Natalee Ann Holloway was an 18-year-old girl who went missing while on an unofficial high school graduation trip to Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean country.
Natalee was born on the 21st of October 1986 to her parents Dave and Elizabeth “Beth” Holloway, and she was the oldest of two children. In 1993, Natalee’s parents divorced and she and her younger brother Matthew lived with their mother. In 2000, Natalee’s mum married George “Jug” Twitty, a prominent Alabama businessman, and the family moved to Mountain Brook, Alabama.
Natalee attended Mountain Brook High School and graduated with honours in May 2005. Natalee was a member of the National Honor Society, the school’s dance squad and participated in other extracurricular activities. She was going to attend the University of Alabama on a full scholarship where she planned to study pre-med.
On the 26th of May 2005, Natalee and 124 other graduates of Mountain Brook High School departed America for a five-day trip to Aruba. The teenagers were accompanied by seven chaperones. The chaperones met with the students every day to ensure everything was fine, but according to Jodi Bearman, who organised the trip, the chaperones were not there to “keep up with the student’s every move”.
Police Commissioner Gerold Dompig has said that the students engaged in wild partying, excessive drinking and frequent room changes. The Holiday Inn they were staying at told them that they were not welcome next year.
Natalee is said to have drunk all day, every day whilst on the trip. She would often start her morning with cocktails and would drink so much that she missed breakfast twice. Some of Natalee’s classmates have agreed that her drinking was excessive.
Natalee was last seen at around 1:30am on Monday, the 30th of May by some classmates. Natalee was seen leaving the Oranjestad bar and Carlos’n Charlie’s nightclub in a car with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot, 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe (the owner of the car) and his brother 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe.
Natalee was scheduled to fly home later that day, but she never arrived at the airport. Her bags and passport were found in her hotel room. Searches were done for Natalee throughout the island and surrounding waters, but no sign of Natalee was ever found.
Natalee has not been seen or heard from since.
Shortly following Natalee’s disappearance, her mum and step-father George, along with some of her friends, arrived in Aruba by private jet. Just hours after they arrived, Natalee’s family went to the Aruban police with the name and address of Joran van der Sloot, the man who Natalee was last seen with. Joran was identified by the manager of the Holiday Inn who recognised him on the videotape.
Natalee’s mum and stepfather, along with two police officers, went to Joran’s home. He initially denied knowing Natalee’s name, but he then told a story about what happened which was corroborated by Deepak Kalpoe, who was in the house at the same time.
They said that they took Natalee to the California Lighthouse area of Arashi Beach because she wanted to see the sharks. They then dropped Natalee off at the hotel at around 2:00am. According to Joran, Natalee fell as she got out of the car. He offered to help her, but she refused his help. Joran then says he saw Natalee be approached by a man in a dark black shirt, similar to those worn by security guards.
Hundreds of volunteers from both the US and Aruba started searching for Natalee. The Aruba government even gave civil servants a day off to participate in the searches, and over fifty Dutch marines conducted an extensive search of the shoreline. Aruban banks raised over $20,000 and provided support to the volunteer search teams.
Despite all of these efforts, no trace of Natalee was ever found.
Natalee did not appear in the hotel lobby’s surveillance on the night she went missing, according to reports. In 2006, Natalee’s mum Elizabeth made a statement that said that the two video cameras in the Holiday Inn were not working on the night Natalee went missing. However, in her book and several statements, she made she has indicated that the cameras were in fact working.
The police have said that Natalee did not have to pass through the hotel lobby in order to get to her room.
There were a few false leads in the search for Natalee, including a possible blood sample taken from Deepak Kalpoe’s car that turned out to not even be blood.
On the 5th of June, 2005, police detained security guards Nick John and Abraham Jones on suspicion of kidnapping and murder. The police have never released the reason as to why they were detained, but there are reports of statements made by Joran and the Kalpoe brothers which could have played a factor in their arrests. The former security guards were known for going to hotels to pick up women, and at least one of them had a past run-in with law enforcement. Both men were released on the 13th of June with no charges.
On the 9th of June 2005, Jaron and the two Kalpoe brothers were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Natalee. Police commissioner Gerold Dompig has said that the investigation was focused on those three men since the get-go, and that police had been surveilling the three men (telephone wires and monitoring their emails, along with actually watching where they go) since three days after Natalee had gone missing. Pressure from Natalee’s family forced the police to end their surveillance early and arrest the men.
On the 11th of June, the Aruban Minister of Justice falsely said that Natalee was deceased and that the authorities knew the location of her body. The Minister quickly retracted his statement and claimed that he had been a victim of a “misinformation campaign”.
The same evening, Gerold Dompig admitted to the press that “something bad had happened” to Natalee after the three men took her to the beach, and that the suspect was leading the police to the scene. The next morning, the prosecution spokeswoman neither confirmed nor denied that statement, and instead said that the investigation was “at a very crucial, important moment.”
On the 17th of June, disc jockey Steve Gregory Croes was arrested. Police say that he was arrested based on the information given to the police by the three men in custody. He was later released with no charges on the 26th of June.
On the 22nd of June, Joran’s father, Paulus van der Sloot, was arrested for questioning. He was also released on the 26th of June with no charges.
During this time frame, the three men who had been detained had changed their stories. They all now claimed that Natalee had been dropped off at the Marriott Hotel with Joran, close to the fishermen’s huts. Joran then stated that he did not harm Natalee, but left her alone on the beach.
According to Satish Kalpoe’s attorney, Joran then called Deepak Kalpoe to tell the brothers that he was walking home and then sent them a text message forty minutes later.
At some other point during the investigation, Joran told investigators that he had actually been dropped off home and that Natalee was still in the car with the brothers when they drove off. Garold does not believe this account and thinks that Joran only said this account to try and place blame on the brothers.
On the 4th of July 2005, the brothers were ordered to be released, but Joran was able to remain detained for another sixty days.
A local gardener came forward with information. He claimed that a small pond close to the Aruba Racquet Club, which was in close proximity to the Marriott Hotel Beach, had been partly drained between July 27th and July 30th, 2005. Apparently, the gardener had seen Jaron try to hide his face as he drove into the Racquet Club with the Kalpoe brothers between 2:30-3:00am on the morning of Monday 30th May.
Another person, only known as “the jogger”, came forward having claimed to have seen men burying a blonde-haired woman in a landfill on the afternoon of the 30th of May.
The police had searched these areas in the days following Natalee’s disappearance, but they never returned any results. These confessions caused the landfill to be searched three more times, using FBI cadaver dogs to assist. These searches also brought no new results.
The FBI announced that the Aruban authorities had provided them with documents, interviews and evidence. One piece of evidence was a piece of duct tape with blonde hair attached to it. The hair was tested by the FBI twice, but it was confirmed not to have belonged to Natalee.
On the 26th of August, the Kalpoe brothers, along with a new suspect 21-year-old Freddy Arambatzis, were detained by the police. No public explanation was made for the arrests, but Gerold later admitted that it was an unsuccessful attempt at trying to make the boys admit more about what happened to Natalee.
On the 3rd of September, the boys were released by a judge on the condition that they remain available to police. On September the 14th, all restrictions on the boys were removed by the Combined Appeals Court of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
In the months following his release, Jaron spoke to several media outlets to recount his version of the night’s events. In March 2006, Jaron told Fox News that Natalee wanted to engage in sexual intercourse with him that night, but he declined because he did not have a condom. He also said that Natalee wanted to stay on the beach with him, but he had school the next morning so he got picked up at 3:00am by the Kalpoe brothers and left Natalee on the beach.
Jaron said that he did feel ashamed for leaving Natalee on the beach by herself, despite it being her own request, and that he wasn’t truthful at the start of the investigation because he believed that Natalee would just show up.
The FBI took part in several searches in January, March and April 2006 close to the Marriott Beach. These searches once again yielded no results.
Just before he left the case, Garold Dompig took part in an interview with CBS. During the interview, he said that he didn’t think Natalee was murdered, and instead succumbed to alcohol or drug poisoning and that someone hid her body. He said there were indications that pointed to possession, but not necessarily use, of illicit drugs of Natale. Natale’s family deny that she ever used drugs.
On the 15th of April 2006, Geoffrey van Cromvoirt was arrested by Aruban officials on suspicion of criminal offences related to narcotics, which may have been related to Natalee’s disappearance. He was released without charge on the 25th of April.
On the 17th of May 2006, Guido Wever, a son of a former Aruban politician, was arrested on suspicion of assisting in abducting, battering, and killing Natalee. He was later released following an agreement between his attorney and the prosecutor.
In April 2007, a combined Dutch-Aruban force took over Natalee’s case.
In that same month, Jaron released a book about Natalee’s case which gave his perspective of the night Natalee went missing. In the book, he admits he was not honest at the start of the investigation but maintains his innocence.
On the 27th of April 2007, 20 investigators searched Jaron’s family home. The investigators did not comment on what prompted the new search, but that it was not related to Jaron’s book. According to Jaron’s father, nothing suspicious was found, and all the police seized was diary entries of him and his wife and his personal computer. The computer was returned.
On the 12th of May 2007, the Kalpoe brother’s residence was searched by police. A statement from the police did not indicate what they were searching for but did clarify that nothing was taken. A statement was later given from the Aruban Prosecutors Office said that the reason for the search was “to get a better image of the place or circumstances where an offence may have been committed and to understand the chain of events leading to the offence.”
On November 21st 2007, Jaron and the Kalpoe brothers were arrested once more, with police saying that they had found new evidence. The three men were arrested on suspicion of involvement in “causing manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm which resulted in the death of Natalee.”
On December 1st, the Kalpoe brothers were released without charge. Jaron was released without charge on December 7th. The boys were all released due to lack of evidence implicating the boys in a violent crime, as well as lack of evidence that Natalee died as a result of a violent crime.
On December 18th, 2007, prosecutor Hans Mos officially declared Natalee’s case closed, and that no charges would be filed due to a lack of evidence.
Natalee was declared legally dead on the 12th of January 2012. Her body has never been found.
As of 2022, there have been no new arrests or suspects named in Natalee’s case.
Jaron was indicted in June 2010 with extortion and wire fraud, after telling Natalee’s family he would tell them where her body was located if they sent him an advance of $25,000, and then after he told them paid an additional $250,000. He received $15,000 through wire transfer, and then another $10,000 in cash.
Authorities then say Jaron provided false information as the house he said Natalee’s body was located in hadn’t been built at the time of her disappearance.
Jaron was also sentenced to 28 years in prison after shooting and killing Stephany Flores Ramirez, a 21-year-old business student in Peru.
It is unclear as to what the Kalpoe brothers are spending their days doing now, but it is thought that they still live in Aruba.
A jawbone that washed ashore in November 2010 in Aruba was thought to belong to Natalee, but several DNA tests have confirmed that it does not belong to her. The jawbone is believed to have come from a caucasian female, but it is unknown who it belongs to.
Hopefully one day Natalee’s family may get the answers, and justice, they deserve.
As this case has a lot of detail, I have included some links to other articles that cover more details and information about Natalee’s case:
Unsolved, Missing, Missing Person, Mystery, True Crime, Dissaperance