Holloway case: 'full confession' on television
He had billed it as "the most interesting and revealing crime show" of his career and it was sold to US networks before it was broadcast on Dutch television. In a gripping two-hour whodunit, crime reporter Peter R. de Vries reconstructed in detail what happened on that fateful night on a sandy Caribbean beach in mid-2005. By Theo Tamis
On the beach...she wasn't ticking anymore. So I went to a phone booth and called this friend. [...] He went into the sea and dumped her."
- Suspect Joran van der Sloot
De Vries took his viewers to Aruba where, on 30 May 2005, US teenager Natalee Holloway was celebrating the final night of her high school graduation trip to the island.
She met a 17-year-old Dutch student, Joran van der Sloot, in the casino of her hotel. He and his friends drove her to a beach late at night. The friends said goodbye, Joran van der Sloot spent some time with her. Natalee Holloway vanished, never to be seen again.
That, in a nutshell, was the official story, one that Dutch viewers, and certainly the Justice authorities on Aruba, were familiar with. But Peter R. de Vries had managed to obtain a full confession from the main suspect. He had a Range Rover rigged with several hidden cameras and instructed the driver, a Caribbean-born entrepreneur who had befriended Van der Sloot six months before, to ask the student some pointed questions.
"Didn't tick anymore"
The video footage shows Joran van der Sloot smoking marihuana and telling his friend on several occasions the details of what happened on Aruba two and a half years ago.
Photo: Joran van der Sloot ( middle) on a
recent night out.
He describes how he had sex with the young American woman, that all of a sudden "she started shaking and didn't tick anymore", how he phoned an friend who owned a boat and who then came over to the beach to help him to dispose of the body at sea.
Again, most Dutch viewers had already heard much of that part too. It was leaked to the press on Friday and Joran van der Sloot was quick to respond.
Speaking by telephone on a late-evening talk show on Friday, Van der Sloot said he was retrospectively kicking himself for having said all this: "It's so dumb, so dumb. It's really dumb. I said something; something I shouldn't have said." However, he also added that "It is also easy to prove that what I said is not true," although he appeared not to know how this could be done.
"The American girls were drinking, taking coke... I told them I had to go to school tomorrow. I could see Natalee's friend wanted to have sex. [...] She said, pointing to Natalee, 'that girl fancies you.'"
"That whore... she ordered a jelly shot, which I drank from her bellybutton while she was lying on the bar... I gave her a Bacardi 151 (75 percent alcohol)...wanted to f*** her. [...] She said she didn't want me to take her back to the hotel. She wanted to see the sharks [there are no sharks near the island, ed]." - Joran van der Sloot
Van der Sloot maintained his innocence: "It's a story I told my friend because I knew that it was what he wanted to hear".
"All of a sudden, she started shaking all over... there was no one there... So I talked to her. And she didn't say anything."
"I told my friend 'I have a problem'. I moved her to a mangrove-bush... I was shaking that bitch, nearly cried - why did this shit happen to me?"
"He was there as well... it was 2.30 A.M... he has his own boat"
"I know what happened to her. She is dead, of course. [...] I would never kill a girl... I was lucky: the ocean is big enough. I think I'll never get caught for this. [...] If you go farther than two kilometres, she'll never be found." - Joran van der Sloot
Before Sunday's broadcast, crime reporter Peter R. de Vries notified the Aruban Public Prosecutor's Office and also asked Natalee's mother, Beth Twitty, to come to the Netherlands so that he could present his findings to her in person in advance.
Photo: Peter R. de Vries and Beth Twitty.
The new material prompted the Aruban Public Prosecutor's Office to reopen the investigation into the disappearance. "This information may help considerably in the solution of the mystery of Natalee's disappearance," a spokesman stated. It "may shed a new light on the mode" in which she died and the "method by which her body disappeared."
However, experts differ when it comes to the legal significance of this secretly recorded confession. Will it hold up as evidence in a court of law?
Some argue that filming people without their knowledge is a punishable offence; others believe it will only be weighed by a judge if there is a body of other evidence pointing in the same direction. But there's a general consensus that, combined with the evidence already found, suspicion now clearly lies with Joran van der Sloot.
"I've been incredibly lucky... he went into the sea and dumped her... I managed to sleep afterwards." - Joran van der Sloot
The Dutch student emerges from the video-footage as a callous, calculating, cold-hearted young man, Peter R de Vries concluded, ending a memorable crime show on Dutch television.
"The most important thing is disinformation; the most important thing is, what I would advise anyone is, don't talk!"
"I'm finished. It'll be better than I could have hoped for... I'll probably get a massive compensation." - Joran van der Sloot
4 February 208
[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]