Published January 13, 2015
Police and volunteers used heavy equipment, shovels and trained dogs Saturday to pick through a landfill where a witness claimed he saw men dumping a female body two days after an Alabama teenager vanished.
The landfill is on the southern part of the Dutch Caribbean (search) island, the opposite side from where Natalee Holloway was last seen in the early hours of May 30.
The witness claimed he saw the men dumping the body on the afternoon of June 1, said Tim Miller, director of Texas EquuSearch (search), which is coordinating the landfill search.
The FBI and Aruban police have questioned the witness, an Aruban man who claimed to be dropping off trash at the time, Miller said.
"He said he saw a face, blond hair and a woman's chest, and that the body was dumped and covered," Miller said.
The witness could not identify the men but said they were driving a light colored jeep, said Miller, who spoke to the man Friday.
Police spokesman Edwin Comenencia (search) said police searched the landfill after receiving the tip in days following Holloway's disappearance, but found nothing. He said the witness recently approached Holloway's family, who asked for another search.
Holloway's family has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to her safe return, and a separate $100,000 award for information that help solves the mystery. It was unclear if the witness had been seeking the reward.
Miller said the witness was trying to guide search crews to the location where he believed the body was dumped.
On the opposite side of Aruba, police ordered crews to stop draining a pond near the Marriott hotel, Comenencia said. They found no clues to Holloway's disappearance, he said.
Crews began draining the pond Tuesday, but it was still several feet deep Saturday. Comenencia declined to say why investigators decided to stop draining it.
The pond became an area of interest after another witness claimed he saw three young men, including a Dutch youth detained in the case, driving near it the night Holloway disappeared.
Extensive searches by Dutch marines, Aruban police, and thousands of volunteers have found no trace of Holloway, who disappeared on the final night of a high school graduation trip.
No one has been charged in the case and van der Sloot is the only person detained as a suspect.