ORANJESTAD, Aruba – The family of a 19-year-old arrested in the case of a young Alabama woman who went missing last year while visiting Aruba said Wednesday that he had nothing to do with her disappearance.
The family of Geoffrey van Cromvoirt also said in a statement released by his lawyers that he is not friends with any of the people previously detained in the Natalee Holloway investigation, which has gathered force in recent days with new searches and witness interviews.
"The family van Cromvoirt distances itself completely from all expressions or statements which bring Geoffrey van Cromvoirt in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and any statements in which any role is attributed to him in this case," the family said in a statement that released in Dutch by his lawyer, Eline Lotter Homan.
Aruban prosecutors, identifying Cromvoirt only by his initials, said he was suspected of "criminal offenses that may be related to the disappearance" of Holloway but have not provided details about why he was arrested.
"Her friends have not given me any indication that Natalee had a meeting with this young man or ... (had) a relationship with him," Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Wednesday.
Holloway, who was 18 when she disappeared, was last seen leaving a bar with a Dutch teen and two Surinamese brothers on May 30 — the final night of her high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island.
The public prosecutor's office said Wednesday that the coast guard was using sonar and other equipment to check an unspecified area off the Caribbean island. The search, the latest of many for Holloway, of of Mountain Brook, Ala., was in its fourth day but had not previously been disclosed.
Officials on the Dutch island also said they were interviewing witnesses and were in contact with authorities in the Netherlands about tips received after the airing of a television program devoted to unsolved crimes.
A judge on Tuesday had approved a prosecution request to hold the man pending further investigation. He was also detained on suspicion of drug offenses.
Under the law, another hearing for the 19-year-old must be held by at least April 25 if the prosecution wants to continue his detenion, said Mariaine Croes, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.
Searches involving Dutch marines, the FBI and hundreds of volunteers have been conducted throughout the island and off the coast. More recent searches have focused on dunes along the island's north shore.