Joran Goes 'On the Record'

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We just got back from a very quick trip to Aruba. We got word late last week (Friday?) that Joran van der Sloot would sit down for an interview with us in Aruba. The one agreement: that we wouldn't edit it. That seemed fair to me. Frankly, I hate to have controversial interviews edited, since despite our best efforts, everyone — viewers and guests — yell "foul." An unedited interview allows me to simply say, "Here it is. You be the judge." Joran also did not want to do the interview in the United States, so we agreed on Aruba.

I am not sure when the interview will air. I suspect either beginning tonight or tomorrow. I say "beginning" because it is quite long — more than one hour, maybe as long as two — and thus we can't do it in one night and we can't edit it. If I were to describe the interview, I would say it is like a deposition — although it was not intended to be any particular style. The only difference is that neither of us had notes, I simply asked questions and he answered. Naturally I formed an opinion (I am human, not a machine), but will hold it pending your viewing of the interview. I don't want you to be influenced by my view. I want you to form your own opinion after you see the interview.

Needless to say, our presence in Aruba was no secret. We spend so much time there that we are recognized (and of course our equipment is also a big hint.) Prior to the interview, people came up to me in the hotel to tip me off that they had seen Joran in the hotel and that I should try and get an interview with him. I merely said, "Great idea!"

The interview got off to a slow start. Joran agreed to do it at 10 a.m., but his parents showed up with one of his former teachers and they were much opposed to it. They spent more than an hour meeting with him privately to convince him not to do it. I was not completely worried that the interview would be aborted, since Joran was extremely determined to do it. We let them talk of course and then, after a long talk, Joran said he was ready. I did speak to his parents and assured them that I had no tricks. I was just going to ask questions — what happened? And what happened next? And then? And next? — and let Joran talk. I told them that my questions were straightforward and that if he got "hurt" in the interview, it would be his doing and not mine since I had not tricks up my sleeve. I just wanted to ask him questions about that night and other related issues.

As the interview was to begin, Joran said he did not want his parents in the room. He did want his teacher. I said fine. I just wanted to ask questions and did not care who was or was not in the room. The teacher said just as we entered the room for the interview and before we started that there would be no "re-enactment" questions. I thought he meant that we would not go out on the Marriott Beach and walk through the night and where Joran was. I had not intended to do that. I just wanted to ask questions and was curious as to the answers.

As we sat down seconds later, I re-thought more about what he said and realized that he meant I could not ask about the night Natalee vanished. That was odd and of course something I could not agree to, as my purpose of doing the interview was to ask about that night. We had not traveled to Aruba to discuss anything but that night. I turned to the teacher from my chair and told him I had to ask Joran about that night, that was why I was there and Joran agreed to that. I don't know if I got a response, but the interview began and Joran answered questions about that night. Joran was at all times willing to answer the questions. I am anxious to hear your reaction to the interview.

After the interview we began our race to the airport. As usual, we had little time to get there and had to go through customs, etc. We decided to detour, risk missing our flights (we did) and see if the Kalpoe brothers would talk to us. Since Joran was so willing to talk, we figured that maybe the Kalpoe brothers would. We were not sure if we could remember how to find their home, but we got lucky and found it. We drove up and saw two cars — including Deepak's which has now been returned by the police to him. We knocked. There was no answer, so we took some pictures of the car and left.

As we drove off, we spotted the front door opening. I jumped out of the car, went to the door and got it slammed in my face. Then more than one person started screaming at me through the glass pane next to the door. I am not stupid. I got the message that I was not welcome and backed off. I am not sure who was screaming at me, but I think it was the Kalpoe brothers' mother and stepfather... and maybe the grandmother. I have met them before, but it was dark inside their house and they were so mad that I did not linger.

We went to the airport, booked another flight and got back to D.C. after 11 p.m. I missed Monday's show, but we had planned on a guest host before I left and I had not planned on hosting. As an aside, John Walsh and Congressman Burton were on my connecting flight out of North Carolina. When you fly into D.C., it is routine to run into people who you recognize.

Tomorrow: your e-mails and pictures from Aruba. I don't have time to post today — I am behind schedule, having been on the road in New Orleans and then Aruba. And, on Wednesday I am due in New York City!

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