Holloway suspect targeted in sting, not arrested
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI thought it was closing in on Joran Van der Sloot in the notorious Natalee Holloway missing-teenager case, and he was videotaped and paid $25,000 in a sting operation. But when the agency delayed his arrest to help build...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI thought it was closing in on Joran Van der Sloot in the notorious Natalee Holloway missing-teenager case, and he was videotaped and paid $25,000 in a sting operation. But when the agency delayed his arrest to help build a criminal case, he took the money and headed for Peru, where authorities say he now has confessed to killing a different young woman.
The investigation of van der Sloot in the Alabama teenager's case simply was not far enough along to have him arrested, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Birmingham said Wednesday.
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy asked FBI Director Robert Mueller for an explanation of "exactly what happened in this case and the basis for all actions taken by the FBI."
Holloway disappeared on the island of Aruba on May 30, 2005. Van der Sloot is being held in Peru in connection with the killing, exactly five years later, of 21-year-old business student Stephany Flores, the daughter of a Peruvian circus promoter and former race car driver. Flores was found beaten to death, her neck broken, in the 22-year-old Dutchman's hotel room. Police said the two met playing poker at a casino.
Federal law enforcement officials and a private investigator said the work on Holloway's disappearance was revived in April when van der Sloot reached out to a lawyer for Holloway's mother and requested $250,000 in exchange for disclosing the location of the young woman's body on the island of Aruba.
He got $25,000, and the private investigator says the suspect was taped saying he pushed her down, she hit her head and died. But the statement from the FBI and U.S. attorney's office said the law enforcement probe "was not sufficiently developed to bring charges prior to the time van der Sloot left Aruba."
Aruba authorities have been frustrated in their efforts to prosecute van der Sloot because they have been unable to find her remains.
According to the private investigator, Bo Dietl, messages started coming in to John Kelly, a lawyer for the Holloway family who had hired Dietl, around Easter of this year from van der Sloot. Van der Sloot, for years the prime suspect in Holloway's disappearance, wanted to give details of where Holloway was buried and how she died.
The family said they wanted closure and Kelly contacted the FBI, which sent 10 to 12 agents to Aruba to meet Kelly, Dietl said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
They set up a sting operation and told van der Sloot he would receive $25,000 immediately and $225,000 more once the body was found.
Kelly and van der Sloot met in a hotel room in Aruba and were secretly videotaped by the FBI. Van der Sloot said on tape that after Holloway died, he contacted his father who helped him bury the body, the investigator said.
Van der Sloot's father died in January.
"He wanted to come clean, but he also wanted money," said Dietl. "So now, not knowing if this was true or not, if there was a chance of recovering the body, we wanted to do that."
Under surveillance by the FBI, he and van der Sloot went to where the body supposedly was buried.
No body has been found.
Van der Sloot has told investigators in Aruba that he left the 18-year-old Holloway on a beach, drunk. For years, he has denied involvement in her disappearance.
Van der Sloot was the last person seen with Holloway before she vanished during a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island. He was arrested but has been released twice because of a lack of evidence.
Flores' family was asked Wednesday for comment on the latest developments.
Enrique Flores, one of the slain Peruvian woman's brothers, said, "My sister is dead, so I can't accomplish anything by thinking about what might have been."
"Neither I nor the family are thinking about all the things that could have happened but did not. What we want now is for police to release their report so the prosecutor can decide whether to bring a case and on what charges."
Peru's chief police spokesman, Col. Abel Gamarra, told the AP on Monday that van der Sloot had confessed to killing Flores. However, a Dutch newspaper has quoted a family lawyer as saying the confession may have been coerced.
Van der Sloot, who was a fixture on true crime shows and in tabloids after Holloway's disappearance, crossed into Chile on Monday, roughly a day after leaving the Lima hotel. The day of his arrest in Chile, he was charged in the United States with trying to extort $250,000 from Holloway's family.
The federal criminal complaint in that case, filed in Birmingham, alleged an arrangement to pay the money for disclosing the location of Holloway's body. According to a sworn statement, van der Sloot got a partial payment of $15,000 wired to a Netherlands bank soon after, but the complaint did not say where the money came from.
The U.S. government's involvement in the payment to van der Sloot was first reported by the New York Post.