CrimeOnline‘s Nancy Grace has weighed in on the latest development in the 12-year-old case of missing Natalee Holloway, who disappeared while on a graduation trip with friends in Aruba in 2005.
Just ahead of the premiere of an Oxygen docuseries dedicated to her disappearance, Natalee’s father Dave Holloway and private investigator T.J. Ward announced that human remains had been found in Aruba, and are currently being tested to see if they belong to Natalee.
From the beginning, Natalee’s family has had difficulty working with local authorities, who have been accused of botching the investigation, and who continue to challenge the work of Dave’s independent investigative team.
Both Dave Holloway and Nancy Grace appeared on a recent episode of Nightline to discuss the latest breakthrough.
When asked if he believed Aruban authorities handled the investigation properly, Dave said they did not.
“No, because they took their eyes off the last three people that were known to be with Natalee.”
One of those people is Joran van der Sloot, who is believed to have left a bar with Natalee the night she was last seen and admitted in a later interview to bringing her to a beach where he hoped to have sex with her. He is now serving a 28-year prison sentence for the murder of another woman who died five years to the day after Natalee disappeared. And though he remains a primary person of interest in Natalee’s case, he has never been charged.
Nancy agreed with Dave that the role of the Aruban authorities made a tragic situation even more difficult.
“Little did they know, they weren’t just looking for a kidnapper or a killer. They were up against the whole Aruban government,” Nancy said.
“Joran van der Sloot enjoyed every privilege, every protection concievable under the Aruban justice system.”
In 2008, van der Sloot appeared to make a bombshell confession in a hidden camera interview with a TV reporter. Nightline aired a clip of that interview, in which van der Sloot can be heard saying he knows what happened to Natalee.
“I just think that I’m incredibly lucky that she’s never been found,” van der Sloot says. “Because if they find that girl I’m in deep s***.”
According to Nightline, van der Sloot later recanted that statement.
A Florida man by the name of Gabriel is featured in the Oxygen documentary as a key player in leading Dave Holloway and private investigator T.J. Ward to the remains, which still have not been identified as Natalee’s.
He told CrimeOnline that he befriended John Ludwick after realizing he was a friend of van der Sloot’s, and appeared to have information about Natalee’s death. Eventually, he says, Ludwick did lead him to remains that are at the center of the six-part Oxygen series.
But Aruban authorities have said the remains could not be Natalee’s.
“During an investigation by police in an area indicated by Mr. Holloway, we found remains, but they were found to be from animals,” Aruban Public Prosecutor Dorean Kardol told the Huffington Post last week.
Gabriel told CrimeOnline he was sure the Aruban authorities were lying, but due to his non-disclosure agreement with Oxygen he said he could not reveal why local police might lie about the existence of Natalee’s remains.
For her part, Nancy said she hopes Natalee’s family can finally move on.
“There’s never closure when your loved one is murdered,” she said. “But at least they would know that they could have her remains and she could be buried.”