Natalee Ann Holloway (October 21, 1986 – c. May 30, 2005) was an American woman whose disappearance made international news after she vanished on May 30, 2005, while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba in the Caribbean. She lived in Mountain Brook, Alabama, and graduated from Mountain Brook High School on May 24, 2005, shortly before the trip. Her disappearance set off a media sensation in the U.S., and the case is still unsolved.
Holloway was scheduled to fly home from Aruba on May 30, 2005, but failed to appear for her flight. She was last seen by her classmates outside of Carlos'n Charlie's, a restaurant and nightclub in Oranjestad, in a car with local residents Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, Deepak and Satish. When police questioned the three men, they said they'd dropped her off at her hotel and denied knowing anything else. Authorities investigated further, arresting Van der Sloot twice on suspicion of involvement in her disappearance. The Kalpoes were each arrested three times. Due to lack of evidence, the three suspects were released each time without being charged with anything.
Aided by hundreds of volunteers, Aruban investigators conducted an extensive search. American special agents from the FBI, fifty Dutch soldiers and three specially-equipped Dutch Air Force F-16 aircraft also took part. Divers combed the ocean floor for Holloway's body. Her remains were not found. On December 18, 2007, Aruban prosecutors closed the case without filing any charges. The Aruban prosecutor's office reopened the case on February 1, 2008, after receiving video footage of Van der Sloot, under the influence of marijuana, saying that Holloway died on the morning of her disappearance, and that a friend had disposed of her body. Van der Sloot later denied the veracity of his own confession, and in an interview said that he had sold Holloway into sexual slavery. He later retracted these comments too. In 2012, Van der Sloot was convicted of the May 30, 2010, murder of Stephany Flores Ramírez in Lima, Peru.
At the request of Natalee's father, Alabama judge Alan King declared Holloway legally dead in absentia on January 12, 2012.
Holloway was the first of two children born to Dave and Elizabeth "Beth" Holloway (1961–) in Clinton, Mississippi. Her parents divorced in 1993, and she and her younger brother Matthew were raised by their mother. In 2000, Beth married George "Jug" Twitty, a prominent Alabama businessman; and the family moved to Mountain Brook, Alabama. Holloway graduated with honors from Mountain Brook High School, located in a wealthy suburb of Birmingham. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the school dance squad and participated in other extracurricular activities. Holloway was scheduled to attend the University of Alabama on a full scholarship, where she planned to pursue a pre-med track. At the time of his daughter's disappearance, Dave Holloway was an insurance agent for State Farm in Meridian, Mississippi, while Beth Twitty was employed by the Mountain Brook School System.
On Thursday, May 26, 2005, Holloway and 124 fellow graduates of Mountain Brook High School arrived in Aruba for a five-day, unofficial graduation trip. The teenagers were accompanied by seven chaperones. According to teacher and chaperone Bob Plummer, the chaperones met with the students each day to make sure everything was fine. Jodi Bearman, who organized the trip, stated, "the chaperones were not supposed to keep up with their every move."
Police Commissioner Gerold Dompig, who headed the investigation from mid-2005 until 2006, stated that the Mountain Brook students engaged in "wild partying, a lot of drinking, lots of room switching every night. We know the Holiday Inn told them they weren't welcome next year. Natalee, we know, she drank all day every day. We have statements she started every morning with cocktails — so much drinking that Natalee didn't show up for breakfast two mornings." Two of Holloway's classmates, Liz Cain and Claire Fierman, "agreed that the drinking was kind of excessive."
Holloway was last seen by her classmates around 1:30 a.m. on Monday, May 30, as she was leaving the Oranjestad bar and nightclub Carlos'n Charlie's. She left in a car with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot — a Dutch honors student who was living in Aruba and attending the International School of Aruba — and his two Surinamese friends, 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe (the owner of the car) and 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe. Holloway was scheduled to fly home later that day, but she didn't appear for her return flight. Her packed luggage and passport were found in her Holiday Inn room. Aruban authorities began searches for Holloway throughout the island and surrounding waters but didn't find her.
Immediately following Holloway's missed flight, Jug and Beth Twitty and friends flew to Aruba by private jet. Within four hours of landing on the island, the Twittys presented the Aruban police with the name and address of Van der Sloot as the person with whom Holloway left the nightclub. Beth stated that Van der Sloot's full name was given to her by the night manager at the Holiday Inn, who supposedly recognized him on a videotape. The Twittys and their friends went to the Van der Sloot home with two Aruban policemen to look for Holloway. Van der Sloot initially denied knowing Holloway's name, but he then told the following story, which was corroborated by Deepak Kalpoe, who was present in the house: Van der Sloot related that they drove Holloway to the California Lighthouse area of Arashi Beach because she wanted to see sharks; they later dropped Holloway off at her hotel at around 2:00 a.m. According to Van der Sloot, Holloway fell down as she exited the car but refused his help. He stated that as he and Kalpoe were driving away, Holloway was approached by a dark man in a black shirt similar to those worn by security guards.
The search and rescue efforts for Holloway began immediately. Hundreds of volunteers from Aruba and the United States joined in the effort. During the first days of the search, the Aruban government gave thousands of civil servants the day off to participate in the rescue effort. Fifty Dutch marines conducted an extensive search of the shoreline. Aruban banks raised $20,000 and provided other support to aid volunteer search teams. Beth Twitty was provided with housing, initially at the Holiday Inn where she coincidentally stayed in the same room her daughter had occupied. She subsequently stayed at the nearby Wyndham Hotel's presidential suite.
Reports indicated that Holloway did not appear on any nighttime surveillance camera footage of her hotel's lobby; however, Twitty has made varying statements as to whether the cameras were operational that night. According to an April 19, 2006, statement made by Twitty, the video cameras at the Holiday Inn were not functioning the night Holloway vanished. Twitty has made other statements indicating that they were working, and has stated so in her book. Police Commissioner Jan van der Straaten — the initial head of the investigation until his 2005 retirement — said that Holloway did not have to go through the lobby to return to her room.
The search for physical evidence was extensive and subject to occasional false leads; for example, a possible blood sample taken from Deepak Kalpoe's car was tested but determined not to be blood.
From the early days of the investigation, American law enforcement participated in wide-ranging involvement in the case. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated to reporters that the U.S. was in constant contact with Aruban authorities. Another State Department official indicated, "Substantial resources are being applied to this as they continue to ask for more."
On June 5, Aruban police detained Nick John and Abraham Jones, former security guards from the nearby Allegro Hotel (which was then closed for renovation) on suspicion of murder and kidnapping. Authorities have never officially disclosed the reason for their arrests; but, according to news accounts, statements made by Van der Sloot and Kalpoe may have been a factor in the arrests of John and Jones. Reports also indicated that the two former guards were known for cruising hotels to pick up women, and at least one of them had a prior incident with law enforcement. John and Jones were released on June 13 without being charged.
On June 9, 2005, Van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Holloway. Aruban law allows for investigators to make an arrest based on serious suspicion. In order to continue holding the suspect in custody, an increasing evidential burden must be met at periodic reviews. According to Dompig, the focus of the investigation centered on these three suspects from the "get-go". Dompig stated that close observation of the three men began three days after Holloway was reported missing, and the investigation included surveillance, telephone wiretaps, and even monitoring of their e-mail. Dompig indicated that pressure from Holloway's family caused the police to prematurely stop their surveillance and detain the three suspects.
As the investigation continued, David Cruz — spokesman for the Aruban Minister of Justice — falsely stated on June 11 that Holloway was dead and that authorities knew where her body was. Cruz later retracted the statement, saying he was a victim of a "misinformation campaign." That evening, Dompig alleged to the Associated Press that one of the detained young men admitted "something bad happened" to Holloway after the suspects took her to the beach and that the suspect was leading police to the scene. The next morning, prosecution spokeswoman Vivian van der Biezen refused to confirm or deny the allegation, simply stating that the investigation was at a "very crucial, very important moment."
On Friday, June 17, a sixth person later identified as disc jockey Steve Gregory Croes was also arrested. Van der Straaten told the media that "Croes was detained based on information from one of the other three detainees." On June 22, Aruban police detained Joran's father Paulus van der Sloot for questioning; Paulus was arrested that same day. Both Paulus van der Sloot and Croes were ordered to be released on June 26.
During this period, the detained suspects changed their stories. All three indicated that Van der Sloot and Holloway were dropped off at the Marriott Hotel beach near the fishermen's huts. Van der Sloot stated that he did not harm Holloway but left her on the beach. According to Satish Kalpoe's attorney, David Kock, Van der Sloot called Deepak Kalpoe to tell the latter that he was walking home and sent him a text message forty minutes later. At some time during the interrogation, Van der Sloot detailed a third account that he was dropped off at home and Holloway was driven off by the Kalpoe brothers. Dompig discounted the story:
This latest story when [he] saw the other guys, the Kalpoes, were kind of finger-pointing in his direction, and he wanted to screw them also, by saying he was dropped off. But that story doesn't check out at all. He just wanted to screw Deepak. They had great arguments about this in front of the judge. Because their stories didn't match. This girl, she was from Alabama, she's not going to stay in the car with two black kids. We believe the second story, that they were dropped off by the Marriott.
Following hearings before a judge, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were released on Monday, July 4; but Van der Sloot was held another sixty days.
On July 4, the Royal Netherlands Air Force deployed three F-16 aircraft equipped with infrared sensors to aid in the search, but they came up empty. In March 2006 satellite photos were reportedly being compared with photographs taken more recently (presumably from the F-16s) in an attempt to find unexpected shifts of ground that might be Holloway's grave.
After an individual ("the gardener") came forward with information, a small pond near the Aruba Racquet Club close to the Marriott Hotel beach was partly drained between July 27 and 30, 2005. According to Jug Twitty, the gardener claimed to have seen Van der Sloot attempting to hide his face as he drove into the Racquet Club with the Kalpoe brothers on the very early morning of May 30 between 2:30 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. Nancy Grace described the gardener as "the man whose testimony cracks the case wide open". Another person, "the jogger", claimed to have seen men burying a blonde-haired woman in a landfill during the afternoon of May 30. The police had searched the landfill in the days following Holloway's disappearance. After the jogger's statements, the landfill was searched three more times; the FBI used cadaver dogs to assist in the recovery operation. The searches turned up nothing.
Following Holloway's disappearance on May 30, 2005, the family offered $175,000 and donors offered $50,000 for her safe return. Two months later, the reward was increased from $200,000 to $1,000,000, with a $100,000 reward for information leading to the location of her remains. In August 2005, the reward for information leading to Natalee's corpse was increased from $100,000 to $250,000.
The FBI announced that Aruban authorities had provided its agency with documents, suspect interviews, and other evidence. Investigators found a piece of duct tape with strands of blond hair attached to it; the samples were tested at a Dutch lab. A group from the Aruban police and prosecutor's office traveled to the FBI central lab at Quantico to consult with American investigators. The hair samples were tested a second time. The FBI announced that the hair samples did not belong to Holloway.
The Kalpoe brothers were rearrested on August 26 along with another new suspect, 21-year-old Freddy Arambatzis. Arambatzis' lawyer said his client was suspected of taking photographs of an underage girl and also of having inappropriate physical contact with the same girl. The incident allegedly occurred before the Holloway disappearance. Van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers were supposedly involved in the incident. Van der Sloot's mother, Anita, stated, "It's a desperate attempt to get the boys to talk. But there is nothing to talk about." While no public explanation was made for the Kalpoe rearrests, Dompig later said it was a futile attempt to pressure the Kalpoe brothers into confessing.
On September 3, 2005, the four suspects were released by a judge despite prosecution efforts to keep them in custody. The suspects were released on the condition that they remain available to police. On September 14, all restrictions were dropped by authorities.
In the following months, Van der Sloot gave several interviews giving his version of events. The most notable discussion included a lengthy interview with Fox News that aired over three nights in March 2006, when Van der Sloot indicated that Holloway wanted to have sex with him, but he did not because he didn't have a condom. Van der Sloot stated that Holloway wanted them to stay on the beach, but that he had to go to school in the morning. According to Van der Sloot, he was picked up by Satish Kalpoe at about 3:00 am and left Holloway sitting on the beach. In August 2005, David Kock, Kalpoe's attorney, said that his client had gone to sleep, and had not returned to drive Van der Sloot home. Van der Sloot stated that he was somewhat ashamed to have left a young woman alone on the beach, even if it was at her own request, and related that he was not truthful at first because he was convinced that Holloway would soon turn up.
In January 2006, the FBI and Aruban authorities interviewed — or, sometimes, re-interviewed — several of Holloway's fellow classmates in Alabama. On January 17, Aruban police searched for Holloway's body in sand dunes on the northwest coast of Aruba, as well as areas close by the Marriott beach. More searches took place in March and April 2006, without result.
Shortly before leaving the case, Dompig gave an interview to CBS in which he stated that he believed Holloway probably died from alcohol and/or drug poisoning, was not murdered, and that someone later hid her body. Dompig also stated that Aruba had poured $3 million into the investigation, which was about 40% of the police operational budget. There was, he said, evidence that pointed to possession (though not necessarily use) of illicit drugs by Holloway. Holloway's family has challenged this assertion.
On April 11, 2006, Dave Holloway published his book — co-authored with R. Stephanie Good and Larry Garrison — entitled Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise, that recounted the search for his daughter.
On April 15, 2006, Geoffrey van Cromvoirt was arrested by Aruban authorities on suspicion of criminal offenses related to dealing in narcotics which, according to the prosecutor, might have been related to the disappearance of Holloway. At his first court appearance, his detention was extended by eight days. Von Cromvoirt was released, however, on April 25. In addition, another individual with initials "A.B." was arrested on April 22, but was released the same day.
On May 17, 2006, another suspect, Guido Wever (the son of a former Aruban politician) was detained in the Netherlands on suspicion of assisting in the abducting, battering, and killing of Holloway. He was questioned for six days in Utrecht. Aruban prosecutors initially sought his transfer to the island, but he was instead released by agreement between the prosecutor and Wever's attorney.
At Aruba's request, the Netherlands took over the investigation. Following receipt of extensive case documentation in Rotterdam, a team of the Dutch National Police started work on the case in September 2006. On April 16, 2007, a combined Aruban–Dutch team began pursuing the investigation in Aruba.
A book by Van der Sloot and reporter Zvezdana Vukojevic, De zaak Natalee Holloway (The Case of Natalee Holloway) was published in Dutch in April 2007. In it, Van der Sloot gives his perspective of the night Holloway disappeared and the media frenzy that followed. He admits to and apologizes for his initial untruths, but maintains his innocence.
On April 27, 2007, a new search involving approximately 20 investigators was launched at the Van der Sloot family residence in Aruba. Dutch authorities searched the yard and surrounding area, using shovels and thin metal rods to penetrate the dirt. Prosecution spokeswoman Van der Biezen stated, "The investigation has never stopped and the Dutch authorities are completely reviewing the case for new indications." A statement from the prosecutor's office related, "The team has indications that justify a more thorough search." Investigators did not comment on what prompted the new search, except that it was not related to Van der Sloot's book. According to Paulus van der Sloot, "nothing suspicious" was found, and all that was seized were diary entries of him and his wife, and his personal computer — which was later returned. According to Jossy Mansur, managing editor of Aruba's Diario newspaper, investigators followed up on statements made during early suspect interrogations regarding communications between the Kalpoe brothers and Van der Sloot. He also said investigators could be seen examining a laptop at the house.
On May 12, 2007, the Kalpoe family home was subject to a search. The two brothers were detained for about an hour upon objecting to the entry by police and Dutch investigators, but were released when the authorities left. According to Kock, the brothers objected to the search because officials did not show them an order justifying their intrusion. A statement from Van der Biezen did not mention what, if anything, officials were seeking, but indicated nothing was removed from the home. A subsequent statement from Het Openbaar Ministerie van Aruba (the Aruban prosecutor's office) revealed only that the purpose of the visit was to "get a better image of the place or circumstances where an offense may have been committed and to understand the chain of events leading to the offense."
Aruban investigators cited what was described as newly discovered evidence, and Van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers were rearrested November 21, 2007, on suspicion of involvement in "manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm that resulted in the death of Holloway." Van der Sloot was detained by Dutch authorities in the Netherlands, while the Kalpoe brothers were detained in Aruba. Van der Sloot returned to Aruba and was incarcerated.
In November 2007, Dave Holloway announced a new search for his daughter that probed the sea beyond the original 330-foot (100 m) depths in which earlier searches had taken place. That search involved a vessel called the Persistence and was abandoned due to lack of funds at the end of February 2008, when nothing noteworthy was found.
On November 30, 2007, a judge ordered the release of Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, despite attempts by the prosecution to extend their detention. The two brothers were released the next day. The prosecution appealed the Kalpoes' release, which was denied on December 5, 2007, with the court writing, "Notwithstanding expensive and lengthy investigations on her disappearance and on people who could be involved, the file against the suspect does not contain direct indications that Natalee passed away due to a violent crime." Van der Sloot was released without charge on December 7, 2007, due to lack of evidence implicating him as well as a lack of evidence that Holloway died as the result of a violent crime. The prosecution said it would not appeal.
On December 18, 2007, prosecutor Hans Mos officially declared the case closed, and that no charges would be filed due to lack of evidence. The prosecution indicated a continuing interest in the Kalpoes and Van der Sloot (though they legally ceased to be suspects), and alleged that one of the three, in a chat room message, had stated that Holloway was dead. This was hotly contested by Deepak Kalpoe's attorney, who stated that the prosecution, in translating from Papiamento to Dutch, had misconstrued a reference to a teacher who had drowned as one to Holloway. Attorney Ronald Wix also stated, "Unless (Mos) finds a body in the bathroom of one of these kids, there's no way in hell they can arrest them anymore."
On January 31, 2008, Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries claimed that he'd solved the Holloway case. De Vries stated that he would tell all on a special television program on Dutch television on February 3. On February 1, the Dutch media reported that Van der Sloot made a confession regarding the disappearance of Holloway. Later that day, Van der Sloot stated that he was telling the individual what he wanted to hear, and that he had no role in her disappearance. That same day, Aruba prosecutors reopened the case.
The broadcast, aired on February 3, 2008, included excerpts from footage from hidden cameras and microphones in the vehicle of Patrick van der Eem, a Dutch businessman and ex-convict who gained Van der Sloot's confidence. Van der Sloot was seen smoking marijuana and saying that he was with Holloway when she began convulsively shaking, then became unresponsive. Van der Sloot said he tried to revive her but couldn't. He said that he called a friend, who told Van der Sloot to go home and who disposed of the body. The supposed friend, identified as Daury in the broadcast, has denied Van der Sloot's account, saying he was in Rotterdam at school at the time of the supposed incident.
The Aruban prosecutor's office tried to obtain an arrest warrant for Van der Sloot based on the tapes, but a judge denied the request. The prosecutor appealed the denial, but it too failed. The appeals court held that the statements on the tape were inconsistent with evidence and therefore insufficient to hold Van der Sloot.
On February 8, 2008, Van der Sloot met with Aruban investigators in the Netherlands and denied that what he said on the tape was true, stating that he was under the influence of marijuana at the time. Van der Sloot indicated that he still maintains that he left Holloway behind on the beach.
In March 2008, news reports indicated that the tables had been turned on Van der Eem, who himself was secretly taped after giving an interview for Aruban television. Van der Eem, under the impression that cameras had been turned off, disclosed that he had been a friend of Van der Sloot for years (contradicting his statement on the De Vries show that he had met Van der Sloot in 2007), that he expects to become a millionaire through his involvement in the Holloway case, and that he knew the person who supposedly disposed of Holloway's body — and that Van der Sloot had asked him for two thousand euros to buy the man's silence. According to Dutch news service ANP, Van der Eem, who had already signed a book deal, "was furious" after learning of the taping, and "threatened" the interviewer, who sought legal advice. Van der Eem's book Overboord (Overboard), co-written with E.E. Byars, was released (in Dutch) on June 25, 2008. Van der Eem was arrested on December 13, 2008, in the Netherlands, for allegedly hitting his girlfriend with a crowbar and engaging in risky driving while fleeing police.
The De Vries broadcast was discussed in a seminar by Dutch legal psychologist Willem Albert Wagenaar, who opined that the statements did not constitute a confession. Wagenaar criticized De Vries for broadcasting the material, saying that the broadcast made it harder to obtain a conviction, and had De Vries turned over the material to the authorities without broadcasting it, they would have held "all the trumps" in questioning Van der Sloot. Wagenaar further said that not only was the case not solved, it was not even clear that a crime had been committed.
On November 24, 2008, Fox News aired an interview with Van der Sloot in which he alleged that he sold Holloway into sexual slavery, receiving money both when Holloway was taken, and later on to keep quiet. Van der Sloot also alleged that his father paid off two police officers who had learned that Holloway was taken to Venezuela. Van der Sloot later retracted the statements. The show also aired part of an audio recording provided by Van der Sloot, which he alleged was a phone call between him and his father, in which the father displays knowledge of his son's involvement in human trafficking.
According to Mos, this voice heard on the recording is not that of Paulus van der Sloot — the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that the "father's" voice is almost certainly that of Joran van der Sloot himself, trying to speak in a lower tone. Paulus van der Sloot died of a heart attack on February 10, 2010. On March 20, 2009, Dave Holloway transported a search dog to Aruba to search a small reservoir in the northern part of the island. The reservoir was previously identified by a supposed witness as a possible location of Natalee's remains. Aruban authorities indicated that they had no new information in the case, but that Holloway had been given permission to conduct the search.
On February 23, 2010, it was reported that Van der Sloot had stated in an interview that he had disposed of Holloway's body in a marsh on Aruba. New chief prosecutor Peter Blanken indicated that authorities had investigated the latest story, and had dismissed it. Blanken stated that the "locations, names, and times he gave just did not make sense."
In March 2010, underwater searches were conducted by Aruban authorities after an American couple reported that they were snorkeling when they photographed what they thought might be human skeletal remains, possibly those of Holloway. Aruban authorities sent divers to investigate, but no remains were ever recovered.
On March 29, 2010, Van der Sloot contacted John Q. Kelly, Beth Twitty's legal representative, with an offer to reveal the location of Holloway's body and the circumstances surrounding her death, if he were given an advance of $25,000 against a total of $250,000. After Kelly notified the FBI, they arranged to proceed with the transaction. On May 10, Van der Sloot had a $15,000 wire transferred to his account in the Netherlands, following the receipt of $10,000 in cash that was videotaped by undercover investigators in Aruba. Authorities said the information he provided was false because the house in which he said Holloway's body was located had not yet been built at the time of her disappearance. On June 3, Van der Sloot was charged in the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama with extortion and wire fraud. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance obtained an arrest warrant and transmitted it to Interpol. On June 30, Van der Sloot was indicted on the charges.
At the request of the U.S. Justice Department, authorities conducted a June 4 raid and confiscated items from two homes in the Netherlands. One of the homes belonged to reporter Jaap Amesz, who had previously interviewed Van der Sloot and claimed knowledge of criminal activities by Van der Sloot. Aruban investigators used information gathered from the extortion case to launch a new search at a beach, but no new evidence was found. Dave Holloway returned to Aruba on June 14 to pursue possible new clues.
On May 30, 2010, five years to the day after Holloway's disappearance, Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramírez, a 21-year-old business student, was reported missing in Lima, Peru. She was found dead three days later in a hotel room registered in Van der Sloot's name. On June 3, Van der Sloot was arrested in Chile on a murder charge and extradited to Peru. On June 7, Peruvian authorities said that Van der Sloot confessed to killing Flores after he lost his temper because she accessed his laptop without permission and found information linking him to Holloway. Police chief César Guardia related that Van der Sloot told Peruvian police that he knew where Holloway's body was and offered to help Aruban authorities find it. However, Guardia stated that the interrogation was limited to their case in Peru, and that questions about Holloway's disappearance were avoided. On June 11, Van der Sloot was charged in Lima Superior Court with first-degree murder and robbery. On June 15, Aruban and Peruvian authorities announced an agreement to cooperate and allow investigators from Aruba to interview Van der Sloot at Miguel Castro Castro prison in Peru. In a September 2010 interview from the prison, Van der Sloot reportedly admitted to the extortion plot, stating: "I wanted to get back at Natalee's family—her parents have been making my life tough for five years." On January 11, 2012, Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to murdering Flores and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
In June 2011, six years after Natalee's disappearance, Dave Holloway filed a petition with the Alabama courts seeking to have his daughter declared legally dead. The papers were served on Beth Twitty, his former wife, who announced her intention to oppose the petition. A hearing was held on September 23, 2011, at which time Probate Judge Alan King ruled that Dave Holloway had met the requirements for a legal presumption of death. On January 12, 2012, a second hearing was held, after which Judge King signed the order declaring Natalee Holloway to be dead.
On November 12, 2010, tourists found a jawbone on an Aruban beach near the Phoenix Hotel and Bubali Swamp. Preliminary examination by a forensic expert on the island determined that the bone was from a young woman. A part of the bone was sent to The Hague for testing by the Netherlands Forensic Institute. On November 23, 2010, Aruba Solicitor-General Taco Stein announced that — based on dental records — the jawbone was not from Holloway, and it was not possible to determine whether it had come from a man or a woman.
In 2016 Natalee's father, Dave Holloway, hired a private investigator, T.J. Ward, to go through all evidence and information related to the disappearance once more. This led to an informant, Gabriel, who claimed to have been a roommate of one of Van der Sloot's closest friends, American John Ludwick, in 2005. Gabriel claims Ludwick was told what happened to Natalee. Gabriel gave a detailed description of what happened on the night of Natalee's disappearance in an interview with the Oxygen television channel, which created a new documentary series on Natalee's disappearance which aired on August 19, 2017. Using Gabriel's information, the investigator had found what appeared to be human bones. On October 3, 2017, DNA testing concluded that one piece of bone was human but did not belong to Natalee.
On the show, Ludwick claimed to have helped Van der Sloot dig up, smash and cremate Holloway's bones in 2010. In February 2018, Elizabeth Holloway sued the producers, alleging this and other claims are fictional and harmfully lurid, and that she was misled into providing a DNA sample for comparison without being made aware of plans for a show. In March 2018, Ludwick was stabbed to death by a woman he tried to kidnap.
The Twittys and their supporters criticized a perceived lack of progress by Aruban police. The Twittys' own actions in Aruba were also criticized, and the Twittys were accused of actively stifling any evidence that might impugn Holloway's character by asking her fellow students to remain silent about the case and using their access to the media to push their own version of events. The Twittys denied this.
Beth Twitty has alleged in televised interviews and a book that Van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers know more about Holloway's disappearance than they've told authorities, and that at least one of them sexually assaulted or raped her daughter. On July 5, 2005, following the initial release of the Kalpoes, Twitty alleged, "Two suspects were released yesterday who were involved in a violent crime against my daughter," and referred to the Kalpoes as "criminals". A demonstration involving about two hundred Arubans took place that evening outside the courthouse in Oranjestad in anger over Twitty's remarks, with signs reading "Innocent until proven guilty" and "Respect our Dutch laws or go home." Satish Kalpoe's attorney threatened legal action over Twitty's allegations, which he described as "prejudicial, inflammatory, libelous, and totally outrageous." On July 8, 2005, Twitty read a statement that said her remarks were fueled by "despair and frustration" and that she "apologizes to the Aruban people and to the Aruban authorities if I or my family offended you in any way."
In her 2007 book Loving Natalee: A Mother's Testament of Hope and Faith, Beth Holloway wrote:
What we want is, we want justice. And you know — and we have to recognize the fact that, you know, this crime has been committed on the island of Aruba, and we know the perpetrators. We know it's these suspects, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and Joran Van Der Sloot. And you know, we just have to, though, keep going, Nancy, because the only way we will get justice for Natalee is if we do keep going. I mean, if we give up, absolutely nothing will happen. Nothing.
— Beth Holloway