Hidden Camera Footage Shows Holloway Suspect Confess to Dumping Body at Sea
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Hidden camera footage broadcast in the Netherlands on Sunday showed Dutch student Joran Van der Sloot saying he was with Natalee Holloway when she collapsed on a beach in Aruba. He said he believed she was dead and asked a friend to dump her body in the sea.
"She'll never be found," he said.
A series of conversations between Van der Sloot and a man he believed to be his friend were recorded in a Range Rover that had been rigged with three hidden cameras by Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch television crime reporter. They were shown on Dutch television.
Last week, Van der Sloot said he was lying in those conversations and denied that he had anything to do with the Alabama teenager's disappearance.
Holloway, 18, vanished in May 2005 just before she was due to fly home to Alabama, at the end of her high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island. No trace of her has been found. The mystery of her disappearance has frustrated authorities and garnered wide attention on television and in tabloid newspapers in Europe and the United States.
In the recordings, Van der Sloot said Holloway was drunk and that she began shaking and slumped down on the beach as the pair were making out.
"Suddenly she started shaking and then she didn't say anything," Van der Sloot said, adding that he did not kill her.
"I would never murder a girl," he said.
He said he panicked and tried but failed to revive her. He said that Holloway looked dead but that he could not be sure she was not still alive when the friend took her away.
He used a pay phone next to a hotel's swimming pool to call the friend and asked for help in disposing the body. When the friend arrived at the beach, the two put Holloway's body into a boat. The friend then took it out to sea and pushed it into the water, Van der Sloot said.
"The ocean is big," he added.
He said he and his friend agreed that Van der Sloot would go to school the next day to avoid arousing any suspicion.
Van der Sloot said his friend assured him he had taken care of Holloway's body and that the police were not going to locate it. "They will know nothing," Van der Sloot quoted the friend as telling him.
"I've not lost any sleep over this," he added at one point.
Aruban prosecutors said last week they were reopening their investigation into Holloway's disappearance after seeing De Vries' material. But on Sunday, they said a judge on the island had ruled that while the information merited an investigation against Van der Sloot, it did not meet the threshold for an arrest warrant.
"This means that the office is legally not able to have J.v.d.S. arrested in the Netherlands," prosecutors said in a statement, referring to the Dutch student by his initials. The statement did not say when the judge made the ruling.
The prosecutors said they would appeal the judge's ruling and seek to have the Dutch student re-arrested. They also cautioned that the Holloway mystery was far from resolved.
"While video tape may present a strong case in a TV news show, it may be insufficient for a finding of guilt by a judge. It is up to the court to evaluate the materials and the statements, and to find out their significance," prosecutors said.
Van der Sloot was interviewed last week by the respected Dutch television show "Pauw & Witteman" following reports that De Vries had captured him making statements about the case.
"It is true I told someone. Everybody will see it Sunday," Van der Sloot said, referring to De Vries' planned television show.
"That is what he wanted to hear, so I told him what he wanted to hear," Van der Sloot said, adding that he had built up a relationship with the man he spoke to, but had never fully trusted him.
De Vries has said he paid the man Van der Sloot spoke to, Patrick van der Eem, $37,000 for his help, saying it was to cover his expenses.
Phone calls seeking comment from Van der Sloot's Aruban attorneys and his New York-based lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, went unanswered Sunday.
Last week, Tacopina told The Associated Press that "the evidence refutes what Joran supposedly said."
"It doesn't change the truth of this case. And the truth is, Joran had nothing to do with Natalee's death," he said.
Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Ala., was last seen in public leaving a bar with Van der Sloot and two Surinamese brothers — Deepak and Satish Kalpoe — hours before she was due to board a flight home.
The three were re-arrested in November, but released within weeks for lack of evidence. All three have always denied any role in her disappearance.
The Dutch student's father, Paul Van der Sloot, declined to comment when reached in Aruba before the tape aired.
De Vries also aired images of Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, as he showed her the footage.
Clasping together her hands, she moved her lips silently as she watched the images.
"They could have just dumped her alive in the ocean, unconscious," she said. "They don't even know."
"I hope his living hell is about to begin and that he never gets another night's sleep," she added.