Justice was delayed, but not denied and Joran Van der Sloot will spend a 28-year hunk of his remaining adult life in a harsh prison in the high Andes Mountains of Peru. Able to evade justice for the murder of 18-year old Natalee Holloway during the Alabama teen’s senior high school trip to Aruba in 2005, the hulking, degenerate, pimp and gambler, will instead go to prison for murdering a 21-year old Peruvian woman in 2010.
Having befriended Natalee’s family shortly after they arrived on the Dutch-owned Caribbean island of Aruba to begin the desperate, agonizing, ultimately fruitless search for their missing teenager, I share their belief that the arrogant Van der Sloot murdered her. In the years since, I chronicled the ebb and flow of their frustration and disappointment as Joran slipped out of one legal jam after another.
We tracked his miserable life as he went from Aruba to Holland to Thailand and back again, always dabbling in the sex trade, toying with the pursuing media, and defying authorities to arrest and convict him if they could. They couldn’t, and adding bitterness to irony, his pursuers gave him the money he needed to travel to South America where he would claim his last victim.
Natalee’s mother Beth Holloway Twitty secretly recorded Joran shaking her down. In exchange for $250,000, he would tell mom where he had hidden her daughter’s corpse. The vile man instead took Beth’s down payment and used it to flee to Lima Peru where he met and murdered Stephanie Flores Ramírez.
Unlike the hapless Aruban authorities, the Peruvians quickly ascertained that Van der Sloot was the killer. Using forensic evidence, casino and hotel surveillance video and other records, they tracked his escape to neighboring Chile. There he confessed, which is something he still has not done in the Natalee Holloway case.
But at least he is going down. And there was grim satisfaction this Friday morning watching the now 24-year old creep being sentenced; especially when he squirmed, sweat and fidgeted as one of the three presiding judges read aloud what he did to Stephanie. Hearing how he had strangled the life out one lovely, popular but defenseless young woman, I can picture him doing exactly the same to the other.
He only got 28 years of the 30 years requested by the prosecutors because of his “sincere confession.” That didn’t bother me much because he will still be facing extortion charges in the United States when he is released, hopefully around age 52, although he will likely be released on parole earlier, if he survives.
What did bother me was the second reason he asked for leniency in the Flores case.
Remember the old saw about the kid who murders his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan?
That’s what I thought of when Joran’s Peruvian defense lawyer begged the court for mercy because his client was going through a period of “post-traumatic stress” at the time he killed Stephanie. The source of the stress was being “persecuted throughout the world” as the suspected killer of Natalie Holloway.
Having reported from several Peruvian and other remote, cold, high Andean prisons over the years, I can say with confidence that Joran’s stress has just begun.
Geraldo Rivera is Senior Columnist for Fox News Latino.