Crisp Dollar Bills

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Creating a timeline is essential to an investigation. It is sometimes hard to create the perfect one but you take pieces of the puzzle and do the best you can. In creating a timeline for Natalee Holloway (search), we needed to figure out where Natalee was last seen or known to be. This includes going to the possible end of the timeline — meaning, where in her expected path that night did she not end up? In other words, we know she was expected to return to her hotel room... did she? Could she have returned after seeing Joran van der Sloot (search) and gone back out? Could someone have followed her to her room? (It was a first floor hotel room with sliding glass doors to the beach, which could be dangerous for a young woman even with roommates.)

In my mind, I have confirmed that Natalee never got back to her hotel room on May 30 — so no intruder (like the Elizabeth Smart (search) case) nabbed her. I confirmed it for myself by taking a hotel room tour with her mother (pictures attached and we showed the video last night.) In the hotel room was a bed that had not been slept in — so I assume she did not return home and then go out again after her time with Joran. (Of course I also assume the info I was told that the bed was not slept in and then made by a housekeeper is true.) The fact that her passport was left in the room also suggests to me that she intended to return — in other words, this was not a runaway situation. The same can be said for the presence in her hotel room of her wallet with money. This also rules out for me a hotel room intrusion/robbery since the money and wallet were there. The only thing missing besides Natalee was her driver's license. I assume she took her license to prove age at the club she went to and where she met Joran for the second time that night.

It was not easy to do the hotel tour with Beth, Natalee's mother. This entire month long investigation, of course, is very, very, very painful to Beth. Beth is grateful that many media outlets are here in Aruba investigating (reporting) and also putting pressure on the authorities to do more for Beth and their family. I sure wish we could find Natalee alive and well, but being optimistic is not easy. The odds are that she is dead — but the family struggles to keep hope alive. I admire them for this — they are a very nice family.

As an aside, do you want to know what bothered me most in Natalee's hotel room? The worst part of it was Beth showing me her daughter's wallet with all the crisp one dollar bills in it. Beth had gotten Natalee the ones for tips while on her Aruba holiday. For some reason standing there with Beth and looking at all those crisp ones I flashed back to the thought of how excited Beth must have been to go to a bank and get those ones for her daughter — they were so crisp and there were so many that they looked like you had to get fresh from the bank. Little did Beth know that her motherly task of getting tip money for her daughter would take such an ugly turn and I felt terrible for Beth as we thumbed through the ones.

Many on the island think the investigation is stalled. This could be true, but when an investigation is stalled you don't quit, you start over. One should start from scratch and be willing to re-think everything — including fixed ideas. This does not mean you abandon all your earlier theories and evidence but that you start anew and make sure that you have been thorough and have gotten everything you can out of every witness in the matter. That is what we did — started to investigate anew — because the investigation seems stalled to us. Of course, maybe the investigation is proceeding with great speed and we just don't realize it. But, to start over since we think it stalled, yesterday we went to Mickey John's (search) house to talk to him.

As you may recall, Mickey was one of the two guards who was arrested on June 5 (the three boys were arrested on June 9.) He is very upset about what happened to him and frankly I don't blame him. But slipping between his upset and the police "rush to judgment" arrest of him is some potentially important information. Mickey was housed in jail for a short time in the cell next to Deepak Kalpoe and spoke to him about Natalee Holloway. It appears Mickey has not volunteered this information to the police (he is mad at them) and the police have not been clever enough to go back and ask him (maybe an apology would help, too.)

Mickey did provide us some info that could be (not saying I am certain it would be) important to the investigation. We aired the interview (and that information) last night. Of course the information that Mickey did provide needs to be checked against his earlier statements to make sure that this is not an embellishment. Nothing should go unchecked — corroboration is powerful to make sure one is on the right track in investigating a case. We took still pictures from our time with him and those pictures are posted on the blog today. Click on the links in the photo box above to check out my photo essays.

We are working on a segment having to do with the tides around the island so we shot video all over the island of the water and beaches. I posted some pictures from that shoot — it looks like we are having fun at the beach but note we are in clothes, not swimsuits. Only people who are working would be dressed like that on those hot, hot beaches. It is steamy down here.

Finally, while we are here doing investigative reporting, we are not fooling ourselves and thinking we are the investigators. The police are the appropriate investigators and we are careful not to get in their way. We are simply "hitting the pavement" every day and asking questions — we are not suffering from delusions of grandeur that we will solve this disappearance. We are only seeking to bring you information and learn as much as we can about it.

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