Holloway Suspect: 'I Know What Happened'

Joran van der Sloot, on recording, says friend disposed of Holloway's body.

January 31, 2008, 11:39 AM

Feb. 3, 2008 — -- Joran van der Sloot, a former suspect in the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway, said on surveillance recordings aired on a Dutch TV special this evening that Holloway appeared to be lifeless on an Aruban beach three years ago during a romantic tryst, and "she'll never be found."

"I know what happened to that girl," van der Sloot announced during 20 hours of private conversations secretly recorded by crime reporter Peter R. de Vries.

Her body, van der Sloot said, had been dumped in the ocean by a friend with a boat.

"We're on the beach," he said on the recordings, according to the Dutch TV show. "Suddenly, she wasn't moving any more."

Nowhere on the recordings does van der Sloot display any emotion about the young woman he said he disposed of that night on the beach so far from home.

"I didn't even feel bad about it," he said at one point. "I didn't lose a night of sleep over it. I thought, 'I have to go on.'"

Since Holloway disappeared on May 30, 2005, according to the surveillance recordings, van der Sloot has lied to authorities, laughed at police and prosecutors, thrown a glass of wine in DeVries' face and boasted about his antics and alleged deceptions in conversations he thought were private. Van der Sloot even said he is pressing for financial compensation from the Aruban government for his ordeal as a suspect in the case.

Van der Sloot now claims he was lying in the secretly recorded conversations with Patrick van der Eem, a person he thought was a friend, but who was secretly working undercover for de Vries and his team of Dutch crime reporters.

The tale van der Sloot told on the tapes clearly contradicted his original story that he left the apparently intoxicated Holloway sleeping on the beach and did not know what happened to her after that.

In one taped conversation, van der Sloot told van der Eem that Holloway visibly convulsed "like a movie," that she was shaking "a lot."

"Did you try CPR on her?" asked van der Eem.

"Of course, I tried everything," van der Sloot said. "I tried to shake her. I was shaking the bitch. I was like, 'What is wrong with you, man?' I almost wanted to cry. Why does this s*** have to happen to me?"

He admitted his first call wasn't to the hospital or to the police -- but to a friend to help dispose of the body.

"And I told him, 'Well, this is what happened; come, come, come, come help me. And please don't call the police.' He says, 'No, I won't call the police. I'm coming to you now.'"

Van der Sloot said on the tape that his Aruban friend, alone, took Holloway out to the ocean and dumped her apparently lifeless body.

But was she really dead?

"How were you so sure she was dead, Joran?" van der Eem asked on the tapes. "You know, people can also go into a coma."

"Yeah, I wasn't sure about that, but it really startled me to death," van der Sloot admitted.

"But she could also have been in a coma," van der Eem said.

"That's possible too, huh?" van der Sloot answered. "That's very possible."

Van der Sloot said he immediately began crafting an alibi.

"I have to do normal things," he said. "And I am going to casino tomorrow night so I'm on camera."

But calling into a TV show this past week, van der Sloot said his admissions to van der Eem were a put-on.

"It is true I told someone. Everybody will see it Sunday," van der Sloot said over the telephone on the Dutch television show "Pauw & Witteman."

"That is what he wanted to hear, so I told him what he wanted to hear," Van der Sloot said, adding that he never fully trusted the man to whom he'd described his encounter with Natalee Holloway.

"It is so stupid, it is so stupid, it is really stupid," Van der Sloot said, his voice cracking.

Based on de Vries tapes, the chief prosecutor in Aruba announced Thursday that he is reopening the case.

De Vries also showed his findings to Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty.

"She told me she kind of knew it already that Natalee wasn't alive anymore, but when you get this message it's still, yeah, a kind of relief," de Vries told ABC News.

Twitty admitted as much to ABC News.

"Now, with the knowing," she said, "it lets you put some things to rest. And that finally, finally, finally it's over."

According to the DeVries Dutch TV special, De Vries built his case with the help of van der Eem, 34 an Antillian who spent his youth in Curacao and Aruba but who has lived in the Netherlands for many years.

Van der Eem said he met van der Sloot at a poker table in a casino, and they talked about starting a marijuana-growing business. The two later would talk about and smoke marijuana during lengthy recorded conversations.

But van der Eem said he really wanted to bring van der Sloot down and decided to set a trap. Soon, he approached de Vries, the famous Dutch crime reporter, about working undercover, and de Vries hired him.

"I knew what I was doing," van der Eem said. "I had no emotions for this kid. The mother deserves an honest answer for what happened to his daughter."

The mystery behind the disappearance of the blond teenager has eluded efforts by the Aruba police and even the FBI for more than two years.

De Vries showed some of the key pieces of videotape to the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Aruba Jan. 24. Thursday, the island's chief prosecutor, Hans Mos, announced he has "intensified [the] investigation of Natalee Holloway due to recently received information."

Mos had announced publicly last month that he had closed the investigation after an exhausting and often frustrating two-year probe.

"This information may shed a new light on the mode of which Natalee Holloway has died and the method by which her body disappeared," Mos said.

He credited de Vries with uncovering the leads and said, "This information may help considerably in the solution of the mystery of Natalee's disappearance."

De Vries said that he and his team had been conducting an undercover operation for five months.

Earlier this week de Vries released a conversation between himself and Mos after he showed police the evidence he had collected.

"Am I sitting opposite a happy man now?" de Vries asked Mos. The prosecutor is shown answering, "Now at least the truth is surfacing, and with that we can at least wrap up this case."

Holloway, from Alabama, disappeared after a boozy night in an Aruban nightclub during a high school graduation trip. She was last seen outside Carols 'n Charlies bar with van der Sloot, who is from the Netherlands, and the brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, from Aruba. They have twice been arrested and released because of a lack of evidence. They have all denied any involvement in her disappearance.

In the de Vries TV special, Van der Eem said he rarely pressed van der Sloot on the Holloway case early on -- but van der Sloot occasionally talked about it anyway.

Van der Sloot was arrested and released in December before the Holloway case was closed, and the next month a hidden camera caught van der Sloot ridiculing the Aruban authorities that failed to bring charges.

"They have nothing," van der Sloot told van der Eem. "I laughed at them, those investigators. I didn't say a word. I invoked my right to remain silent."

In January, De Vries' team launched a more ambitious surveillance plan involving a Range Rover outfitted with three hidden cameras and a tracking device, as well as several unmarked surveillance cars to observe van der Sloot and van der Eem as they rode around in the Range Rover.

And with the case dropped, it turned out, van der Sloot seemed to open up more about Holloway.

"Will they ever find her, do you think?" van der Eem asked, in one conversation.

"No," van der Sloot said.

"The only thing I still want is a big fat compensation check" for treatment by authorities in Aruba, van der Sloot added. "But before I have it, it'll be 10 years."

"But where … is she, Joran?" van der Eem asked.

"She'll never be found," van der Sloot said.

The day after that January conversation, according to the program, van der Sloot and de Vries appeared together on a Dutch TV show, "Pauw & Witteman," on which de Vries offered theories on van der Sloot's involvement in the Holloway case, and van der Sloot, as he always has, publicly denied involvement.

"If it was proved that you were wrong, would you apologize to me?" Van der Sloot asked de Vries on the show. "Are you man enough to do so?"

"What do you think?" de Vries asked.

"I don't think so," van der Sloot said.

The anger escalated until the end of the show, when van der Sloot famously through a glass of wine in de Vries' face.

"The program was over and I'd just shaken his hand," van der Sloot told van der Eem, according to de Vries TV special. "I look him in the face, and I shake that Pauw and Witteman's hands. I see him looking my way, and I pick up that glass of wine and I just throw it in his face. And he goes, 'Ouch! My eyes! It stings!' And I was so cool. And then you see me going, calmly, like, 'Yeah, I thought you deserved it, you know.'"

De Vries offered another take on the incident.

"I was annoying him. I had questions and I was asking for answers, and he wasn't able to give me answers," de Vries said. "He doesn't have complete control over his behavior."

On his Dutch TV special, de Vries answered van der Sloot's demand for an apology.

"Are you man enough to apologize when we show you literally lied to half the world about what you did that night?" de Vries asked. "You are responsible for the disappearance of Natalee Holloway."

Twitty and Holloway's father, Dave Holloway, have waged a determined publicity campaign in an effort to keep the probe alive and find out what happened to their daughter.

Twitty has published a book about her daughter's disappearance and appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show in January in an effort to keep the search alive.

Police and even army units have combed the island looking for clues to Holloway's disappearance. The most recent search was carried out by oil drilling teams who volunteered their help. They used sonar to search the deep water off of Aruba's coast, but failed to find a trace of Natalee.

Without finding Natalee Holloway's body or a confession from a suspect, prosecutors thought they'd never be able to make a case in Holloway's disappearance. Now, de Vries believes he has "nothing less than a straight-up confession" -- that van der Sloot was with Holloway when she apparently died and a friend of van der Sloot's disposed of the body.