After waiting more than 18 years for some measure of justice connected to the Aruba disappearance and death of 18-year-old high school senior Natalee Holloway, Beth Holloway appeared in an Alabama federal courtroom to confront the man long suspected but never proven to have murdered her daughter in May 2005 — until now.
Joran Andreas Petrus van der Sloot, now 36, has been held without bond in the Shelby County Jail since he was booked on June 9 following his extradition to the Yellowhammer State from Peru, where he was — and will have to continue — serving a 28-year prison sentence for murdering another woman, 21-year-old Stephany Flores.
Representing van der Sloot in court Wednesday was Alexandria Darby, from the Office of the Federal Public Defender; Austin Shutt appeared on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama. At the hearing, van der Sloot pleaded guilty to wire fraud and extortion.
“I would like to take this chance to apologize to the Holloway family, to apologize to my own family,” van der Sloot said, according to Tristan Ruppert of local Fox affiliate WBRC. “I would like to say I am no longer that person […] I have given my heart over to Jesus Christ.”
On the eve of the hearing at the Hugo L. Black United States Courthouse, U.S. District Judge Anna Manasco of the Northern District of Alabama issued an order regarding victim impact statements, saying that the court “will properly consider written and/or oral victim impact statements only from the victim of the extortion and wire fraud conduct charged in the Indictment, and her immediate family” and not from “any other persons.”
In court, Natalee Holloway’s mother Beth Holloway (referred to in FBI documents as Beth Twitty) reportedly flipped van der Sloot’s spiritual conversion claim on its head, telling him, “You look like hell.”
“For eighteen years you have denied killing my daughter […] The grief extends deep into my soul,” Beth Holloway reportedly said. “You have finally admitted that you murdered her […] you terminated her potential, her dreams and possibilities when you bludgeoned her to death.”
“You are a killer and every time that jail cell closes I want you to remember that,” she added. “Even though you have finally confessed and confirmed that you are my daughter’s killer you can’t be tried here for her murder.”
As Beth Holloway asked the judge to sentence van der Sloot to the max, she reportedly told him: “[A]nd by the way, you look like hell, Joran. I don’t know how you’re going to make it.”
After Holloway returned to her seat, Judge Manasco reportedly sentenced van der Sloot to 20 years in prison — set to run concurrently with his murder sentence in Peru.
“You have brutally murdered two women who refused your sexual advances,” the judge reportedly said. “You knew the information you were selling was an absolute lie.”
The concurrently running sentence is significant because the murder sentence in Peru is up in 2038 — 15 years from now. This appears to mean that the most van der Sloot would serve in U.S. federal prison is roughly five years — and that would technically be for extorting Natalee Holloway’s mother, not for murdering Natalee.
Holloway, an aspiring pre-med student who had earned a full scholarship at the University of Alabama before disappearing during her high school graduation trip, was declared legally dead in 2012 — nearly seven full years after she was last seen alive leaving Carlos’n Charlie’s, a restaurant and nightclub in Oranjestad, Aruba, with van der Sloot and two others.
The 2010 Alabama federal case did not allege that van der Sloot murdered Natalee Holloway, but it did charge him with extortion and wire fraud for trying to shake down her mother Beth Holloway (referred to in documents as Beth Twitty) for money under a false promise over email to the family’s lawyer John Q. Kelly that he would reveal the circumstances of Natalee’s death and the location of her body.
“In the years following Natalee’s disappearance, extensive searches have been conducted on the island of Aruba and in the surrounding waters, with no success. Over time, monetary rewards of up to $1 million have been offered for Natalee’s safe return. In addition, rewards of up to $250,000 have been offered for information leading to the return of her remains,” an FBI affidavit alleged. “On or about March 29, 2010, van der Sloot contacted the cooperating witness via email, using the email address, [redacted]. During a series of emails that followed, van der Sloot offered to take the cooperating witness to the location of Natalee Holloway’s body, advise the cooperating witness as to the circumstances of her death, and identify those involved in her death and disappearance in return for a payment of $250,000.”
A May 10, 2010, recorded meeting in Aruba between attorney Kelly and van der Sloot resulted in the lawyer handing Van der Sloot $10,000 in cash upfront to immediately be followed by a Beth Holloway wire transfer of $15,000 more.
Van der Sloot told an elaborate story about his now-deceased father, the Aruban judge-in-training and lawyer Paul van der Sloot, helping cover up the crime. But according to the FBI, van der Sloot admitted to Kelly in a May 17, 2010, email that he lied about the location of Natalee Holloway’s remains and provided “worthless” information.
Van der Sloot went on to use $25,000 paid out in the FBI sting operation to travel to Peru, where he murdered Flores.
The wire fraud offense van der Sloot was charged with committing involved defrauding a bank — SNS Bank, located in the Netherlands where van der Sloot was born.
“While negotiating this deal via email, van der Sloot insisted that a written contract between him and Mrs. Twitty be prepared by the cooperating witness. The contract was to set out the terms of their agreement and be signed by both parties,” the FBI detailed. “The cooperating witness drew up the agreement and sent it by electronic facsimile (FAX) from his office in New York to Mrs. Twitty in Birmingham, Alabama. Mrs. Twitty signed the agreement and FAXed it back to the cooperating witness.”
Two years before a judge declared Holloway dead, van der Sloot strangled student Stephany Flores, whom he met while participating in a poker tournament at a casino in Lima, Peru, on May 30, 2010 — five years to the day Holloway disappeared.
Van der Sloot went on to plead guilty to murder in 2012, acknowledging that he also robbed the victim of hundreds of dollars worth of currency to fund his escape to Chile, where he was arrested mere days after the fact. At the time, van der Sloot’s defense lawyer Jose Luis Jimenez reportedly said his client was stressed out on the day of the murder, as the five-year anniversary of Holloway’s disappearance and the fallout from it weighed heavily on him.
“He was pointed at and persecuted. The world had been against him for five years before this case, for a murder he said he never committed and for which there is no evidence whatsoever,” the lawyer said, according to CNN. Homicide investigators in Peru reportedly believed that van der Sloot suffocated Flores to death with his shirt after realizing she read something about the Holloway case on a computer in his hotel room.
“I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family — her parents have been making my life tough for five years,” van der Sloot reportedly said. “When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not?””
The Peruvian government previously agreed in 2014 to extradite van der Sloot to the United States after he finished serving his murder sentence in 2038, but Peru allowed an earlier extradition in June 2023 to provide “peace to Mrs. Holloway and to her family.” Peru agreed to the extradition with the understanding that the convicted killer will be returned “immediately following the proceedings” in America to finish his sentence.
Once van der Sloot’s Peru sentence is completed, the path would be clear for him to do time in U.S. federal prison.
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]