Exclusive: 'I Lied Because I Was Scared'

ByABC News via logo

Feb. 23, 2006 — -- Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch teen who was the last person seen with Natalee Holloway the night she disappeared in Aruba, said he lied about leaving the American teen alone at the beach because he was scared.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News' Chris Cuomo for "Primetime," van der Sloot said he had planned to have sex with Holloway when they left a bar together on May 30.

They went to the beach, but because van der Sloot said he didn't have a condom, they did not have sex. He said the two "cuddled" on the beach, but then he said he wanted to go home, so he left Holloway on the beach.

He admits now it wasn't the right thing to do. "At that moment in time, for me, it wasn't the wrong thing," he said. "It's not something a real man would do. It's not normal. It's not right at all."

Van der Sloot said his friend picked him up and drove him home. But there was a detail he left out -- he left the beach without his shoes, which some people have interpreted as a sign of panic.

Van der Sloot said that wasn't the case. "I'd left them on the beach. I'd walked to the car. We got in the car right then and there, I couldn't go back because we were going home."

The shoes were never found.

Between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning, records reviewed by "Primetime" seem to confirm that van der Sloot was at home and online -- he e-mailed Deepak Kalpoe to say he was home, he checked soccer scores, and visited a porn site.

That morning, Holloway's classmates were scheduled to return to Alabama, but she never showed up. Her worried friends eventually contacted her family, and Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, got on a private plane that day to search for her daughter on the island.

When van der Sloot heard that a girl had gone missing on the beach, he said he thought of Holloway.

"The first thing that popped into my head was … what if something happened to her? What if she went swimming?" he said. "Afterwards, I was thinking, after everything she told me, that she probably might have gone back to her hotel, hooked up with -- gone with someone else, hooked up with someone else, and wanted to stay another day on the island."

But van der Sloot was soon face to face with Holloway's parents, who came to his home after being tipped off that the last person to see their daughter alive was a local boy named Joran. He was pointed out to Twitty on hotel surveillance video.

Van der Sloot said he walked up to Twitty, who was holding a picture. "All she said to me, she screamed at me was, tell me where my daughter is," he said. "I told her that I don't know."

But he said more than that. Van der Sloot told Holloway's family that he and his friends had dropped off the teen at the Holiday Inn. That was a lie.

Van der Sloot said he didn't tell the truth because he was scared. "I didn't want anyone to know. I didn't want anyone to know I left her at the beach," he said. "I lied because, yeah, I was scared. I had a girlfriend at the time. I didn't want my dad to think bad of me. I didn't want my friends to think bad of me."

Over the coming days, the search for Holloway intensified. The Aruba government even gave 4,000 civil servants a day off just to look for clues -- and still nothing was found.

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