Natalee Holloway was 18 when she vanished while on a graduation trip to Aruba in 2005. Her remains have never been found.
Natalee was born on October 21, 1986 in Memphis, TN. Her parents are Dave and Elizabeth “Beth” Holloway.
Her parents divorced in 1993, and she and her younger brother Matthew were raised by their mother.
In 2000, Beth married George “Jug” Twitty, a prominent Alabama businessman, and the family moved to Mountain Brook, Alabama.
Natalee graduated with honors in May 2005 from Mountain Brook High School, located in Birmingham, Alabama. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the school dance squad.
Natalee had plans to attend the University of Alabama on a full scholarship. She planned to pursue a pre-med track.
Aruba with 124 other Mountain Brook High graduates. They were starting an unofficial graduation trip. The teenagers were accompanied by seven chaperones.
Just as some background for anyone unfamiliar with Aruba, it is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands physically located in the mid-south of the Caribbean Sea, about 29 kilometres (18 mi) north of the Venezuelan peninsula of Paraguaná and 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Curaçao. The population is currently around 106k. The climate is relatively warm and sunny all year round.
The group were staying at the Holiday Inn.
Police Commissioner Gerold Dompig, who headed the investigation from mid-2005 until 2006, stated that the Mountain Brook students engaged in “wild partying, a lot of drinking, lots of room switching every night. We know the Holiday Inn told them they weren’t welcome next year. Natalee, we know, she drank all day every day. We have statements she started every morning with cocktails—so much drinking that Natalee didn’t show up for breakfast two mornings.”
Two of Natalee’s classmates would later say that the trip was “kind of excessive”.
(To be clear, we aren’t victim shaming, just stating the circumstances leading up to Natalee’s disappearance. The legal drinking age in Aruba is 18, so she wasn’t doing anything illegal.)
Natalee was last seen by her classmates on Monday May 30, 2005 at 1.30am. She was last seen leaving the Oranjestad bar and nightclub Carlos’n Charlie’s with Joran van der Sloot who was 17, as well as two of Joran’s friends, brothers 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe and 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe.
Natalee was scheduled to fly home later that day. She had already packed her luggage and her passport was in her hotel room.
When Natalee did not return to the hotel, her friends contacted Beth. Beth and Dave and some of their friends chartered a private plane that same day and flew to Aruba.
Four hours after they arrived on the island, Beth and Dave had found out the name and address for Joran and they took the details to the police. Beth stated that Joran’s full name was given to her by the night manager at the Holiday Inn, who supposedly recognized him on a videotape.
The Twitty’s and their friends went with police to Joran’s house to search for Natalee. Joran initially denied knowing her name. He said that he and his friends took Natalee to the California Lighthouse area of Arashi Beach because she wanted to see sharks. He said they dropped her off at the Holiday Inn at around 2am.
Joran said that Natalee fell as she got out of the car and she refused his help. He said she stumbled a second time and was helped by a “dark-colored” man wearing a black T-shirt and carrying a radio.
There are varying reports regarding CCTV at the Holiday Inn. Some reports say that the cameras were not working and others say that Natalee was not seen on the footage.
A huge search started on the island for Natalee. During the first days of the search, the Aruban government gave thousands of civil servants the day off to participate in the rescue effort.
Aruban banks raised $20,000 and provided other support to aid volunteer search teams.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force used three aircraft in the search. They also used satellite photos and compared them with recent photos of the area in an attempt to find any grave site.
The first arrests in Natalee’s case came on June 5, 2005.
Police detained Nick John and Abraham Jones, former security guards from the nearby Allegro hotel on suspicion of murder and kidnapping. The two men were apparently known for going to different hotels to pick up women. The evidence against them has never been made public, but the main source is believed to have been statements made by Joran and the Kalpoe brothers.
Nick and Abraham were released without charge on June 13.
On June 9, Joran and the Kalpoe brothers were arrested on suspicion of the kidnapping and murder of Natalee. Aruban law allows for investigators to make an arrest based on serious suspicion.
The case got very messy over the years. David Cruz — spokesman for the Aruban Minister of Justice — falsely indicated on June 11, 2005 that Natalee was dead and that authorities knew the location of her body. He later retracted his statement and said that he had been the victim of a “misinformation campaign”
On June 17, a sixth person later identified as DJ Steve Gregory Croes was also arrested. The media was told that “Croes was detained based on information from one of the other three detainees.”
On June 22, 2005, Aruban police detained Joran’s father, Paulus van der Sloot, for questioning; he was arrested that same day. Both Steve and Paulus were ordered to be released on June 26.
This might be a good time to quickly chat about Joran’s background. We believe he comes from a fairly wealthy family. He was born on August 6, 1987 to Paulus van der Sloot, a lawyer, and Anita van der Sloot-Hugen, an art teacher.
In 1990, his family moved from the Dutch city Arnhem to Aruba, where he was an honor student at the International School of Aruba.
Joran was said to be a star soccer and tennis athlete at the school, competing in doubles tennis with his father at the Moët et Chandon Anniversary Cup in 2005 and hoped to play for Saint Leo University.
Around this time, Joran and the brothers changed their stories. They now said that Natalee and Joran were dropped off at a beach near the Mariott Hotel. Joran said he did not hurt Natalee but he did leave her alone on the beach.
Joran gave another story around this time of being dropped off at his home and Natalee was then driven off by the Kalpoe brothers.
The group appeared in court and the Kalpoe brothers were released on July 4, but Joran was held for an additional 60 days.
Natalee’s family first offered $175,000 as a reward for her safe return and donors added another $50,000 on top of that. By the two month mark after her disappearance, the reward was at $1m for her safe return, with a $100,000 reward being offered for anyone who could locate her remains. The reward for her remains would reach $250k by August 2005.
On August 26, 2005, the Kalpoe brothers were re-arrested, along with a new suspect – Freddy Arambatzis (21). There doesn’t seem to be much that ties Freddy to Natalee. His lawyer said he was suspected of taking photos of an underage girl and also having physical contact with the same person.
On September 3, 2005, all four suspects, Joran, Freddy and the Kalpoes, were released on the condition that they remained available to the police. By September 14, all restrictions on them were removed.
After this, Joran started talking to the media. He gave an interview to Fox News in March 2006. He told that agency that Natalee wanted to have sex with him, but he didn’t because he did not have a condom. He also said that Natalee wanted him to stay on the beach with her but he left because he had to goto school in the morning.
He said that Satish Kalpoe picked him up at 3am and he left Natalee on the beach.
Joran said that he was ashamed to have left her alone on the beach and that he lied at first because he was convinced that Natalee would turn up safely.
Police Commissioner Gerold Dompig would end up leaving the case. Before he did, he gave an interview to CBS and said that he did not believe Natalee was murdered, but that she died from alcohol and/or drug poisoning.
“We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all the alcohol — maybe on top of that, other drugs, which either she took or they gave her — and that she … just collapsed,” he said.
He said that Aruba had spent 40% of their police budget on her case. He also said there was evidence that Natalee had drugs in her possession.
In 2006, at Aruba’s request, the Netherlands took over the investigation. A team of Dutch police started on the case in September 2006.
In April 2007, Joran wrote a book titled De zaak Natalee Holloway (The Case of Natalee Holloway). He apologised for his initial lies in the book but maintained his innocence.
In the same year and month, a new search involving 20 investigators was started at Joran’s residence in Aruba.
According to Paulus, Joran’s father, “nothing suspicious” was found, and all that was seized were diary entries of him and his wife, and his personal computer—which was subsequently returned.
The Kalpoe’s had their family residence searched in May 2007.
On November 21, 2007, Joran and the Kalpoe brothers were rearrested, this time on suspicion of manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm that resulted in Natalee’s death.
A week later, on November 30, the Kalpoe brothers were released. Joran was then released on December 7.
On December 18, prosecutor Hans Mos officially declared the case closed, and that no charges would be filed due to lack of evidence.
On January 31, 2008, a Dutch crime reporter named Peter R de Vries claimed that he had solved Natalee’s case. He said that Joran had confessed. There was hidden camera footage of Joran who was smoking weed and said that he was with Natalee when she started seizing and she became unresponsive. Joran said that he attempted unsuccessfully to revive her and then disposed of her body.
Joran later said that he was telling the media what they wanted to hear and he still denied any involvement in her being missing. That same day, the Aruba Prosecutor’s Office announced that they were reopening the case.
Joran met with Aruban police on February 8 and said that he was high at the time of the videos and he reiterated that he had left Natalee alone and alive on the beach.
On November 24, 2008, Joran spoke to Fox News and this time he gave another different story. He said that he had sold Natalee into sexual slavery. He said that his father Paulus had paid off two police officers who had learned about the situation.
Fox News aired some audio said to be of Joran and his father in which they discuss Joran’s involvement in trafficking.
In 2010, an American couple in Aruba were snorkelling and diving when they saw what they thought were human remains.
Aruban authorities sent divers to investigate, but no remains were ever recovered.
On March 29, 2010, Joran contacted Beth Holloway’s lawyer John Q Kelly, and offered to reveal the location of Natalee and to tell all regarding her death, if he was given $250k.
Kelly told the FBI and they agreed to proceed with the deal, with the money to be paid in instalments. Joran had $15k wired to him on May 10, and he also had $10k in cash delivered to him in Aruba.
Joran told the family that Natalee’s remains were buried in a house. This was untrue and it was proven that the house was not even built at the time that Natalee vanished. When he was called out on the inconsistency, Joran admitted that he had lied.
On June 3, Joran was charged in the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama with extortion and wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance obtained an arrest warrant and transmitted it to Interpol.
On June 30, 2010, Joran was indicted on the charges.
Just to backtrack a bit, on May 30, 2010, five years to the day after Natalee’s vanished, a 21 year old woman named Stephany Flores Ramírez was reported missing in Lima, Peru.
She had told her family that she was going to attend a poker tournament and would be home after that.
“My father called me and said Stephany didn’t come home, help me,” Stephany’s older brother Enrique Flores told CNN. “So I went to the house and we started calling all the numbers of my sister’s friends that I had and we called the police.”
Police looked at CCTV from the hotel where the poker tournament had been held and they found footage of Stephany sitting next to Joran van der Sloot.
“At first, it was a relief because I saw her and that gave me hope,” Enrique Flores said. “The people at the hotel told us, ‘Yeah, she was with this guy. He seemed nice. He looked like Brad Pitt.’”
Hotel videotape shows Joran and Stephany entering a room together May 30 at 5:16 a.m. local time. Three hours and 20 minutes later, Joran left the hotel by himself carrying a backpack, telling the hotel staff not to bother “his girl,” police said.
When police searched Joran’s hotel room three days later, they found Stephany’s lifeless and battered body. Police said that she had been beaten to death with a tennis racquet.
An autopsy found that Stephany did not have sexual intercourse before her death, and that she was not under the influence of enough alcohol to prevent her from resisting an attack. She suffered blunt-force trauma to her head, which caused a brain hemorrhage, cranial fracture, and broken neck. She also suffered significant injuries to her face and showed signs of asphyxiation. Amphetamines were found in her system but the autopsy did not indicate if she took the drugs willingly or not.
Joran was arrested on June 3 in Chile and he was extradited to Peru on a murder charge.
On June 7, he told Peruvian police that he killed Stephany because she accessed his laptop without his permission and found info that linked him to Natalee.
When police later searched Joran’s laptop, they found searches including “Relationship between the Peruvian and Chilean police”, “Chilean border pass”, “buses in Chile”, and “countries that do not extradite in Latin America”
Joran was charged with first degree murder and robbery in Stephany’s case on June 11, 2010.
At this time, Joran again told officials that he knew where Natalee’s body was and that he would help Aruban police to find her. Aruban and Peruvian authorities announced that they were working together to try to get more information about Natalee.
It didn’t take Joran long to renege again, and in September 2010, he spoke about his extortion plot against the Holloway family. “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family—her parents have been making my life tough for five years.”
Joran’s mother Anna spoke to the media in 2010. “I believe in karma, I believe that very strongly. I believe that if you do things that you shouldn’t do, that a lot of shit happens to you,” she said. “He didn’t want to listen to his parents. He didn’t listen to me, this last time. I tried to do my best. I don’t think I could have done more. He’s considered an adult right now. He has to do whatever he needs to do, and that is tell the truth (about) what happened.” — Anita v.d. Sloot-Hugen
On January 11, 2012, Joran pleaded guilty to Stephany’s murder and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
Six years after Natalee disappeared, in June 2011, her father Dave filed a petition in court to have her legally declared dead. Beth announced that she was going to oppose the petition.
Two hearings were held in 2011 and 2012, and at the final one, Judge King signed the order declaring Natalee to be dead.
On 4 July 2014, Joran married a Peruvian woman named Leidy Figueroa, whom he met while she was selling goods inside the prison. She was seven months pregnant with his child at the time.
On 28 September 2014, Leidy gave birth to a daughter, Dusha Trudie Van der Sloot in Peru.
After they got married, Leidy spoke to the media and said that Joran was “gentle, sensitive, kind” and “no monster.”
Joran wrote Leidy a letter, offering to buy her “your own house, better say our house.”
In 2016, Dave Holloway hired a PI to look through all of the evidence in the case. This PI found an informant named Gabriel. Gabriel said that he had been roommates with one of Joran’s close friends, John Ludwick. John apparently told Gabriel what had happened to Natalee.
Gabriel spoke to Oxygen about what allegedly happened. He said that John apparently helped Joran dig Natalee up and they smashed and cremated her bones in 2010. He said that Joran paid him $1,500 to help and that they mixed up Natalee’s remains with dog bones. Joran then paid a crematorium worker $200 to let them cremate the ‘dog remains’.
Oxygen documentary: Natalee’s mother sued Oxygen for 35 million dollars. She says the series was “a pre-planned farce” and a “hoax.”
There is so much wtf in this story. In another instance of it, in 2018, John was killed while he was attempting to kidnap a woman.
This info about the incident is from the Independent:
North Port Police spokesman Josh Taylor told WFLA: “As she’s getting out of the car, there he is. He wanted the keys to her car. What he had plans for after that is yet to be determined but it was certainly a very scary situation.”
Mr Taylor, however, revealed that the woman fought back, grabbing Ludwick’s knife and stabbing him several times. Ludwick ran off, bleeding heavily, but was found a few blocks away and later died.
Mr Taylor said the woman would face no charges.
“From every ounce of evidence we have so far,” said Mr Taylor, “She was a victim in this case.
In January 2023, Joran had 18 years added on to his sentence after he trafficked cocaine in prison.
The trafficking happened in August 2020. Joran set up an operation inside the prison where a family member of another prisoner used sugar beets to smuggle cocaine into the prison.
Joran proceeded to deal the cocaine inside the prison, as well as setting up a trafficking network by forwarding packages of cocaine from the prison to other destinations abroad. He was eventually found out by prison officials.
This info about the Peruvian prison system is from CNN:
“Because Peruvian law prohibits prison sentences from exceeding a total of 35 years (unless given a life sentence), the Defendant is currently scheduled for release from prison in Peru on or about June 10, 2045 (35 years after his original arrest in Peru),” the court document states.
In March 2023, it was revealed that Joran had filed for divorce from Leidy. According to his attorney, Joran was now seeing a woman called Eva Pacohuanaco, a “prettier and younger” girlfriend who was once accused of smuggling him drugs.
On June 8, 2023, Joran was extradited from Peru to the USA. He was taken to Birmingham, Alabama where he was arraigned in federal court on one count of extortion and one count of wire fraud against Beth Holloway. Joran pleaded not guilty to each charge. These charges are for the extortion that we discussed previously, from 2010.
On October 18, 2023, Joran confessed again to killing Natalee. He gave details this time about how he allegedly did it.
We have had lots of comments after posting the info on our insta, from people who don’t believe Joran. Beth, Natalee’s mother does seem to believe him though.
“It’s over. Joran van der Sloot is no longer the suspect in my daughter’s murder. He is the killer,” Beth said.
“After 18 years, Natalee’s case is solved,” she said. “He gave a proffer in which he finally confessed to killing Natalee.”
A proffer is when a defendant offers information about a crime, often part as a plea deal.
This info about the proffer session is from AL.com
The proffer session took place at the Shelby County Jail where he’s been housed since he’s been here in Alabama.
The setting was a conference room.
On the government side, you had the case agents from Birmingham and Miami, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and on the defense side, van der Sloot had two of his attorneys from Alabama and he also had Dutch attorney’s there representing him for that proffer.
The proffer lasted just over three hours with a couple of short breaks in there. As far as his demeanor, I would say it was a professional business setting and both parties came in there understanding what the goal of the day was, which was for him to share the narrative of 2005 and 2010 with us.
It was a business-like approach.
Joran spoke in court about finding God.. “I am not the same kind of person today as I was then, I have given my heart to Jesus Christ,” he said.
Natalee’s younger sister, Kaitlyn, told The New York Post that she is not convinced that Joran has changed.
“He is a monster and even laying eyes on him made me feel sick inside,” she said. “He did apologize, and he said something along the lines that he gave himself to God and that he’s a Christian — that he’s a changed man. I really don’t think that’s true. I don’t think it was a sincere apology considering all the damage he has done. I think it was some BS.”
Nataliee’s brother, Matt Holloway, told Court TV that he, too, was not convinced.
“He’s been such a liar. This, the past, his whole life. That’s all he is, is just a psychopathic liar. So I take it, I take it lightly,” Matt Holloway said.
Natalee’s father, Dave, called Joran “evil personified in a victim impact statement.
“Despite everything he has done to us, he is not sorry for what he did” he said. “He expressed no remorse, regret, or even compassion … He is evil personified.”
In the AL.com article we mentioned earlier, the FBI were interviewed about Joran’s confession.
Are you confident he told the truth?
Part of that proffer was ensuring that he satisfied the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Holloway family. And by the time we left that proffer, we were pretty satisfied that we had received the information that we needed to receive for that proffer to be executed.
We are confident that the information he provided in the proffer was truthful.
US federal Judge Anna Manasco to sentence van der Sloot to 20 years for the extortion and wire fraud charges.
“I have considered your confession to the brutal murder of Natalee Holloway,” Manasco said Wednesday.
“You have brutally murdered, in separate incidents years apart, two beautiful women who refused your sexual advances.”
Joran’s 20-year US federal sentence will be served concurrently with his sentence in Peru. Basically, he will likely not return to the US to serve any prison time.
After Joran’s latest confession, the Aruba Public Prosecutor’s Office has not ruled out that he could face more legal action.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office will reiterate once more that the Holloway case remains an open investigation in Aruba,” spokesperson Ann Angela told CNN in an email.
Aruban authorities “have requested the U.S. Department of Justice for official court documents and transcripts and all documents related to the investigation, which we will review before deciding on the procedural steps to be taken.”
In Aruba, the statute of limitations for homicide has been 12 years. When asked whether or why the statute of limitations might not apply to van der Sloot, the spokesperson said the question “cannot be answered unequivocally.”
“It depends on several factors within the investigation,” Angela said Thursday. “Bear in mind also that we don’t know yet what is in the official court documents and documents related to the investigation. Therefore there is no simple yes or no at this moment.”