ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) — A decade after Natalee Holloway went missing near an Aruba hotel, a Dutch citizen – Jurrien de Jong – says he knows where to find the body of the 18-year-old Alabama woman who disappeared on May 30, 2005 while on a high school graduation trip.
But prosecutors – weary of ten years of false tips and dead ends – aren’t buying de Jong’s story that she is buried in a crawl space at a Marriott vacation property in Aruba, CNN reports.
Joran van der Sloot, then 17, was one of the three men last seen with Holloway the night of her disappearance. Initially, two brothers – Deepak and Satish Kalpoe — and van der Sloot told police they dropped Holloway off at her hotel, but the brothers later said they took her and van der Sloot to a separate hotel. Van der Sloot claimed to have left Holloway on the beach.
For months, international media and hundreds of local and tourists searched in vain for Holloway – but the case still went cold. Today, Van der Sloot is in a Peruvian prison after being convicted of murdering Stephany Flores in 2010. But he has never been charged in connection to the disappearance of Holloway.
Dave Holloway, Natalee’s father, has not given up the search and believes her body was thrown in the ocean as a result of foul play.
And now, de Jong is claiming to have witnessed Holloway’s final moments and that her body is on land. He says he was by the Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club, then under construction, and saw Holloway’s final moments with a man chasing her through the area.
De Jong says he initially though the two were being playful, but he said the man later reappeared carrying the woman’s limp body in his arms.
“… He pulled (the woman) by the ankles inside the crawl space, stayed inside for a minute and then came out and closed the gap,” de Jong said, CNN reports. De Jong says he has long known he witnessed something serious, but says he didn’t report the incident to authorities because he was involved in “illegal activities” at the time of the suspected crime.
De Jong says he decided to speak out on the incident after watching a 2008 Dutch broadcast of an undercover interview – but he remained quiet on the subject for three years because he feared he’d be indicted for his own crimes he declined to detail. De Jong says that van der Sloot’s claim to throwing her body in the ocean is a lie and said he feels bad because he has his own daughter close to Holloway’s age.
“I was running out of possibilities,” de Jong said. “I tried to convince the head prosecutor, the parents, then I tried to convince the other head prosecutor, but he didn’t listen.” De Jong also claims to have returned to the site and attempted to drill into the hotel’s foundation and find the woman’s body himself.
But Aruba’s chief prosecutor, Eric Olthof, says “it’s evident now the story of Mr. de Jong can’t be true, so that’s a closed book,” because the de Jong’s 2010 sworn statement to police is in conflict with their assertion that there was no construction on the site one the 2005 night in question.
But Holloway’s father says he clearly remembers construction from the time of his daughter’s disappearance.
“I can tell you for a fact. I was there on June 1, and there was definitely construction in that area,” he tells CNN.
However, in the U.S., de Jong laughs off accusations of giving false tips to Holloway’s mother for money, despite a U.S. federal indictment for extortion and wire fraud. Authorities accuse him of extorting the money for false information about Holloway’s disappearance. Van der Sloot said de Jong is just a “desperate” drug dealer.