Menu

Aruba Authorities Begin New Search for Clues

Investigators in Aruba began searching Tuesday in an area near the island's hotel district following a new tip in the mystery surrounding Natalee Holloway (search)'s disappearance.

A boy who found a pair of women's underpants, used condoms and condom wrappers near a small pond in the Palm Beach area north of the Alabama teenager's hotel phoned his find in to police.

Authorities said the area was a popular hangout among teens and that the items were nothing unusual, but a dearth of clues to Holloway's whereabouts was prompting police to follow every lead.

A representative of the Aruban prime minister's office and the police commissioner were on the scene, yet another indication of how eager the tranquil island paradise is to show the world it is taking the teen's disappearance seriously. Police Chief Jan van Stratten was to speak at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

Police have so far have found few solid leads to Holloway's whereabouts, including DNA evidence.

Holloway's mother, Betty Holloway Twitty (search), has said she believes three young men in being held in police custody know what happened to her daughter. She has also implied that the Aruban government may be trying to protect one of the boys, Joran Van Der Sloot (search), an honors student at Aruba International School (search) and the son of a high-ranking judicial official on the Dutch Caribbean island.

Aruban authorities have requested minimal assistance from the FBI, a spokeswoman for the bureau told FOX News. It was not clear how deep the bureau's involvement is in the investigation.

Two FBI divers were sent to Aruba, but a source familiar with the investigation told FOX News they were sent back to the United States because no location had been pinpointed in the search for the teen.

One agent, a specialist in crime against children, observed police questioning of all five men who were brought in by authorities. Agents from the bureau's evidence-processing division and the squad that deals with incidents in the region as well as a witness coordinator were also on the island.

The FBI has responded to Holloway's family's complaints by saying the bureau has no legal authority in Aruba and as the country's guest, its role is limited to what the government there allows it to do.

The FBI was asked by the Arubans to analyze a DNA sample taken from the backseat of the Kalpoe brothers' car, but it tested negative for blood. A source familiar with the investigation told FOX News the bureau was not aware of more evidence the Arubans may have uncovered.

Ex-Suspect Points to Three Men

One of the two former hotel security guards held in Holloway's disappearance said a story told to police fingering him was concocted by the three men who saw her last.

"From day one I knew I was innocent," Antonius "Mickey" John, 30, told reporters following his release late Monday night.

"I have never seen her before, never," he said of the 18-year-old who vanished after a senior class trip to the Caribbean resort island of Aruba (search).

John and Abraham Jones, 28, who also once worked as a security guard at a hotel near where the teen and her classmates were staying, were taken into custody June 5, six days after the graduating senior failed to show up at the airport for the trip back to the United States.

John and Jones claimed from the beginning that they had never seen Holloway before. They were reportedly implicated by three young men who said they saw one of the guards approach the girl after dropping her off at the Holiday Inn after a night of drinking and dancing.

But suspicion now falls largely on the three men, who are still in custody. John said one of the men confessed to having lied to police.

"The story about the Holiday Inn was all made up," he told reporters. He said that he and one of the men, 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe (search), signed papers in which both acknowledged never having seen the other before.

John said Kalpoe told him he, his brother Satish Kalpoe (search), 18, and their friend Van Der Sloot, 17, had met Holloway at a club and had driven her to a lighthouse beside the island's Arisha Beach.

The Kalpoe brothers changed their story earlier this week, telling police that Van Der Sloot and Holloway were kissing passionately and fondling in the back seat of the car. Holloway was extremely intoxicated, they said.

The brothers said they left Holloway and Van Der Sloot at the beach and headed home. They have not specified what happened at the lighthouse, or where Holloway was.

The three young men were taken into custody June 9.

Justice authorities refused to comment further Tuesday on John and Jones' release. But government spokesman Ruben Trapenberg said the release of the former security guards "probably means they had nothing to do with this case and prosecutors were able to check out their alibis."

Lawyers for John and Jones filed court petitions Monday seeking an order for their release, but they were let go before a judge reviewed the motions, according to John's lawyer, Noraina Pietersz.

"These guys had nothing to do with this case and this decision reflects that," Pietersz said.

No one has been charged, and lawyers for the three men still in custody and the two freed men all say their clients are innocent.

Holloway vanished early May 30, hours before she was expected at the airport to return home after a five-day vacation with 124 classmates and seven chaperones celebrating graduation from Mountain Brook, Ala., High School. Her U.S. passport and packed bags were found in her room.

John and Jones, who had worked as security guards at a nearby hotel, were detained after the three young men said they dropped her off and last saw her around 2 a.m. being approached in the car park of her hotel by a black man in a security guard uniform.

Holloway Twitty said if she did not see results soon, she might start to believe authorities were trying to protect the young men, who told police they took the 18-year-old Holloway to a beach after an evening of dancing and drinking, hours before she disappeared.

"All three of those boys know what happened to her," Holloway Twitty said Sunday. "They all know what they did with her that night."

Prime Minister Nelson Oduber (search) has stressed that no one is above the law on the Dutch Caribbean island governed by a local parliament. The Netherlands is responsible for foreign and defense affairs.

Hundreds of islanders and tourists have volunteered in daily searches for Holloway, whose plight has shocked residents in one of the safest destinations in the region. One murder and six rapes were recorded last year on the island of 97,000 people. This year there have been two murders and three rapes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.