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Reporter Claims to Crack Natalee Holloway Case
Aruba Reopens Investigation Into Teen's Disappearance
By JESSICA VELMANS
January 31, 2008 10:04:28 AM PST
After a Dutch journalist declared that his private investigation had solved the mysterious disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway, the chief prosecutor in Aruba announced today that he is reopening the case.
Van der Sloot Confronts Reporter
Reporter Peter R. de Vries said he used a sophisticated network of hidden cameras in what he called an "undercover operation" to obtain evidence that he claimed "has solved the mystery" of Holloway's disappearance on May 30, 2005.
The mystery behind the disappearance of the blond teenager has eluded efforts by the Aruba police and even the FBI for more than two years.
De Vries said he showed some of the key pieces of evidence to the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Aruba, Jan. 24, and the island's chief prosecutor, Hans Mos, announced today that he has "intensified [the] investigation of Natalee Holloway due to recently received information."
Mos had publicly closed the investigation last month after an exhausting and often frustrating two-year probe.
"This information may shed a new light on the mode of which Natalee Holloway has died and the method by which her body disappeared," Mos said today.
He credited de Vries with uncovering the leads and said, "This information may help considerably in the solution of the mystery of Natalee's disappearance."
De Vries said that he and his team had been conducting an undercover operation for several months, and that he would broadcast his findings in a special program on Dutch television this Sunday.
The only piece of the upcoming program the de Vries would release was a conversation between himself and Mos after he showed police the evidence he had collected. "Am I sitting opposite a happy man now?" de Vries asks Mos. The prosecutor is shown answering, "Now at least the truth is surfacing and with that we can at least wrap up this case."
The Alabama teenager disappeared after a boozy night in an Aruban nightclub during a high school graduation trip. She was last seen outside Carols 'n Charlies bar with Joran van der Sloot, who is from Holland, and the brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, from Aruba. They have twice been arrested, denied any involvement in her disappearance, and released due to lack of evidence.
After his latest release, Van der Sloot did a television interview with de Vries earlier this month where the reporter challenged his honesty. Van der Sloot was calm during the interview, but after the cameras were turned off he threw a glass of wine in de Vries' face.
The incident prompted de Vries to comment, "He doesn't have complete control over his behavior."
Footage claims to solve Aruba mystery
By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 44 minutes ago
Hidden camera footage broadcast in the Netherlands on Sunday showed Dutch student Joran Van der Sloot saying he was with Natalee Holloway when she collapsed on a beach in Aruba. He said he believed she was dead and asked a friend to dump her body in the sea.
"She'll never be found," he said.
A series of conversations between Van der Sloot and a man he believed to be his friend were recorded in a Range Rover that had been rigged with three hidden cameras by Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch television crime reporter. They were shown on Dutch television.
Last week, Van der Sloot said he was lying in those conversations and denied that he had anything to do with the Alabama teenager's disappearance.
Holloway, 18, vanished in May 2005 just before she was due to fly home to Alabama, at the end of her high school graduation trip to the Caribbean island. No trace of her has been found. The mystery of her disappearance has frustrated authorities and garnered wide attention on television and in tabloid newspapers in Europe and the United States.
In the recordings, Van der Sloot said Holloway was drunk and that she began shaking and slumped down on the beach as the pair were making out.
"Suddenly she started shaking and then she didn't say anything," Van der Sloot said, adding that he did not kill her.
"I would never murder a girl," he said.
He said he panicked and tried but failed to revive her. He said that Holloway looked dead but that he could not be sure she was not still alive when the friend took her away.
He used a pay phone next to a hotel's swimming pool to call the friend and asked for help in disposing the body. When the friend arrived at the beach, the two put Holloway's body into a boat. The friend then took it out to sea and pushed it into the water, Van der Sloot said.
"The ocean is big," he added.
He said he and his friend agreed that Van der Sloot would go to school the next day to avoid arousing any suspicion.
Van der Sloot said his friend assured him he had taken care of Holloway's body and that the police were not going to locate it. "They will know nothing," Van der Sloot quoted the friend as telling him.
"I've not lost any sleep over this," he added at one point.
Aruban prosecutors said last week they were reopening their investigation into Holloway's disappearance after seeing De Vries' material. But on Sunday, they said a judge on the island had ruled that while the information merited an investigation against Van der Sloot, it did not meet the threshold for an arrest warrant.
"This means that the office is legally not able to have J.v.d.S. arrested in the Netherlands," prosecutors said in a statement, referring to the Dutch student by his initials. The statement did not say when the judge made the ruling.
The prosecutors said they would appeal the judge's ruling and seek to have the Dutch student re-arrested. They also cautioned that the Holloway mystery was far from resolved.
"While video tape may present a strong case in a TV news show, it may be insufficient for a finding of guilt by a judge. It is up to the court to evaluate the materials and the statements, and to find out their significance," prosecutors said.
Van der Sloot was interviewed last week by the respected Dutch television show "Pauw & Witteman" following reports that De Vries had captured him making statements about the case.
"It is true I told someone. Everybody will see it Sunday," Van der Sloot said, referring to De Vries' planned television show.
"That is what he wanted to hear, so I told him what he wanted to hear," Van der Sloot said, adding that he had built up a relationship with the man he spoke to, but had never fully trusted him.
De Vries has said he paid the man Van der Sloot spoke to, Patrick van der Eem, $37,000 for his help, saying it was to cover his expenses.
Phone calls seeking comment from Van der Sloot's Aruban attorneys and his New York-based lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, went unanswered Sunday.
Last week, Tacopina told The Associated Press that "the evidence refutes what Joran supposedly said."
"It doesn't change the truth of this case. And the truth is, Joran had nothing to do with Natalee's death," he said.
Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Ala., was last seen in public leaving a bar with Van der Sloot and two Surinamese brothers — Deepak and Satish Kalpoe — hours before she was due to board a flight home.
The three were re-arrested in November, but released within weeks for lack of evidence. All three have always denied any role in her disappearance.
The Dutch student's father, Paul Van der Sloot, declined to comment when reached in Aruba before the tape aired.
De Vries also aired images of Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, as he showed her the footage.
Clasping together her hands, she moved her lips silently as she watched the images.
"They could have just dumped her alive in the ocean, unconscious," she said. "They don't even know."
"I hope his living hell is about to begin and that he never gets another night's sleep," she added.
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