Natalee Holloway, 18, stands with her father Dave Holloway on her graduation day from Mountain Brook High School in Mountain Brook, Alabama, May 24, 2005. Holloway disappeared while on a graduation trip to Aruba.
After spending more than six hours on two occasions trying to get Joran van der Sloot to divulge the location in Aruba of Natalee Holloway’s remains, an attorney for Holloway’s mother said he has no doubt that van der Sloot is a psychopath.
“You can look right into his eyes and see he’s cold as ice and pathological,” John Q. Kelly told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Friday in New York.
Van der Sloot, who is under arrest in Peru for the murder of the 21-year-old daughter of a prominent local family, has been suspected almost from the beginning of being responsible for Holloway’s death in Aruba five years ago.
Apparently desperate for money, the Dutch national contacted Kelly by e-mail in March, demanding $250,000 from Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway Twitty, in exchange for leading Kelly to the teenager’s remains. He wanted $25,000 up front with the rest to be provided when the remains were recovered and proven to be Holloway’s, Kelly said.
The information was used to set up a sting operation on May 10 with the FBI and Aruban law-enforcement authorities. After taking $25,000 in exchange for information that turned out to be false, Kelly said van der Sloot could have been arrested for wire fraud and extortion. But authorities said that more work needed to be done to build the case and van der Sloot was not only left free, he was allowed to leave Aruba for South America, where he would meet Stephany Flores, the woman he confessed to killing, while participating in a poker tournament.
Kelly said he does not know why van der Sloot was allowed to remain free.
“That wasn’t my call,” he said.
Money financed murder
The money Kelly gave to van der Sloot was provided by Holloway’s mother, who would learn that the money probably financed the 24-year-old’s trip to Peru, where he admits killing Flores.
“She’s obviously devastated. It’s the second nightmare for her,” Kelly said of Twitty’s reaction when she learned of Flores’ death. “Another young girl is dead and another family is living the nightmare she went through. Needless to say, she’s distraught right now.”
Kelly said that when van der Sloot, contacted him, he did not think he was going to learn the truth.
His feelings, he said, were, “skepticism, caution, assuming everything he was going to tell me was false — but I had to understandably think that it might be true, also; so approach it very carefully and keep communicating.”
Kelly ultimately decided he couldn’t lose by playing along with van der Sloot’s demands.
“It was a win-win situation. He was either going to pay the money, and if the information turned out to be true, Beth would get closure, she’d bring Natalie home. Assuming it was false, it would be extortion and wire fraud once falsehoods are proven. Either way, he’d be boxed in,” Kelly said.
So Kelly went to Aruba in April to meet with van der Sloot without telling anyone but his own wife and Twitty. He met van der Sloot for about two hours in a hotel.
“No money, no recording devices. Nobody knew I was there,” Kelly told Lauer. “It was Easter Sunday. It was one-on-one in a hotel room for a couple hours. He thought I was bringing the $25,000. I engaged him in a long series of conversations. I was trying to get as much information as I could.”
Van der Sloot wanted money, and when Kelly said he didn’t have it with him, the man got “very angry, very agitated, very upset.”
Kelly said it was nerve-wracking.
“He’s a big guy. He’s 6’4, 225 [pounds], well built. He’s sort of a threatening individual when he gets angry, no question.”
When Kelly returned to the States, he contacted the FBI and began to set up the elaborate sting. He regained van der Sloot’s attention by sending him $100. Then, with a promise that this time he would bring money, another meeting was set up for May 10 in Aruba.
This time, Kelly was hooked up with recording devices and rehearsed in how he needed to handle the transaction. He gave van der Sloot $10,000 in cash, establishing extortion, then had $15,000 wired to van der Sloot’s bank account in the Netherlands, establishing wire fraud.
Van der Sloot and Kelly signed a contract, and van der Sloot took the lawyer on a drive to show where Holloway’s remains were. He pointed out a house and said his father had helped dispose of the body in the foundation. It was later determined that the house was not built when Holloway disappeared on her high school’s senior trip and the information was false.
Van der Sloot himself told Kelly in an email he apparently sent from Peru a week after the meeting that he had lied.
“He indicated it was all a hoax, which is sort of his M.O. with everybody — get the money, then say it’s a hoax and avoid criminal prosecution,” Kelly said.
Now police in Lima, Peru say that van der Sloot has told them he knows where Holloway’s remains are located and that he intends to tell Aruban authorities.