Almost two decades after Natalee Holloway vanished in Aruba, the man long suspected in her death has confessed to killing the Alabama teen in grisly detail, court documents reveal.
Joran van der Sloot’s confession was publicized shortly after he pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to extorting and defrauding Holloway’s family.
He was accused of trying to sell information about the location of Holloway’s remains to her mother, Beth Holloway, in exchange for $250,000.
“It’s over. Joran van der Sloot is no longer the suspect in my daughter’s murder. He is the killer,” Beth Holloway said Wednesday.
“After 18 years, Natalee’s case is solved,” she said. “He gave a proffer in which he finally confessed to killing Natalee.”
In a proffer, a defendant offers information they know about a crime, often as part of a plea deal.
Van der Sloot, 36, admitted to killing the teen with a cinder block on an Aruban beach after she rejected his sexual advances, according to a transcript of an interview with his attorney.
Van der Sloot said Holloway kneed him in the crotch after he tried “feeling her up,” and he responded by kicking her in the face and bludgeoning her with the cinder block.
He then decided to “push her off” into the ocean, according to the interview transcript.
Holloway’s body has never been found. In 2012, an Alabama judge signed an order declaring her legally dead.
The deaths of Holloway in 2005 and Stephany Flores, a Peruvian woman, in 2010 – whom van der Sloot previously admitted to killing – prompted Judge Anna Manasco to sentence van der Sloot to 20 years on the federal charges.
“I have considered your confession to the brutal murder of Natalee Holloway,” Manasco said Wednesday.
“You have brutally murdered, in separate incidents years apart, two beautiful women who refused your sexual advances.”
After reading van der Sloot’s proffer, the judge said Holloway’s body would never be found.
Van der Sloot had been arrested multiple times in connection with Holloway’s death. He was subsequently released by Aruban authorities, who cited a lack of direct evidence.
He’s currently serving a 28-year prison sentence in Peru for the 2010 murder of Flores.
In 2021, van der Sloot was convicted of trafficking cocaine into his prison and was sentenced to an additional 18 years in Peru, according to a sentencing memorandum.
“Because Peruvian law prohibits prison sentences from exceeding a total of 35 years (unless given a life sentence), the Defendant is currently scheduled for release from prison in Peru on or about June 10, 2045 (35 years after his original arrest in Peru),” the court document states.
But Peruvian officials allowed his temporary release to the US in June to face the extortion and wire fraud charges.
Van der Sloot was expected to return to Peru to finish his murder sentence in the Flores case before returning to the US to serve time for the federal charges.
But Wednesday’s plea agreement says his 20-year US federal sentence will be served concurrently with his sentence in Peru. In other words, it appears unlikely van der Sloot will return to the US to serve prison time.
18 years of mystery and misery
Holloway was visiting Aruba on a high school graduation trip when she vanished in 2005.
The 18-year-old was last seen leaving a nightclub with van der Sloot and two other men, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.
The three men were arrested in 2005 but were released due to insufficient evidence.
They were rearrested and charged in 2007 for “involvement in the voluntary manslaughter of Natalee Holloway or causing serious bodily harm to Natalee Holloway, resulting in her death,” Aruban prosecutors said at the time.
But a few weeks later, an Aruban judge ordered van der Sloot’s release, citing a lack of direct evidence that Holloway died from a violent crime or that van der Sloot was involved in such a crime. The Kalpoe brothers were also released.
Why van der Sloot was charged in the US
While US officials don’t have jurisdiction over the criminal investigation in Aruba, a federal grand jury in Alabama indicted van der Sloot for an alleged plot to sell information about Holloway’s remains to her family.
According to the indictment, van der Sloot’s scheme took place between March and May 2010.
He was indicted in June 2010 on charges of extortion and wire fraud.
In the weeks between the extortion and indictment, van der Sloot killed 21-year-old Flores on May 30, 2010, in his hotel room in Peru.