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Beth Holloway speaking to the media in Birmingham


Butch Dill / AP

To this day, it is one of the most spectacular criminal cases in the Netherlands: On May 30, 2005, Natalee Holloway disappeared without a trace on Aruba, a holiday island in the Caribbean belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Previously, the then 18-year-old American had been dropped off on a deserted beach after a visit to a nightclub with the Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, who was one year younger.

Since then, Beth Holloway, the victim's mother, has been investigating who is responsible for her daughter's disappearance. Now, 18 years and six months later, she finally has certainty: According to CNN and the AP news agency, van der Sloot has confessed in court to having beaten the teenager to death that night and then thrown her into the sea.

"It's over. Joran van der Sloot is no longer the suspect in my daughter's murder case. He's the murderer," Beth Holloway told reporters outside the court in Birmingham, Alabama. The confession is also part of an agreement between the prosecution and the lawyers of the now 36-year-old.

Another murder case in Peru

Since the murder case took place in Aruba, van der Sloot cannot be prosecuted for the murder in the United States. Instead, the court sentenced him to 20 years in prison for fraud and extortion. According to media reports, the Dutchman confessed that he wanted to sell information about the whereabouts of the body to the victim's family for a sum of 250,000 dollars. However, it will apparently be some time before he serves his sentence in the United States.

Van der Sloot must first return to Peru, from where he was extradited to the USA in June 2023. He is currently serving a years-long prison sentence in the South American country after pleading guilty to murdering 21-year-old student Stephany Flores in 2010. The sentence was recently extended by 18 years for dealing drugs in prison.

The Holloway missing person case had made international headlines. Elaborate search operations – the Netherlands sent three jet fighters to the holiday paradise – and a reward of up to one million dollars did little to solve the case. Van der Sloot was arrested several times on suspicion of murder. He became entangled in lies: First, he claimed to have taken Holloway back to her hotel. However, this is not visible on the tapes of the surveillance cameras.