ARUBA, Dutch West Indies, Thursday May 14, 2015 – Almost ten years after American teenager Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba while celebrating her high school graduation, her father Dave Holloway is back on the island investigating a new claim from a purported eyewitness.
The Alabama schoolgirl was 18 when she disappeared on May 30, 2005. A decade later, her parents have not given up on securing justice for their daughter.
The prime suspect has long been Joran van der Sloot, who is in jail in Peru for the 2010 murder of business student Stephany Flores in a Lima hotel room.
Natalee’s father is convinced van der Sloot killed his daughter, but his latest quest is to find her body and investigate the new eyewitness claim.
— WIS News 10 (@wis10) May 13, 2015
Island resident Jurrien de Jong told the syndicated TV programme Inside Edition that he had seen Natalee “on the last night she was alive.”
“I saw that Joran was chasing Natalee into a small building under construction,” De Jong said.
“In about five minutes he came out with Natalee in his arms, and slammed the body of Natalee on the floor, and then he made an opening in a crawl space . . . I knew she was dead.”
Natalee was last seen in public leaving a bar with van der Sloot, who was 17 years old at the time of her disappearance.
De Jong told Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad earlier this year that he had not come forward sooner as he was involved in illegal drug activity at the time and did not want to go to the police.
According to Inside Edition, he was nevertheless moved to speak out after seeing a report in which van der Sloot told an undercover investigator that Natalee was buried at sea, which he believed was a lie.
Now, working with an investigator and a cadaver dog, Dave is determined to find out if there is any truth to the latest claim. The search for justice for his daughter has taken several cruel twists in the past, with several supposed leads going nowhere, including conflicting statements from van der Sloot, who was arrested twice but never charged.
Van der Sloot has claimed to have left a drunken Natalee alone on a beach; he was caught on hidden camera confessing to the killing; and he once told Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren that he sold her into slavery.
Adding insult to injury, he has been charged with trying to extort US$250,000 from Natalee’s mother, Beth Holloway, by claiming he could lead her to her daughter’s remains.
Dave and Beth Holloway had divorced several years before their daughter disappeared.
— Kara Kennedy (@KaraKennedy) March 14, 2015
Van der Sloot is serving a 28-year sentence in Peru for the 2010 murder of Flores. On completion of this sentence, he faces extradition to the US, where he will answer to the charges of extorting and defrauding Beth Holloway.
Natalee’s disappearance and presumed death nevertheless remains officially unsolved.
Aruba’s prosecutor Eric Olthof told Inside Edition that his office is investigating the new claims and expected his investigation could take as long as two months.
“I always thought the answer was right around the corner,” Dave Holloway told the Huffington Post in March. “Here we are, nearly 10 years later, and we still don’t know.”