Joran van der Sloot, the long-standing suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, has revealed gruesome details about the night she vanished as part of his plea deal.
Nearly two decades after the 18-year-old disappeared during a high school graduation trip to Aruba, Joran admitted to killing the Alabama native after she rejected his sexual advances while the two were on a beach. The Dutch national is sharing the details behind her 2005 disappearance as part of a plea deal in his fraud case involving Natalee’s mother, Beth Holloway.
According to a transcript of his confession obtained by E! News on October 19, Joran told his lawyer that he and Natalee ended up walking along a beach after leaving a bar the night she vanished. Brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe (whom the FBI has previously said were also seen leaving with them) went home for the night.
“I lay her down—we lay down together—in the sand and, uh, we start kissing each other,” Joran, 36, claimed. When he attempted to escalate their encounter, “she tells me ‘no.'”
Joran then said that Natalee kneed him in the crotch in an attempt to resist him, after which he kicked her “extremely hard” in the face, rendering her unconscious. He recalled that she was “possibly even dead, but definitely unconscious.”
Shortly after, Joran said he noticed a “huge cinderblock” nearby.
“I take this and uh, yeah, I smash her head in with it completely,” he continued. “Her face basically, you know, collapses in. Even though it’s dark, I can see her face collapsed in.”
Joran said he got “scared” and didn’t “know what to do,” but decided to walk into the water to dispose of her body.
“I half, uh, half pull and half walk with her into the ocean,” he told his attorney, stating that he was in the water up to his knees, “and I push her off into the sea.”
Moments later, Joran said he stepped out of the ocean: “I walk home.”
E! News reached out to Joran’s legal team and government attorneys for comment but has not received a response.
These horrifying details from his confession emerged just hours after Joran apologized to Natalee’s loved ones during his court appearance for his fraud case, where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His sentence will run concurrently with the 28-year prison term he’ll serve in Peru for the 2010 murder of college student Stephany Flores.
In response to finally closing this chapter in the decades-long case that has plagued their family, Natalee’s mother, Beth, stated, “You are a killer, and I want you to remember that every time that jail cell door slams. You look like hell, Joran. I don’t see how you’re going to make it.”
(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family.)
For a full timeline of Natalee’s case, continue reading.
Seven Arrests, No Charges When Aruban authorities first questioned Joran van der Sloot and brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe, they claimed they took Natalee Holloway to California Lighthouse, near Arashi Beach on the northwest tip of the island, to shark-watch, then dropped her off at her hotel around 2 a.m., the morning of May 30, 2005.
Two former hotel security guards were arrested on June 5 after Joran and the Kalpoes claimed they saw a guard approaching Natalee outside her hotel before they drove off. The young men were arrested on June 9 and held on possible charges of first- or second-degree murder and kidnapping resulting in death. Aruban Attorney General Caren Janssen explained that they had been hoping that one of them would lead police to definitive evidence and that’s why they weren’t taken into custody right away.
The beach was searched on June 14, and Joran’s house was searched the next day, where investigators seized two vehicles, computers, and cameras. “You have to build up an investigation. You can’t just go in there like a cowboy,” Janssen told reporters in explaining the perceived delay.
The guards were released on June 18, and one told police that a Kalpoe brother had told him while they were both locked up that they hadn’t taken Natalee to the hotel, but rather he and his brother had left her with Joran at a beach near the hotel.
Police also questioned Paulus van der Sloot, Joran’s father, and arrested him on June 22. Multiple reports also noted the arrest of Steve Gregory Croes, a party boat DJ, in connection with the case; both Croes and the elder van der Sloot were released on June 26.
Satish Kalpoe admitted to lying to police at first; he changed his story to say he and Deepak dropped both Joran and Natalee off at the hotel and that was the last they saw of them. Meanwhile, a gardener at the Aruba Racquet Club gave police a sworn statement that he saw all three men in a car near the club around 2:30 a.m., when the Kalpoes claimed they were already home.
Aruban police, Dutch marines, FBI agents, and thousands of locals combed the area, but that was on land. Ultimately, a volunteer group dispatched divers and sonar equipment on June 25.
Six weeks after she vanished, the family offered a reward of $200,000 for Natalee’s safe return, and the reward for information that could help lead to the truth was $100,000. By the end of July, the reward was up to $1 million if Natalee came home alive.
Parents’ Worst Nightmare Upon arriving in Aruba, Beth Holloway went to the Holiday Inn to inquire about a guy named Joran van der Sloot, whom some of Natalee’s friends had met. When the night manager knew immediately who that was, Beth asked to see casino security footage and then called the police. Everyone went to Joran’s house, where his dad, Paul, kept a close watch as authorities questioned his son.
With Beth and a growing number of interested parties present, Joran guided authorities back to the hotel to illustrate where he dropped Natalee off, claiming that she fell and hit her head getting out of the car.
Dave Holloway recalled being assured by a cop that sometimes tourists just missed their flights and his daughter would probably turn up in a few days.
When Joran and the Kalpoes were arrested, Dave and Beth felt that had to be the end of the case, but that obviously turned out not to be true. Furthermore, as days and then weeks passed, it started to sink in that Natalee most likely wasn’t coming home.
Beth stayed in Aruba for two months, leaving a few weeks before the Kalpoes, who had been released on July 4, were arrested again on August 26. The brothers and Joran were all released on September 3.
Divers from the Aruba Search and Rescue Foundation searched again in late August after receiving a tip that a radar machine had detected human bones about a mile off the coast, but they found nothing.
In 2008, Beth told Dateline, “I mean, I’ve had calls since, you know, I couldn’t even—just—you know? I’m… from ‘Natalee’s in a freezer at the van der Sloot house’ to ‘Natalee’s in a boat in Venezuela or Colombia.’ It was hell at first.”
No Longer a Rescue In March 2006, 10 months after Natalee disappeared, Aruban authorities said witnesses had told them the teen was drinking heavily that night and had drugs in her possession, though no one said they saw her taking any of them.
“We feel strongly that she probably went into shock or something happened to her system with all the alcohol—maybe on top of that, other drugs, which either she took or they gave her— and that she… just collapsed,” Gerald Dompig, deputy chief of police for Aruba, told 48 Hours Mystery.
Believing her to be dead, they searched the beach where Joran claimed he last saw her, as well as a salt pond near her hotel, for forensic evidence.
All the while, Joran’s story kept changing.