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The Internet service in my Aruban hotel is up and running… so a quick blog before it crashes on me.
While it is up and running, I have forwarded lots of pictures to the New York bureau to post. Click on the links in the photo box above to check out my photo essays. My computer is overloaded with saved images to show you. The saved pics show our first few days here (our first day we had a rental car with broken air conditioning that we turned back in... moved to a second rental car of the day which broke down stranding us along the side of the road. We needed water and my producer "stole" our bottled water to fill the radiator. As we were stranded, I had plenty of time to snap pics.)
I am anxious to have the Natalee Holloway (search) investigation come to its appropriate ending — with all the facts and justice. I can't tell you what all the facts are and, until we get all the info, it is impossible to determine what justice is. It is easy to be suspicious, but to get a case to court, you have to have more than suspicion. You need evidence.
After many weeks in Aruba (search), I still see no legal evidence of a murder — although I think (guess) Natalee has been murdered. My conclusion she has been murdered is unscientific — and could be wrong. It certainly is not enough to get a conviction in a U.S. court if this case were in the United States. It remains possible she is alive, but I just don't think so. To be alive, she would have to be a runaway or a kidnap victim. This is possible... but not probable in my opinion.
For the last few days we have been chasing down the source of the tip she might be buried in the landfill. If you follow this investigation, you know that someone tipped off the volunteer search group and a huge search has been underway in the landfill for days. The search has included heavy equipment and generated some local controversy.
We finally did find the tipster who led to this giant search. (We aired our interview on Thursday night.) It was not easy to find the tipster. We were given a name and a town and literally pounded on doors looking for him.
I don't know how we had the luck, but we did find him. I never dreamed we would be that lucky. He was very reluctant to talk, but we did get him to talk a bit. My view: the tipster believes what he says is true, but I think the tipster's information is not valuable. The tipster seemed to have different versions of his tip while talking to me. "Fluid" tips are always suspect. Besides fluid facts in the tip to make me suspicious that the search of the landfill is futile, I was told by the tipster that the body was dumped about 4:30 p.m. It seems unlikely to me that someone would get rid of a body in daylight. But I could be wrong.
Now for the strange: Thursday night we did our show on the back deck of the hotel. We place huge TV monitors near us so that we can watch the show ourselves and for any tourist who arrives. A huge crowd of tourists gathers each night but last night we had an "odd" guest. A photographer from a network showed up and my producer watched him "shoot" our TV monitor as we aired the interview with the tipster. It was very peculiar, we have all sorts of theories as to why he was dispatched to do that... but no conclusive facts.
After the show last night, I spoke to several people associated with the search. They want tips... and I also received an e-mail from Natalee's aunt (see E-mail No. 1 below) with a way to provide those tips. The best way to solve an investigation is to get credible tips to chase down.
Now, some of your randomly selected e-mails:
E-mail No. 1 — This is a partial e-mail that I received from Natalee Holloway's aunt. The family created a Web address and the e-mail sets forth the purpose:
Info that we discussed after the show on Tuesday night: The e-mail address: email@example.com
Purpose: To seek information from young women who may have experienced an unwanted encounter (threatened, drugs slipped in their drink or raped) by Joran van der Sloot. There are rumors in Aruba that Juran has a history of preying on young women, especially American girls, who would be returning home from their vacation the next day. I'm sure that it would take a lot of courage for a rape victim to come forward, but their identity would not be revealed to the media.
Also, we are looking for any photos or video taken at Carlos & Charlie's on the night of May 29.
E-mail No. 2
I was embarrassed for you the way you were chasing the Aruba prosecutor as she was getting into her car the other day. This tabloid story has made you look like a Midwest hick intern chasing a pig judging story at the county fair.
If you're trying to appeal to the grocery check out tabloid reading fan, you're succeeding. But, if you're going to continue, please don't mention you're a lawyer.
Your legal image is becoming a real disappointment. Maybe everyone has a price to do anything.
Las Vegas, NV
E-mail No. 3
It is time for you to go back to being the great legal person you were on CNN. Beth the mother has had too much TV time. Let the police, etc., handle the case. There are many missing people in the USA. Just because this family is rich is no reason they should get all this TV time. I no longer watch your show if this Holloway case is the topic. You have made the mother a TV star. Next, FOX will give her her own show.
E-mail No. 4
You are doing a great job in Aruba. I can't imagine leaving my home and going to a foreign land to work those hours, but I guess the Holloway/Twitty families make it worth it.
I pray daily that some evidence will be found to prove that Natalee has been murdered and that it not take a year or more as the Chandra Levy case did. I also pray that anyone involved in her demise be prosecuted. I find the Aruban justice system laughable, but I do think that Joran van der Sloot is being worn down and they new inspectors/investigators only need to keep on him a while longer and he will break.
I won't end my day without watching "On the Record." Keep up the wonderful job you are doing. My best to you.
Lake Ariel, PA
E-mail No. 5
I am tired of the Holloway story. I understand that this is an on going investigation but really there has not been any new evidence and as much as we don't want to think it, most likely she is dead. Her mother needed to be more concerned prior to her daughter taking the trip instead of after the fact.
There has to be other stories out there that deserve as much airtime as this one has received over the past weeks.
St. Louis, MO
E-mail No. 6
In reference to Aruba's treatment of animals, I feel the following quote by Gandhi is appropriate: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
E-mail No. 7
Dear Ms. Van Susteren:
Mrs. Twitty told of Joran ordering four "151's." That is, according to the Internet, Bacardi 151 Proof Rum.
Fifty some years ago I was a drinking destroyer sailor going to many strange ports, and I've never come close to drinking something like that. No wonder Natalee Holloway acted drunk, she was drunk...151 proof? She got "sucker punched!"
E-mail No. 8
You wrote: "I don't know what we do with this story. I suppose we could drop it and move on ... yet a part of me says we should try and finish it. There is no perfect answer."
Greta, follow your gut. If that nagging voice says to persist, the worst thing that could happen is egg on your face. If you drop the story, in spite of that voice, the worst thing that could happen is regret for your decision for a very, long time. I think egg is fairly easy to wash off.
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