Nearly 20 years after Natalee Holloway disappeared during a 2005 high school graduation trip with friends to the Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, Joran Van der Sloot finally admitted to murdering the teenager whose life was before her.
He admitted he violently smashed Natalee Holloway's head with a cinder block on a beach after she left the bar with him. They kissed on the beach and she then rejected his further sexual advances.
Van der Shoot refused to take no for an answer. Holloway kicked van der Shoot in the crouch. He knocked her back and out cold with his foot to her face. He then picked up the cinder block and smashed Holloway’s head. Next, Van der Sloot moved her body to the sea and dumped it in knee-deep water.
For the last 18 years, Natalee's Mother, Beth Holloway, and her family have fought tenaciously for justice and the truth about what happened that fatal night. Holloway’s body has never been recovered.
“It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off,” Beth Holloway said.
Painful does not fully describe the treacherous and emotional rollercoaster of this investigation and the subsequent investigations involving yet another murder of a young Peruvian woman who fell into the crosshairs of Van der Shoot, and his attempt to extort $250,000 from Holloway’s parents.
For years, Holloway’s parents and family and their attorney, John Q. Kelly, have worked vigilantly to bring justice to this tragic case.
Rumors and theories have been rapid even to the possibility of Holloway having been possibly trafficked, or buried on the island.
Van der Sloot was under suspicion, along with two Surinamese brothers living on Aruba. Van der Sloot was arrested twice, but the charges did not stick. He fled Aruba after the extortion and eventually landed in Peru where he developed a serious gambling issue.
Van der Sloot, now 36, pleaded guilty to the extortion and wire fraud charges, and as part of his plea deal he was required to come clean about how he killed Holloway.
On Wednesday in an Alabama courtroom, the defendant was sentenced to 20 years. He will serve that sentence in Peru where he is currently serving a 28-years sentence for the second murder of Stephany Flores. He confessed to Peruvian officials in 2012 that he had smothered and strangled Flores in a hotel room in 2010. His U.S. sentence for extortion will run concurrently and will be served out back in Peru.
A 2001 extradition treaty between the U.S. and Peru allowed Van der Sloot to be extradited to the U.S. this past June for the extortion charges.
“You didn't get what you wanted from Natalee, your sexual satisfaction, so you brutally killed her,” said Beth Holloway to the defendant in court.
The confessed murderer tormented Holloway’s parents for years by sending chilling emails to their attorney, John Q. Kelly, in which he offered to tell the parents the whereabouts of their daughter's body in exchange for $250,000.
“I want this monkey off my back just as much as I know Natalees (sic) parents want to bring her home,” Van der Sloot wrote in emails to John Q. Kelly in 2010.
“If you have someone come meet me in Aruba, I will do the right thing... this situation hurts everyone involved and will continue to do so until it's over. I will take you to Natalee but I do not want it to be known the information came from me,” he added. “In return I want to receive 250,000$. If you are interested I will give you more details and we can arrange it.”
Kelly moved into action and worked with the FBI in a sting operation in 2010. Holloway's parents wired a portion of the extortion monies to van der Sloot, and then he provided false information about where Holloway's body was buried. Subsequently, he fled from Aruba to Peru before he could be arrested for the extortion charges.
For nearly two decades, this case captivated the public's attention in books, movies and on podcasts.
When Beth Holloway addressed her daughter's killer in court, she looked him in the eyes and said: “You look like hell, Joran. I do not see how you're gonna make it ... You are a killer and I want you to remember that every time that jail door slams.”
“You have brutally murdered two women who refused your sexual advances ... You knew the information you were selling was an absolute lie,” District Judge Anna M. Manasco said to the defendant.
Beth and her son Matt Holloway spoke to the press outside the courthouse after the sentencing hearing, and told them that Van der Sloot claimed he acted alone.
As part of the plea agreement, Holloway’s parents were allowed to hear Van der Sloot’s confession in “real-time.” Van der Sloot was administered a polygraph test which he passed.
Before his sentencing in court, Van der Shoot made a statement.
"I would like to take this chance to apologize to the Holloway family, to apologize to my own family, to say I hope the statement I provided brings some kind of closure to everyone involved. I am no longer that person I was back then, I've given my heart to Jesus Christ,” said the defendant.
“I still miss her every day, we finally got the answers we've been searching for." Beth said. "Finally today we get justice for Natalee.”
Van der Sloot, 36, was extradited to Birmingham , Alabama in June from Peru, where he was serving a 28-year sentence after confessing to killing Stephany Flores in 2010
The extortion charges are the only charges to have ever linked the Dutch citizen to Holloway's disappearance. While he is not charged with murder, he remains the chief suspect in the case.
Following the 2010 emails, Van der Sloot said Holloway was buried in the gravel under the foundation of a house, but later admitted that was untrue, FBI Agent William K. Bryan wrote in a 2010 sworn statement filed in the case.
They said he killed her with 'ferocity' and 'cruelty,' beating then strangling her in his hotel room. He pleaded guilty in 2012.
A 2001 treaty between Peru and the U.S. allows a suspect temporarily extradited to face trial in another country.
Holloway´s body was never found, and no charges were filed in the case.
In 2012, a judge declared Holloway dead.
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