NEW YORK – While Aruban authorities on Wednesday searched the home of a teenager who was one of the last people to see a Natalee Holloway (search), legal and investigative experts said the search, along with many other investigative techniques, could have been done long ago.
The investigation has "been severely compromised because what they're doing now they should have done two weeks ago," said forensic pathologist Michael Baden, who added that evidence could have been hidden or washed away within the past two weeks from the time the Alabama teen went missing and Wednesday's search.
"The chances of finding anything significant has been greatly reduced by the two week's interval," he added.
Wednesday's search was at the home of Joran Van Der Sloot (search), a 17-year-old son of a Dutch official who works for the Aruban government. Authorities may have intentionally let the teen and two other men — Surinamese brothers Satish Kalpoe (search), 18, and Deepak Kalpoe (search), 21 — go after initial police questioning so they could be placed under surveillance. Sources told FOX News that Aruban authorities tapped the cell phones of all three before they apprehended them a second time on June 9.
But Holloway disappeared from the Dutch Caribbean island in the early hours of May 30 and with hundreds of islanders and tourists searching a small island of only 97,000 people, still no hard evidence has turned up.
The search for the Mountain Brook, Ala., teen began shortly after she failed to show up for her flight home the next morning. Police found her passport in her hotel room with her packed bags.
"What should have happened the first day, is that they really should have gotten the U.S. more involved in the situation ... every single day that goes by, the trail gets colder and colder," said Rahul Manchanda, an international law expert with Manchanda Law Offices in New York City.
A Sovereign Nation
Considered one of the safest destinations in the region, Aruba last year recorded only one murder and six rapes; this year, there have been two murders and three rapes. The police force is small and some government officials work part time leading many to question why Aruban authorities have not asked for more help from more experienced U.S. investigators.
"The FBI is there to give them assets" like divers to check the waters and people with other expertise, said former Washington, D.C. detective Mike Brooks. Although people have asked why the FBI doesn't just take over the case, Brooks said, "they can't do that. I guarantee they'd like to because they'd probably get to the bottom of this but there only there at the behest of the Aruban government."
The problem is, Aruba is a sovereign nation under the authority of the Dutch government.
Whereas the United States and the Netherlands (search) are part of international treaties governing each others' involvement in crimes such as narco-trafficking or international child abductions, they do not cover these types of crimes. Therefore, the U.S. government cannot impose its own investigators on the case.
"Every country has the right to be free from interference with outside governments in terms of their internal affairs," Manchanda said. "It's very difficult for the U.S. to get more involved in this unless the Aruba government consents."
He added: "Nobody wants to have the perception that the U.S. is so overreaching and overbearing that they would reach into every country in the world" in law and order issues … "there has to be some compelling reason for them to be involved."
U.S. officials, however, say they are helping as much as they are asked and are offering assistance wherever it's needed.
"We are integral to the investigation, to the extent U.S. law enforcement officers are needed," one State Department official told FOXNews.com on Wednesday. "Substantial resources are being applied to this as they [Aruba officials] continue to ask for more."
The official said it's not fair to say the United States isn't doing enough. "I think that everybody is working very diligently, very hard to find out what happened here ... we continue to provide assistance when asked and we continue to offer assistance."
On June 6, during a trip to Florida, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters that the United States is in constant contact" with Aruba authorities.
"It's obviously a case about which we're very concerned and we're all watching and working and also praying that this will come out all right," she said.
Aruban officials, meanwhile, have insisted time and time again that getting to the bottom of Holloway's disappearance and prosecuting the perpetrators is the island nation's No. 1 priority.
"We want to have this case solved as quickly as possible," government spokesman Rueben Trappenberg said on Wednesday, adding that it was "difficult to say" how the pressure on the island paradise to solve what many now fear is a crime has affected the investigation.
"The government of Aruba has always made the safety … of our community and our visitors a top priority," Prime Minister Nelson Orlando Oduber said last week in a televised address. "Aruba has very strong ties to the United States. We will not tolerate any activities that harm our American friends or any of our international visitors, or part of our community at large."
The FBI Contingent
Nine FBI officials are now working with Aruban authorities in the search for Holloway, some of whom are serving as observers. The agency has said they'd help in any way they can but, so far, have been asked for in minimal amounts.
Aruban officials did ask the FBI, however, to analyze a DNA sample from the backseat of one of the suspect's cars to see if it was Holloway's blood. The blood was flown to the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Va., but tests came back negative for blood.
An FBI spokeswoman also confirmed that Aruban officials have not requested more evidence processing at the Quantico lab. However, FBI agents are being included in police briefings, and one agent is being allowed to observe interviews with the suspects through a live video feed or through glass.
Some of the FBI agents on the case include a crimes-against-children specialist, who was an observer during the questioning of three boys and two security guards, the latter of which were released. There are agents from the FBI's evidence processing division, from the extra-territorial squad, which deals with incidents in the Caribbean and South America, as well as a witness coordinator.
At one point, the FBI did have two divers in Aruba, but a source familiar with the investigation told FOX News they were sent back to the United States because there was no specific location, along the beach or in the water, to search for Holloway.
"Bottom line — it's a different country," said former FBI investigator Bill Daly when asked why there isn't more FBI involvement. "The FBI has their hands tied so far as their legal ability to do interviews, conduct searches," etc…, but they can serve in an advisory role, he added.
Daly surmised that perhaps the Aruban officials are asking the FBI to deal with more forensic evidence — what there is of it — more than is being reported. "I believe that's going on behind the scenes," he said.
"This becomes a little complicated right now. We don't have a crime scene, we don't have a victim, we're sort of reverse-investigating them right now … [but] we only have a period of time to try to figure out what happened … the time frame is coming to a close … it could be in the next few days."
FOX News' Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.