc jockey, Steve Gregory Croes, was taken into custody briefly after Natalee Holloway’s disappearance. In fact, Paulus Van der Sloot, a high-ranking judicial officer and Joran’s father was also arrested. Both were released around the same time because there was not enough evidence to hold either of them.
Croes was a DJ on the party boat Tattoo, which provides nightly dancing, parties, dining, and swimming. The boat docked near the Holiday Inn hotel where Holloway stayed during her visit to Aruba. Once he was released, Croes didn’t speak to any reporters and avoided the spotlight for a while. Obviously, things didn’t end there.
8. Ignorance is Bliss
Holloway’s friends told Beth that her daughter possessed illegal drugs, but she instructed them not to disclose that to the police. She asserted there was no way her daughter could have been so drunk and insisted that rumors of her taking drugs had to be false. The hotel staff reported that they never saw Holloway without a drink in her hand. Her drinking began early in the morning and did not let up the entire day; she even missed breakfasts because she was hungover. Claire and Liz, her two friends, confirmed this.
The FBI speculated that Holloway could have suffered from a drug or alcohol overdose, but her family remained adamant that Holloway didn’t take any illegal drugs. The Aruban police had already spent close to three million dollars on the search for the missing girl and frustration was mounting. The FBI’s speculation should have been taken seriously, as everyone would find out years later. Beth was quick to blame the police for ruining her daughter’s reputation, but she withheld information that could have been crucial for the case.
9. False Alarm
During the investigation, two unknown witnesses came forward with supposedly pressing evidence to solve the case. Nothing was happening with Van der Sloot and some people probably felt they had to step up.
One person claimed to spot some men burying a woman’s body in a landfill while jogging by the area. The second witness, a local gardener, said he saw Van der Sloot between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. leaving the Marriott Hotel. Both areas were scoured by the police, but alas, nothing was found.
10. Bizarre Similarities: The Case of Robyn Gardner
Holloway became both a point of reference and contention on the island of Aruba. Anything that happened on the island afterwards would somehow be connected to her, like the case of Robyn Colson-Gardner who went missing in August, 2011. The strange part is the girls even looked similar, except Gardener had tattoos.
The gist of the case is that Gardner was buried alive in a dog’s grave dup up by her lover, Gary Giordano, whom she met on Adult Friend Finder. He taped a plastic bag over her head after he dug up a fresh dog’s grave, removed the dog’s body, widened the hole, and put her in it. She started moaning after which he placed the dog’s body above hers and filled the hole. Giordano denied any wrongdoing and said she floated away while snorkeling on the island. The lovers were last seen leaving the Rum Reef & Grill restaurant. Giordano spent four months in jail, but was released because there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. Was Natalee’s fate any similar to Gardner’s?
11. All Hopes Dashed
Van der Sloot’s car was taken in by authorities to check for evidence. The police found blood on the back seat, but they declared that it wasn’t a lead so let it go. After the high school student and his friends were released from custody the first time, their phones were tapped and emails hacked. They remained suspects during the whole investigation, but things would just get worse for everyone from this point on.
On June 9, 2005, the police announced that there was no hope in finding Holloway. They confirmed there was no hope in finding her alive according to all the collected evidence. The minister of justice in Aruba made things even worse when he confirmed that she was dead, but was forced to take this statement back a few days later.
12. Natalee’s Mother Continues to Intervene
Beth didn’t believe Van der Sloot’s accounts and asked the hotel staff to watch the surveillance camera recordings of the night her daughter went missing. Everyone gave different accounts of what they saw.
Beth’s theory was that the cameras weren’t working properly the night she arrived, which meant they didn’t work the night Natalee went missing. At one point she changed her account and admitted there was no footage of Natalee returning to the hotel. She also stated that a lack of footage of her daughter’s return didn’t mean Natalee didn’t come back that night. Again, this wasn’t the last time she would stir things up.
13. Why Wasn’t This Mentioned Before?
In August, 2017, a woman named Jessica Caiola came forward for the first time with new evidence that was never mentioned before. She was one of the high school students on the trip and spent the last night with Holloway. In an interview with the Oxygen channel for a series about Natalee Holloway’s disappearance, she said the two girls left the Carlos’n Charlie’s together in the hopes of catching a shuttle to the hotel.
She recalls that it was while stopping to get some street food that suddenly she looked up and Holloway was driving away in a white Honda. The window was down so she could see it was her. She didn’t think much of it other than Holloway must have found a ride back to the hotel. Caiola didn’t mention who else was in the car, but she did say she saw Van der Sloot the same night and during the week at the hotel’s casino. So why was she the only one who saw Holloway get into the car? Caiola would also mention other vital information during her interview.
14. More Inconsistencies
After police believed Holloway to be dead, they became desperate to arrest anyone they suspected to be connected to the case. Van der Sloot, Deepak and Satish were taken into custody again. The Surinamese brothers changed their statements again. The brothers said they went home after leaving Van der Sloot with Holloway at the beach.
Van der Sloot maintained his story and said he did nothing to hurt her that night. He was kept in custody for two months, but nothing tangible linking him to the murder was found. The judge told him to remain available in case the law enforcement had more questions. This, however, wasn’t the end to his troubles; not by any measure.
15. He Was Around Before the Fateful Night
Jessica Caiola mentioned another crucial point about the Holloway case during her interview with Oxygen. She was the first witness to mention that she saw Van der Sloot several times during the four-day trip. He frequently hung around the group of high school graduates; not only at the bar on the last night.
“I remember seeing Joran Van der Sloot at the casino at our hotel. That was the first time I saw him and I remember chatter of him,” Caiola said. She heard some banter on the lines of “He’s so cute,” and “Who’s going to hook up with him?” She went on to say: “That was probably the extent to which I got close to him. I don’t even remember if Natalee was with him at that point, or if any of us were necessarily with him.” What Caiola does remember for sure is that he was there several times during the trip, and she believes he was at the casino on the third or last or last night. There was more though.
16. Bad News for Van der Sloot
Accordin to Caiola, she is 100% sure Van der Sloot was at the bar the night Holloway vanished. “He was absolutely at Carlos’n Charlie’s, 1000 percent,” she declared. She said that her and Holloway were talking and interacting throughout the night at the bar. They were having a good time, so Caiola was aware of Holloway most of the time.
She told Oxygen that the FBI contacted her a few times over the years following Holloway’s disappearance to recount what happened that night, but none of this was made public until recently. She wasn’t the only one to wait for an interview to spill the beans, however.
17. Playing with Fire
After Van der Sloot was released from jail on no grounds of evidence, the press went crazy. Fox News interviewed him and he nonchalantly mentioned really incriminating information that never came up once with the police.
Van der Sloot claimed that Holloway wanted to sleep with him, but he declined the offer because he didn’t have condoms with him. He insisted that he was the one who wanted to go home because he had school in the morning, so he called Satish to pick him up. This didn’t match up with Satish’s statement. His friend said he left Van der Sloot and Holloway at the beach after which he went home to sleep.
18. Putting Pen to Paper
In 2007, Van der Sloot decided to put pen to paper in a detailed account of what happened the night Holloway vanished. The book, The Case of Natalee Holloway: My Own Story about her Disappearance in Aruba, goes into depth about how he met the American teen. In the book, he admits that he lied to the police and apologizes to Holloway’s parents, but maintains his innocence.
This prompted the police to search his residence. They dug up his yard to search for traces of Holloway’s body, confiscated his computers, and perused his journals. Still, nothing came up to convict this boy of the murder. The three boys were taken into custody for extensive questions, but no new evidence was garnered. Two and a half years had passed; Holloway’s case was officially closed. Or was it?
19. “Peter” Pulls Out All the Stops
After the case of Natalee Holloway was officially closed, a man stepped forward with what seemed to be solid, convincing evidence to implicate Van der Sloot. The main claimed he had a video recording with a confession from the high school student.
“Peter” showed the police footage displaying the suspect smoking pot with a friend while sitting in a car. In the video Van der Sloot claims that Holloway died despite his efforts to revive her. He said he couldn’t save the American teen so called his friends to help him get rid of the body. The bizarre part of all of this is that the court did not believe the video was enough to detain the boy again. Once again, Van der Sloot got off scot-free, but not for much longer.
20. Talk is Cheap
For the next two years, Van der Sloot continued to make statements to the public about the Holloway case and his involvement with her disappearance. On November 24, 2008, he told “On the Record” that he sold Holloway off into sexual slavery to a man in Venezuela.
Van der Sloot said he received money when he handed over Holloway and later on to make sure he kept quiet. He alleged that he paid the Kalpoe brothers for their help. He also said that his father was aware of everything he had done to Holloway. He told people that his father Paulus, who was training to be a judge, had gone as far as bribing the police in Aruba to put a stop to the investigation. These interviews and recordings were later discounted by him as false.
21. Beth At It Again
Beth refused to give up on her daughter’s case. She has done several press interviews and written a book called Loving Natalee: A Mother’s Testament of Hope and Faith, detailing what she’s been through and what she thinks happened the night her daughter went missing. She claimed that the Aruban police ignored Van der Sloot’s statements in which he admitted to hurt Natalee.
Beth also told multiple media outlets that Van der Sloot gave intimate details about the sexual encounter he had with her missing daughter. She’s been an advocate of boycotting Aruba and other islands under Dutch dominion, despite the locals being good to her and giving her a free room during her search there. She’s also come under fire for focusing too much on the three boys when she could have been more open to other theories, jeopardizing the entire case. But things were far from over.
22. Lies and Extortion
Five years after the Holloway case was put to rest, Joran Van der Sloot contacted the missing girl’s family. He said he would tell them where her body is and how she died if they gave him 25 thousand dollars. When the family heard this, they immediately contacted the law enforcement authorizes. According to his mother, this boy was an accomplished liar who liked to fabricate stories on a regular basis. She said had a gambling problem, a bad temper, and would sneak up to get to no good. Could anything he said be trusted?
The FBI made a monitored wire transfer of 15 thousand dollars to Van der Sloot’s bank account in the Netherlands and tapped his phones before the search for the body began. Holloway’s body wasn’t found at the spot. Van der Sloot took the money and left for Peru where the police would arrest him soon after, but for a completely different reason.
23. Cold-Blooded Murderer
In May, 2010, Van der Sloot was arrested and convicted for the murder of a young business student in Peru. Stephany Flores Ramírez’s body was found in the hotel room he booked during his stay in the country.
He was arrested in Chile and extradited to Peru where he was put in custody, tried, and convicted of the murder on January 13, 2012. If he could murder this student, he was surely a violent person and capable of murdering Holloway. However, the shocking part of the case wasn’t only that he murdered another girl. What did Van der Sloot say or do to make things even harder to believe?
24. A Confession?
When Van der Sloot was tried for the murder of Ramírez, he confessed to murdering her exactly five years to the day of Holloway’s disapperance. He told the Peruvian police that she was snooping around on his computer searching for information on him and his connection to the Holloway case. He said he panicked, killed her, and fled the scene.
Moreover, he offered to tell the Peruvian authorities where they could locate Holloway’s body, to which they replied that they weren’t interested in that case; the only thing that mattered to them was information about the student he murdered in Peru. He is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence. He was also charged for fraud and extortion of the Holloways. As for his friends, Deepak and Satish, they continue to live and work in Aruba, and yet a whole lot more went wrong with the case.
25. Then Along Came Jurrien
Ten years after the investigation was closed, another alleged witness came forward. A man by the name of Jurie De Jong, a 59-year-old Dutch man, told Inside Edition that he witnessed Van der Sloot chase Holloway into a small building that was under construction.
He claimed that he saw Van der Sloot emerge from the building with the girl in his arms, slammed her body on the floor, and then made an opening in a crawl space. He said he knew she was dead at that point and told a dutch newspaper that Holloway was buried there. Then, De Jong’s story got even more bizarre.
26. One Crazy Person After the Next
De Jong claims that he couldn’t come forward with any information because he was involved in illegal activities during that time. He said the only reason he came forward was because he saw a TV report in which Van der Sloot accused De Jong of covering up the crime and burying Holloway at sea.
De Jong’s testimony didn’t add up because the construction building he referred to wasn’t underway at the time of the disappearance. The man flew back to Aruba 10 times to give different testimonies and anonymous messages to investigators. A twitter account registered under his name shows 19 tweets about the case and he circulated an online petition for prosecutors to look into the case. De Jong even contacted Natalee’s father, David Holloway telling him he smelt decay by the Marriott hotel. Some other people also seemed to have theories about what happened; some more believable than ones like this.
27. Jessica Caiola’s Theory
Natalee’s friend, Jessica Caiola also told Oxygen that she mentioned her theory to the FBI when they repeatedly contacted her about the final night in Aruba. She believes Van der Sloot killed her friend, but she is not certain when it happened.
Caiola ‘s theory is that it most likely took place after Holloway was reported missing. “I thought she was still alive and she had been sold or traded–something of that nature–and we could find her,” she explained. She said they weren’t close friends and only really spent time together at the club. For Caiola, it seemed like fate or something that they finally connected, and she even had pictures to prove it.
28. A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words
Caiola assumes she is the last person to have taken pictures of Holloway the night she slipped off the face of the planet. The photos show Holloway dancing, smiling, and having a great time with the group of high school graduates.
“I never took a photo of Natalee before that night,” she emphasized. She spoke about two final photos she took of Holloway. Caiola described the picture: “This is a picture in which Natalee is standing on the left side of the picture and she’s talking to a boy. I’m not able to identify who the boy is because his back is turned. So you just see Natalee talking to a boy on a stage.” But why did she even take this photo?
29. Must Have Been Fate
When Caiola was asked why she took the photos she answered, “I took it because everyone was on the stage and it was hilarious and awesome and everyone was having an amazing time. There’s one of my friends wearing a sombrero… I just remember being like I want to remember this moment, I want to capture this and I want to remember us all together in Aruba before we all go our separate ways.”
Caiola added that she finds it fascinating that before that night she hadn’t taken any photos of Holloway. “So I definitely think that that night was something – that I wanted to be around her,” she reminisced. She said there was one special photo that was taken before they went to Carlos’n Charlies; it was of Holloway at the hotel wearing “her same blue jean skirt and that green teal shirt,” Caiola sadly recalls.
30. Oblivious to the Danger
When Holloway didn’t report in that morning to leave for the flight to Alabama, the chaperones that went with on the trip to oversee the high school graduates searched her room. They found her belongings, clothes, and passport neatly packed on the bed that clearly hadn’t been slept in.
None of Holloway’s friends or roommates noticed that she didn’t come in the night before. Some thought that she must have had a good time with the boy she left the club with the night before, while others weren’t even aware of what happened, and therefore nothing was reported to the adults. In fact, her friends laughed at first because they assumed she had overslept or was hungover. Some of the students assumed she was still out having fun and would return soon.
31. Daddy Dearest: Paulus Van der Sloot
Joran Van der Sloot’s father, Paulus, held a position in the Ministry of Justice and handled all the complaints against the police. The public are of the opinion that because of this man’s connection to the police, the police force investigated Holloway’s case halfheartedly.
Jossy Mansur, owner and editor of an Aruban magazine called Diario, believes that Paulus’s connection with the police seriously hampered the development of the case. Mansur also thinks that Paulus changed the reports transcribed from recorded interviews to cover up for his son. He knows this because he has copies of all the documents. He also alleges that the police destroyed the documents instead of being filed away or taken to court.
32. A New Witness Emerges
With all the strange and conflicting evidence floating around, Holloway’s father refused to just accept that his daughter was legally dead in absentia. He wanted to continue the investigation, so 12 years after she went missing he hired a private investigator, a man names T.J. Ward. The objective was to seek new evidence and dig up a new lead, but first the investigator had to go through every known piece of evidence to date.
One day, a new witness came forward by the name of Gabriel who said he had new information about the missing Holloway. Ward believed that Gabriel could form an important piece of the puzzle because this man was friends with Van der Sloot at the time of Holloway’s disappearance. Perhaps this man had new information about the girl’s fate. It took a long 18 months, but Gabriel finally led them to a solid piece of evidence. What Gabriel had to say might turn out to be the ultimate lead to solve the mystery.
33. Cracking the Case?
In 2005, the year Holloway went missing, Gabriel and Van der Sloot were roommates. Van der Sloot told Gabriel that he tried to kiss Holloway after he roofied her drink with the date rape drug, GHB. He proceeded to tell him that she started foaming from the mouth a while later and then chocked to death on her own vomit. He explained that he panicked and called his father, Paulus.
Van der Sloot confessed to his best friend John Ludwick, who then repeated the story to Gabriel, that he and his father cut off Holloway’s legs and placed her in a burlap sack in order to bury her in a park. They even buried her under a cactus to eliminate any suspicion. On August 16, 2017, Gabriel led Holloway’s father and Ward to the park where they found remains, which were confirmed to belong to a human. Will these DNA remains match Holloway? The test will soon conclude that answer for all of us…
34. Van der Sloot Keeps Busy
While Van der Sloot has been serving his prison sentence in Peru, he somehow made the acquaintance of a Peruvian woman, Leydi Figueroa Uceda. They married in 2014. The two supposedly met while she was visiting a relative of hers in the jail. They got married in jail and she became pregnant with their daughter.
That same year, Van der Sloot stabbed himself. He told the prison guards that he was attacked by other prisoners. The Chief of the prison stated that Van der Sloot was just looking for more publicity so he stabbed himself on purpose. To make things even weirder, his wife even snuggled his bloody shirt out of prison to show the media.
35. What’s Up with Dutch Caribbean Islands?
It turns out Holloway and Gardener weren’t the only women to go missing in the Dutch Caribbean. On March 21, 1998, Amy Lynn Bradley and her family boarded the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship for a week-long cruise to Curaçao. When the shipped docked in Curaçao, Bradley was discovered missing and was never found even after extensive searches.
Bradley was a trained lifeguard so falling overboard and suicide were ruled out. There have also been several sightings of her. The first was in 1998 when tourists said they saw a woman resembling her on the beach. In 1999, a member of the U.S. Navy claimed he saw a woman in a brothel who asked for help. There was also a potential sighting of her in 2005 at a department store in Barbados. The general consensus is that she was sold into sexual slavery, so her family has offered a $250,000 reward for any leads on her.
36. Too Many People Missing
Natalee Holloway, Robyn Gardner, and Amy Lynn Bradley aren’t the only reported missing persons on the Caribbean island of Aruba and other Dutch territories. The website visitaruba.com provides all the information about missing persons from Aruba or about people who went missing during vacation in Aruba or the Caribbean.
Other missing people are: Jose Manuel Vicenzo Tromp, Gary Makings, and Family Labouvic. Information and the latest news about these people can be found on this website. Did they share Natalee Holloway’s unfortunate fate?
Sometimes people tend to forget that there are human behind this sensationalist story, and the money to be made is off the back of grieving families and dead people. “Natalee Holloway” is an American film released in 2009 about Holloway’s disappearance.
Directed by Mikael Salomon, the movie stars Amy Gumenick as Natalee Holloway, Tracy Pollan as Beth Holloway Twitty, and Jacques Strydom as Joran Van der Sloot. It aired on April 19, 2009 on the “Lifetime Movie Network” and scored the highest television ratings in the network’s history during that time.
38. Another Rendition
On May 9, 2011, a follow-up television film called “Justice for Natalee Holloway” aired with Polland and Gumerick reprising their roles and Stephen Amell taking on the role of Joran Van der Sloot.
The sequel film was also aired by “Lifetime Movie Network.” It takes place five years after the disappearance in 2005 and portrays Beth’s collaboration with the FBI to solve the case and bring Van der Sloot to justice.
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