Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Inside the Mind of Joran van der Sloot

Brazen but Desperate

Van der Sloot's attempts to capitalize on his notoriety in order to sustain his on-the-edge, gambler lifestyle allegedly became increasingly brazen and desperate during the months leading up to his arrest for the murder of Stephany Flores Ramirez. His reported schemes also reflected a remarkable indifference to the feelings of Natalee Holloway's loved ones, as well as to those of his close family members.

Stephany Flores Ramirez
Stephany Flores Ramirez

Van der Sloot claimed that he killed Natalee and then dumped her body in a nearby lake as part of another scheme to make what he thought might amount to millions of dollars. The "confession" that German broadcaster RTL Television recorded was made public in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. However, within days van der Sloot once again recanted the confession, while searchers in Aruba found no remains of Natalee's body in the marsh where van der Sloot had claimed to have dumped her body.

Van der Sloot returned to Aruba in February 2010 to attend the funeral of his father who had died of a cardiac arrest suffered while playing tennis at a local resort. Anita van der Sloot, Joran's mother, would later break her long public silence following Joran's arrest in Peru, and tell De Telegraaf that her son had been horribly distraught after his father's death and that she had desperately pleaded with him to check into a mental hospital. But despite her pleas, Anita said, Joran left the island after leaving her a note that said "I'm gone, but don't worry."

While van der Sloot's father had been one of the few people close to his son to offer steadfast support and expert legal advice throughout his ordeal, it has been widely reported that Joran, a month after his father's death, was willing to impugn his father's memory, claiming to Beth Twitty that his father had helped him to dispose of Natalee's body, part of Joran's alleged attempt to extort $250,000 from Twitty in exchange for communicating the whereabouts of Natalee's body.

"That's what a real stand-up guy he is," Harold Copus told truTV. "I guess when his mother dies he'll say his mother helped. This guy couldn't tell the truth if he wanted to."

The FBI and Aruban authorities were alerted, and eventually John Q. Kelly, Beth Twitty's attorney, gave $10,000 in cash to van der Sloot in Aruba on May 10 and wired $15,000 to an account in The Netherlands. Kelly wore a hidden recording device and followed through with the payment in such a way as to establish hard evidence to prosecute van der Sloot on extortion charges. Van der Sloot also signed an agreement that Kelly had brought with him.

When it came time for van der Sloot to show Kelly where the body was, though, he pointed to a house and said Natalee's body was buried in the foundation. However, it was soon determined that the house in question had not even been built at the time of Natalee's disappearance; van der Sloot would soon send an email to Kelly saying that he had lied once again.

Despite having gathered legally admissible evidence, neither the FBI nor Aruban authorities were able to arrest van der Sloot before he once again left Aruba. U.S. authorities finally took action on June 3, bringing charges against van der Sloot in Alabama for extortion and wire fraud, but only after van der Sloot had already been arrested in Chile in connection with the murder of Stephany Flores Ramirez.


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