Natalee Holloway disappearance suspect Joran van de Sloot is set to appear in a U.S. courtroom on extortion charges.
Nearly two decades after the 18-year-old vanished during a 2005 high school graduation trip to Aruba, Joran—who was suspect in her disappearance but never charged—will be temporarily extradited to the U.S. to face charges of extortion and wire fraud, per NBC News. The 35-year-old is currently serving a 28-year prison sentence for the 2010 killing of 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores in Lima, Peru.
Natalee’s mom, Beth Holloway who has been a champion for her daughter since her disappearance, expressed her desire to finally get justice for Natalee amid Joran’s upcoming fraud trial.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years,” she said in a May 10 statement, “and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years.”
Beth added, “She would be 36 years old now. It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Joran was one of the last people to see Natalee, who vanished after she left a bar with him and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe in the early hours of May 30, 2005. The Alabama native’s body was never found and she was declared legally dead in 2012. Joran has “repeatedly denied criminal liability in Holloway’s disappearance,” per the Washington Post.
In 2010, a grand jury in Alabama indicted Joran on both wire fraud and extortion charges based on evidence presented that he tried to get $250,000 from Beth in exchange for information on Natalee’s remains and the events surrounding her death, per NBC News.
An FBI affidavit, obtained by NBC News states that during a recorded undercover operation, Joran claimed to know where Natalee’s body was buried, pointing to a specific house, but later admitted to fabricating the location.
But ahead of Joran’s departure to the U.S., his attorney, Maximo Altez, has vowed to fight the extradition decision.
“I am going to challenge that resolution,” he shared in his own statement May 10. “I am going to oppose it since he has the right to a defense.”
Scroll down for a complete breakdown of the Natalee Holloway case.
SEVEN ARRESTS, NO CHARGES
When Aruban authorities first questioned the Kalpoe brothers and van der Sloot, they said they took Natalee to California Lighthouse, near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of the island, to shark-watch, then dropped her off at her hotel at around 2 a.m., the morning of May 30.
Two former hotel security guards were arrested on June 5 after Joran and the Kalpoes claimed they saw a guard approaching Natalee outside her hotel before they drove off. The young men were arrested on June 9 and held on possible charges of first- or second-degree murder and kidnapping resulting in death. Aruban Attorney General Caren Janssen explained that they had been hoping that one of them would lead police to definitive evidence and that’s why they weren’t taken into custody right away.
The beach was searched on June 14, and Joran’s house was searched the next day, where investigators seized two vehicles, computers and cameras. “You have to build up an investigation. You can’t just go in there like a cowboy,” Janssen told reporters in explaining the perceived delay.
The guards were released June 18, and one told police that a Kalpoe brother had told him while they were both locked up that they hadn’t taken Natalee to the hotel, but rather he and his brother had left her with Joran at a beach near the hotel.
Police also questioned Paulus van der Sloot, Joran’s father, and arrested him on June 22. Multiple reports also noted the arrest of Steve Gregory Croes, a party boat DJ, in connection with the case; both Croes and the elder van der Sloot were released on June 26.
Satish Kalpoe admitted to lying to police at first; he changed his story to say he and Deepak dropped both Joran and Natalee off at the hotel and that was the last they saw of them. Meanwhile, a gardener at the Aruba Racquet Club gave police a sworn statement that he saw all three men in a car near the club at around 2:30 a.m., when the Kalpoes claimed they were already home.
Aruban police, Dutch marines, FBI agents and thousands of locals combed the area, but that was on land. Ultimately a volunteer group dispatched divers and sonar equipment on June 25.
Six weeks after she vanished, the family’s offered reward for Natalee’s safe return was $200,000, and the reward for information that could help lead to the truth was $100,000. By the end of July, the reward was up to $1 million if Natalee came home alive.
PARENTS’ WORST NIGHTMARE
Upon arrival on Aruba, Beth Holloway went to the Holiday Inn to ask questions about a guy named Joran van der Sloot, who some of Natalee’s friends had met. When the night manager knew right away who that was, Beth asked to see casino security footage and then called police. Everyone went to Joran’s house, where his dad Paul kept close watch as authorities questioned his son.
With Beth and a growing number of interested parties along, Joran guided authorities back to the hotel to illustrate where he dropped Natalee off, and claimed that she fell and hit her head getting out of the car.
Dave Holloway remembered to Dateline being assured by a cop that sometimes tourists just missed their flights, and his daughter would probably turn up in a few days.
When Joran and the Kalpoes were arrested, Dave and Beth felt that had to be case closed, but that obviously turned out not to be true. Furthermore, as days and then weeks went by, it stated to sink in that Natalee in all likelihood wasn’t coming home.
Beth stayed in Aruba for two months, leaving a few weeks before the Kalpoes, who had been released on July 4, were arrested again on Aug. 26. The brothers and Joran were all released Sept. 3.
Divers from the Aruba Search and Rescue Foundation searched again in late August after getting a tip that a radar machine had detected human bones about a mile off the coast, but they came up empty.
In 2008, Beth told Dateline, “I mean, I’ve had calls since, you know, I couldn’t even— just—you know? I’m… from ‘Natalee’s in a freezer at the van der Sloot house’ to ‘Natalee’s in a boat in Venezuela or Colombia.’ It was hell at first.”
No Longer A Rescue
In March 2006, 10 months after Natalee disappeared, Aruban authorities said witnesses had told them the teen was drinking heavily that night and had drugs in her possession, though no one said they saw her taking any of them.
“We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all the alcohol—maybe on top of that, other drugs, which either she took or they gave her— and that she… just collapsed,” Gerald Dompig, deputy chief of police for Aruba, told 48 Hours Mystery.
Believing her to be dead, they were searching the beach where Joran claimed he last saw her, as well as a salt pond near her hotel, for forensic evidence.
All the while, Joran’s story kept changing.
NO. 1 SUSPECT
Joran, born in the Netherlands, was an honors student and athlete at the International School of Aruba. His attorney father was in the process of becoming a judge on the island when Natalee disappeared. According to her friends, she first met Joran at the Excelsior Casino in their hotel.
“He just looks like an average, normal high school guy,” Natalee’s friend and classmate Laraine Watson told Dateline in 2008. “I mean, I remember he’s really tall. I remember looking at him thinking, ‘Oh, who’s that guy?’ You know, he’s hanging out with my friends.” She added, “I wasn’t really suspicious. I mean, he’s going to come out with us later.” Watson said she didn’t remember seeing him have any interaction with Natalee that night.
Laraine didn’t see them leave together, but other classmates did. “They didn’t think anything of it at the time, but she had gone off with Joran and some of his friends,” she recalled.
Right away, Joran was readily identified by a Holiday Inn staffer as a regular known for going after young female tourists. He spent three months in jail and was released without any charges being filed, a judge having ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to hold him any longer.
Toward the end of 2007, he and the Kalpoe brothers were re-arrested, but again, nothing came of it and they were all released.
Joran proceeded to freely travel the world, living in Thailand for a few months, acting suspicious. He reportedly talked about the case all the time, seemingly pleased that it had made him famous, but his temper was easily triggered. Sitting for an interview with Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries in January 2008, he threw a glass of wine in Peter’s face when the reporter questioned why people should believe anything he said.
Before agreeing to plead guilty, Joran said he was intimidated into confessing to killing Stephany, and that Peruvian authorities promised him he’d be extradited to the Netherlands if he cooperated.
In September 2010, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf quoted Joran saying (per CBS News) about the extortion allegations, “I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family—her parents have been making my life tough for five years. When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not?'”
In July 2014, Joran was set to marry his pregnant Peruvian girlfriend, Leidy Figueroa, who told CBS News’ Crimesider that she met him in 2010 when she went with her cousin to visit another inmate. Conjugal visits were allowed at Piedras Gordas, the maximum-security prison north of Lima where he spent the first few years of his sentence after being transferred from Miguel Castro Castro.
According to Leidy, her future husband had transformed “into a new person.”
That August, however, Joran was transferred to the more remote Challapalca in the Andes mountains, where conditions are reputedly rougher, after allegedly threatening to kill the warden at Piedras Gordas. Leidy, who gave birth to a daughter in September, told Dutch newsgroup RTL that November that Joran had been stabbed by a fellow inmate at Challapalca—but the director of Peru’s National Penitentiary Institute denied it, calling her a compulsive liar in an interview with Peru news network Channel N.
In 2015, Leidy gave Fox News Latino a letter Joran wrote her from prison, in which he alleged that Stephany’s father had put a $10,000 bounty on his head. “I don’t want to die,” he wrote, entreating authorities to take action to secure his safety behind bars.
“Joran is a pathological liar who will say anything to better his condition and get what he wants,” Ricardo Flores said in a statement to Fox News Latino, per People. “Now that he can’t get his way, he will say or do anything to get attention and get transferred to an easier location.”