Crime

Natalee Holloway's father, Meridian resident dismisses alleged confession

The Meridian Star

Natalee Holloway
Natalee Holloway AP

An alleged videotaped confession by Joran van der Sloot, the chief suspect in the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway, is nothing more than a moneymaking scheme, according to her father, Meridian resident Dave Holloway.

"He's confessed and said a lot of different things over the years," Holloway said Friday about van der Sloot, a Dutchman raised in Aruba.

"It's all about money with him. I'm pretty sure that was a setup deal; he needed a little cash. Somebody paid him a little bit of money so they can print newspapers and tabloids to get him through the harsh winter he's going to face in prison."

Natalee Holloway was on a high school graduation trip when she vanished May 30, 2005. The then 18-year-old from Alabama was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot.

Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to the 2010 murder of a woman in Peru killed five years to the day after Natalee Holloway disappeared, according to the Associated Press. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

"He is in Challapalca Prison, one of the worst prisons in the world," Holloway said. "They don't have any running water, no electricity, no heating or anything like that. Their winter is starting about now, and some of the temperatures get way below zero. He might be in need of a sleeping bag or something."

While media reports say van der Sloot's recent confession to killing Natalee Holloway is a secret recording, Holloway said he believes otherwise.

"It appears he knows he's being recorded; I just don't know," Holloway said, clearly frustrated with van der Sloot.

"He's confessed before and retracted it," he said. "It's really meaningless; there's nothing they can do. In Aruba -- unless you have to have a signed, written statement, and there has to be evidence that he really did it there's nothing that can be done," Holloway said. "Whereas in the United States if you open your mouth and say something, they can hold that against you and prosecute you."

And while he admits such tactics are difficult for the family and reopens old wounds, Holloway continues to seek justice for his daughter Natalee.

During a May 2015 interview with The Star -- a few days before the 10-year-milestone of her disappearance -- Holloway spoke about a recent visit to Aruba. It was his first time back to the Caribbean island since 2010.

"The first year Natalee went missing, I was there three or four months off and on. And then I would go there several times a year in the following years as new leads would come up," he said in the interview.

When a new prosecutor in Aruba took over the case, reviewed the files and contacted Holloway about a tip, he said he decided to return.

"The new prosecutor allowed some of the Dutch people in Holland to review the 2,000 pages of police files and they called me and said, 'We see some discrepancies in this police investigation and thought we would call you and ask some questions," Holloway said. "'And by the way, there's this supposed witness who says she's buried under the Marriott Hotel in Aruba.'"

According to a story published by The Associated Press about Holloway's return to Aruba, the witness, identified as Jurrien de Jong, insisted Natalee Holloway was buried under a staircase of the Marriott Hotel in Aruba.

Holloway said when he spoke to de Jong in 2008, he did not believe the story. When the witness restated the story several years later, Holloway said he was still skeptical, but decided to go see if there was any merit to it.

According to the AP story about Holloway's return visit, de Jong's claims led chief prosecutor Eric Olthof to ask Aruba police to contact Marriott's management office in Orlando, Fla., to determine when the hotel's Spyglass Tower and its staircase was built. Marriott officials said neither the tower, not its staircase had been built when Holloway disappeared, prosecutors said.

"This means that Natalee Holloway could never have been hidden and/or buried there," officials said in a statement, according to the AP. "This leads to the conclusion that the claims made by Mr. de Jong ... cannot be correct, and that his testimony ... does not add to the solving of this case."

However, in last year's interview with The Star, Holloway said Google Earth listed a different construction date -- June 2005, less than 30 days from Natalee's disappearance.

"The building had already started," Holloway said. "It's like, 'What's going on here?' So, we're looking at that now to see if that is true or if something else is going on."

While it appears the family may never find out what happened to Natalee, her father said he will leave no stone unturned.

"You have to follow up on all the leads," Holloway said. "Until it's ever resolved, I guess we will have to live with them (leads)."

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