Natalee Holloway's killer in the U.S. awaiting trial

Nearly 20 years ago, 18-year-old Natalee Holloway left for a senior trip to Aruba. Unlike her classmates, Natalee never came home. She was last seen getting into a car with then 17-year-old Joran Van Der Sloot and two brothers, Depak and Satish Kalpoe. Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers originally stated that they dropped Natalee off at a Holiday Inn Express, but there was no sign of her entering or leaving on the security footage of the entrance. Van Der Sloot was arrested for her disappearance, but later released without being formally charged due to a lack of evidence. The Kalpoe brothers were also released without facing any charges. Despite immense efforts, Natalee’s trail went cold.

Joren Van Der Sloot is originally from the Netherlands, but moved to Aruba with his parents when he was four years old. His mother was a school teacher and his father was a lawyer. As a teenager, his parents often said that he was a troubled kid and they had him in therapy for several years. However, according to Crime Library, despite the ongoing therapy, his father encouraged Van der Sloot to break the law by giving him money for gambling and keys to drive — both of which are illegal in Aruba for those under the age of 18. Then in 2005, Van Der Sloot was the only suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. He was able to get away with that without being charged, but with the disappearance of Stephany Flores, he wasn’t so lucky.

In May 2010, 21-year-old Stephany Flores’ body was found in a hotel room in Lima, Peru. When police searched the room they discovered a bloody tennis racket as well as the name of the man who had rented the room: Joran Van Der Sloot. He was caught the next day trying to cross the border into Chile. At first, he claimed that he and Flores were attacked by men impersonating police officers, but later confessed to killing Stephany because she figured out his involvement in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Later, he tried to retract his confession claiming that it was coerced, but ended up pleading guilty to the murder.

Also in 2010, around the same time as Stephany Flores’ murder, Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, received an email from Van Der Sloot claiming that if she paid him $250,000 he would reveal the location of Natalee’s remains. He then later retracted the original message saying that he wanted $25,000 up front and then the rest after leading Beth to Natalee’s remains. What he didn’t realize is that he was being recorded by the FBI throughout all the exchanges about Natalee’s remains. It was then determined that he was providing false information about where she was buried, ending with him being charged with extortion and wire fraud. In June 2023, Van Der Sloot was extradited from Peru, where he was serving a 28-year sentence for the murder of Stephany Flores, to Alabama to face the federal extortion and wire fraud charges for claiming to know where Natalee was buried. Van Der Sloot’s hearing lasted less than five minutes. Within that time he turned down the right to have a translator claiming that his English “is actually pretty perfect.” He also waived a reading of the two count indictment and pleaded not guilty for the charges. Van Der Sloot currently remains in U.S custody, where he awaits trial.