Natalee Holloway: Missing in Paradise

Natalee Holloway was thrilled to go on her high school graduation trip to Aruba in the spring of 2005. The bright, beautiful and bubbly teen from Mountain Brook, Alabama, had the world at her fingertips. She had graduated with honors and was set to attend the University of Alabama with a full scholarship.

Natalee said good-bye to her mother Beth Holloway and boarded a plane with her classmates in May of 2005. On the early hours of May 30th, Natalee was with friends at the Aruban night club called Carlos’n Charlie’s. She was reportedly in the company of locals Joran van der Sloot and two brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe. Natalee failed to meet up with her classmates later that morning, when they were scheduled to depart for their return flight home.

Hundreds of volunteers, the FBI, Dutch soldiers and Aruban investigators scoured the island for months. Natalee’s mother Beth arrived in Aruba with some friends to take part in the investigation and search. Despite massive search efforts, Natalee has never been found.

Van der Sloot was twice arrested in connection with Natalee’s disappearance. He admitted to dropping her off at a hotel on the night she went missing. Van der Sloot said and later recanted, that Natalee had died on the morning in question and he had disposed of her body. Aruba officially closed the case in December of 2007. Natalee was declared dead in absentia in January of 2012.

Beth and her supporters heavily criticized the Aruban police for their shoddy handling of her daughter’s case. In September of 2005, the Dr. Phil show aired a hidden camera interview in with suspect Deepak Kalpoe insinuates that he and Natalee had sex that night. A Private Investigator had obtained the evidence. Still, the brothers and Van der Sloot went unprosecuted.

Although Natalee’s family has still not seen justice, this is yet another example of how a Private Investigator becomes an integral part of any investigation. PIs can be called in to obtain evidence that may not otherwise be available to police. Further, when you hire a PI, he or she works for you and you only.

It is impossible to say what the outcome would have been had this investigation had the help of skilled private investigators from the get-go. Critics of the Aruban investigators say that important tips were not followed up with, certain critical search areas were ignored for weeks while vital evidence was lost, and there was hesitancy in investigating Van der Sloot because his father worked for the Justice Ministry in Aruba. The Aruban investigators have been labeled “second rate” and “corrupt”.

A proper investigation may have prevented the death of Stephany Flores in 2010 in Lima, Peru. Van der Sloot pleaded guilty to killing Flores after meeting her in a casino. He followed Flores to her hotel room and left about 20 minutes later. The hotel receptionist later found Flores beaten to death. Van der Sloot was convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail.

It is unknown what may have happened had Aruban investigators had more help in the initial stages of the investigation into Natalee Holloway’s murder. It remains clear that criminal investigations – particularly those in foreign countries who lack the experience or manpower to deal with such – require a particular expertise. If you don’t think your case is being handled as it should call a Private Investigator. A PI is hired to handle your case with the precision and attention that is necessary in criminal cases – and will work for you alone.