Joran van der Sloot admitted to killing Natalee Holloway 18 years ago10/20/2023
18 years after her disappearance, there’s finally justice for Natalee Holloway. For a quick refresher on one of the more infamous true crime stories from the last two decades, Natalee Holloway was 18 years old when she went to Aruba in May 2005 on a senior class trip. She was last seen leaving a nightclub with 18-year-old Dutch national Joran van der Sloot. Although he was arrested twice on suspicion of being involved with her disappearance and presumed death, van der Sloot was released each time for lack of evidence.
On the five year anniversary of Natalee’s disappearance, Joran murdered another young woman, which he was later convicted of and is currently serving time in prison for. The thing that brought about this confession, however, was charges of federal wire fraud and extortion. That psychopath actually tried to make Natalee’s mother pay him $25,000 in exchange for info on where her daughter’s body was. He didn’t get his $25k, but he did get a plea deal! The main condition of this deal was to finally tell Beth Holloway the full truth about her daughter’s death. And this is just the condensed version. It’s been nearly two decades of twists and turns that have kept authorities, journalists and true crime podcast hosts busy. But now, finally, Natalee’s family has answers.
It’s been a long time coming, but Beth Holloway finally knows what happened to her daughter Natalee in Aruba, back in 2005.
Joran van der Sloot, the now 36-year-old man long believed to be responsible for Natalee Holloway’s death pleaded guilty Wednesday in a Birmingham federal courtroom to wire fraud and extortion charges. As part of the plea deal, van der Sloot agreed to tell Beth Holloway how her daughter died and where her body was stashed.
Natalee went missing on a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island. Van der Sloot was the last person to be seen with the 18-year-old. Though he was a suspect from the beginning, Aruba authorities never managed to build a case.
In the United States, however, federal prosecutors in Alabama had charged van der Sloot with extortion and wire fraud in 2010, while he was already in prison in Peru for a killing a college student, Stephany Flores, in his hotel room in Lima. In the indictment, the U.S. government said van der Sloot had attempted to get $250,000 from Beth Holloway in exchange for information and details in Natalee’s death.
“Today, the United States held Joran van der Sloot accountable for his scheme to exploit a mother looking for information about her missing daughter,” U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona said in a statement.
For Beth Holloway, it wasn’t the guilty plea she would have liked to see. “I can tell you with certainty that after 18 years, Natalie’s case is solved as far as I’m concerned,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. “It’s over, it’s over. Joran van der Sloot is no longer the suspect in my daughter’s murder. He is the killer.”
Holloway said specific details about what van der Sloot did the night he killed her daughter would come later. But she spoke in court that he bludgeoned her after she rebuffed his sexual advances and dumped her body in the ocean. Addressing van der Sloot directly she said, “You are a killer and I want you to remember that every time you hear that cell door close.”
A judge sentenced van der Sloot to 20 years in a U.S. federal prison. First he will be returned to Peru to complete serving time for the murder of Flores. If he serves more than 20 years there, he will not need to return to the U.S. to finish his sentence for extortion and wire fraud.
So there you have it. After nearly two decades of headlines, Natalee’s family finally knows what happened to her. I was in college, going on trips and spring break with my own friends when Natalee disappeared, and I remember how it was such a huge, international story. What happened to her is a woman’s worst nightmare. It’s so scary and awful. Natalee’s mom believes van der Sloot’s latest account to be the truth and although the Holloway family may never truly heal from their loss, I hope having answers will give them closure.
I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t acknowledge that Natalee’s story got attention because she was a young, pretty, white woman who fits the description of a victim that the media is more likely to give attention to. This doesn’t make Natalee’s death any less tragic. I hope van der Sloot rots for what he did to her and his second victim. I just think it’s important to also acknowledge that young BIWOC also deserve to have the same level of attention and desire for justice that the world gave to Natalee. I’ve heard some of their stories through true crime podcasts and think it’s really great that there is a medium that can get their stories out there, as well.
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Photos via social media, Getty and Holloway family
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