Natalee Holloway, the 18 year old victim was a blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty who seemed to embody everyone’s concept of the all-American girl. A straight-A student, a member of the National Honor Society, a popular member of the school dance team, and the recent recipient of a full academic scholarship to her home state’s flagship school, the University of Alabama.
During the last week of May 2005, 125 teenagers from the graduating class of Mountain Brook High School, an affluent suburb just outside Birmingham, Alabama, flew to the Caribbean island of Aruba for a week of fun in the sun.
On Monday morning, May 30, the last day of the trip, 124 of the former high school seniors gathered in the lobby of the Holiday Inn in the town of Oranjestad for the drive to the airport.
One teen was missing, 18-year-old Natalee Holloway.
Natalee’s friends had last seen her around one o’clock in the morning outside Carlos ‘N Charlie’s, a popular island nightspot. She had been seen climbing into a gray Honda Civic with three young men. At least one of Natalee’s friends shouted at her not to go and told her to come back into the bar. She yelled back that she would be all right. A moment later the car pulled away and disappeared into the night.
That was a little more than two years ago and none of Natalee’s friends or family have seen her since.
Within hours of landing on Aruba Natalee’s parents had the name and address of one of the three young men with whom Natalee’s friends had last seen her. Led by a sympathetic islander, Beth and her husband confronted 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot in the driveway of his parents’ home. With Joran was his father, Paulus van der Sloot, a member of the Aruban judiciary, and 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe, one of the other young men who had left Carlos ‘N Charlie’s with Natalee.
Holding a picture of Natalee in her hand, Beth, Natalee’s mother, walked straight up to Joran, whose image she had seen on a hotel casino surveillance tape earlier that night, and said to him, “Tell me where my daughter is!”
On June 9—ten days after Natalee disappeared—Aruban police arrested Joran and the Kalpoe brothers on suspicion of murdering Natalee.
Under intense police questioning, Joran told a different story than the one he’d told Beth and Jug Twitty while standing in his driveway. The change to the story was the first of several he would make as he reshaped the telling of his time with Natalee.
Joran said he met Natalee at Carlos ‘N Charlie’s Sunday night, May 30. She wanted him to dance with her, he said, but he declined her offer. According to Joran, Natalee kept pursuing him.
“She was like, come on, we’ll go take a jelly shot,” Joran said during an ABC News television interview. “So she took me by the hand and she took me to the bar. And she jumped on the bar and laid down and told the bartender to, to give me a jelly shot to put in her bellybutton and take a jelly shot off her.”
After Joran sucked the shot of rum from Natalee’s navel, the two of them piled into Deepak’s Honda and headed to the beach. Deepak dropped them off near the Marriott Hotel and then he and his brother went home.
Joran said he and Natalee kissed and fooled around some on the beach.
“As I remember it,” Joran said during the same interview, “she was laying on top of me kissing (me) and we were touching each other. And I ended up-—she put her hands in my pants, and I put my hands in her pants and—that’s as far as it went.”
They didn’t have sex, Joran said. Natalee wanted to but he refused because he didn’t have protection. “I won’t have sex with a girl without a condom.”
After a while, Joran said he got tired. He had school in just a few hours. He claimed Natalee begged him to stay on the beach with her for the rest of the night. Teasing, he picked her up and tried to carry off the beach, but she insisted he put her down. Eventually, again according to Joran, he left Natalee on the beach. He placed a cell phone call to Deepak, who came and picked him up. The last time he saw Natalee she was sitting in the sand facing the ocean.
Joran said he lied about taking Natalee back to her hotel because he was scared. “I didn’t want anyone to know,” he told ABC News. “I didn’t want anyone to know I left her at the beach. I lied because, yeah, I was scared. I had a girlfriend at the time. I didn’t want my dad to think bad of me. I didn’t want my friends to think bad of me.”
What makes this bizarre situation even more bizarre is the following taped conversation between Van Der Sloot and his friends while they were arguing in the car.
On June 29, 2005, Joran and the Kalpoe brothers were left alone in the back seat of a police car. Unknown to them, the police were recording everything they said.
In a heated exchange, Deepak Kalpoe implies that it is Joran who needs to be worried if the police find Natalee.
From a translated transcript of the recording:
Deepak: They’re going to give you fifteen years if they find the girl.
Joran: For what? For what?
Deepak: That scholarship of yours. Byeeeeeeee. You can forget it.
(Joran had earned a scholarship to a school in the United States)
Joran: Yeah, by who? By you, retard. You know well that you did bad, otherwise you wouldn’t lie.
Both Brothers: aaiaaieaaieeaiee! (some type of screaming sound)
Joran: I should have killed you, retard. Shut your trap.
Deepak Kalpoe denied to police that he went back to the beach to pick up Joran. Satish Kalpoe has maintained all along that he went to sleep after he and his brother arrived home after dropping Joran and Natalee off at the beach. Computer login and cell phone records seem to support Deepak’s story
That left Joran with a problem and put him square in the middle of yet another lie.
To solve the problem, Joran again adjusted his story. He said he walked home from the beach, a 30 to 40 minute walk.
Later, Joran changed his story again. He called Deepak for a ride, he said, but Satish picked him up instead, in Deepak’s car.
Both Kalpoes steadfastly deny picking Joran up from the beach the morning Natalee disappeared.
Computer records seem to show that Joran logged onto the Internet from his home computer at 3:25 a.m. He sent a few instant messages to Deepak, went to his hotmail account, checked soccer scores on ESPN, and visited a couple of porn sites. He logged off sometime around 4:30 and caught the bus for school at 6:40 that morning.
On July 4, 2005, a judge ordered the release of Deepak and Satish Kalpoe but authorized the police to hold Joran for up to 60 more days.
Then on August 26, Aruban cops arrested the Kalpoes again, citing “new facts and circumstances” that implicated the brothers and others in “premeditated murder and rape.”
Joran remained in custody.
Six days later, on September 1, a judge ordered the police to release Joran. The next day, the judge ordered the release of the Kalpoe brothers.
Five days later, Joran left Aruba for The Netherlands to attend college.
Natalee remains missing and presumed dead.
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