"He was a sweet kid, who loved animals and his grandma. Happy, open," she said. "He lost his way along the way. It was gradual.
"After he was arrested for Natalee's disappearance, he was traumatized," the paper quoted her as saying. "We then made a big mistake. We sent him to the Netherlands to study. He should have gone to a closed clinic, he needed psychological help even back then. He wasn't getting any rest, he was being persecuted."
Things took a turn for the worse after he was secretly videotaped as he talked about Holloway's death in a rambling conversation. Much of it was shot as he rode in an SUV with Patrick van der Eem, a man working with Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries. Joran van der Sloot appears to admit he was present when Holloway died and that he helped dump her body in the ocean.
Joran thought van der Eem was his friend.
"When he walked into Peter R. de Vries' trap, things went downhill even faster," Anita van der Sloot said. "I've seen the raw tapes of the undercover action. His confession was also an impressive feat of editing. Joran was trying to impress. That wasn't right.
"After that, people started pointing fingers at him," she said. "He pretended like it didn't affect him. Joran was trying to appear tough ..."
Then, according to the paper, she held her fingers just a little bit apart as she said, "He has a heart like this, even as a little kid," invoking the Dutch expression that having a small heart means you are somewhere between being sensitive and easily scared.
In the e-mail given to close confidante and ex-girlfriend of Joran's, Melody Granadillo, Anita van der Sloot sounded frustrated and angry.
"I am not giving interviews to any American media station because I don't trust them. Stay safe and pray for Joran. He is not the monster they like the world to see. he is traumatized, depressed an has an addiction. He is not a murderer. It stinks and feels like a big trap set up for him," the e-mail said.
ABC News' Chris Cuomo sat down exclusively to talk to Granadillo about the man she knew in an interview that aired Friday on "20/20."
Granadillo, 23, met van der Sloot when she was 16 and their teenage love affair blossomed.
"It was real," Granadillo told Cuomo. "We liked looking into each other's eyes."
In a diary that she and van der Sloot kept together, Melody has saved poetry and e-mails he sent to her.
In one entitled "Unforgotten..Unforgettable Love," van der Sloot wrote, "I don't quite remember the time or how you did your hair. I don't recall what was on my mind or who else was there. Filled with the tenderness and sincerity of a first love .... Our noses rubbed before our lips touched. I remember never wanting anyone so much ... It was the moment when I fell in love with you." Granadillo licensed a selection of materials she has kept for years to ABC News.
Granadillo told Cuomo that the young Dutch boy who told her her eyes were prettier than the stars was now a changed man.
"I know that he has a gambling problem, so I thought maybe that was taking over," Granadillo said.
Despite their breakup, Granadillo never lost contact with van der Sloot, staying in touch through the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and up until his now-infamous trip to Peru.
Granadillo talked to Cuomo about the Holloway's disappearance and her contact with van der Sloot during his trip to Peru where he met and allegedly killed Flores.
On the day that van der Sloot was arrested for the murder of Flores, Granadillo says she received a text message from van der Sloot asking him for money to buy a ticket back to Aruba. In the text message van der Sloot reportedly wrote, "I have some cash with me still so I am fine just lost the bank card and the ticket back today is 520 I would have liked to be able to be back today but cant do anything about it so much bad luck sometimes."
Van der Sloot's text messages stopped as Granadillo heard about the murder of Flores.
"I did feel guilty," Granadillo said. "Maybe if I had stayed in his life, you know, nothing would have happened."
ABC News' Chris Vlasto, Jim DuBreuil and Cleopatra Andreadis contributed to this report.