Expert: DNA Can Link Jaw Bone to Holloway

Forensic experts in the Netherlands are analyzing evidence that some believe might be the missing link into the whereabouts of Natalee Holloway, the American teenager who disappeared five years ago while on vacation in Aruba.

Five years after Holloway vanished, investigators are chasing their most promising lead - a lower jaw bone with a partially intact molar discovered on a beach in Aruba last week. Dutch officials are testing to see if the remains belong to the missing teen, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella. Dutch officials are asking Holloway's family for copies of her dental records.

Holloway disappeared during a senior class trip in 2005. She was last seen with Joran van der Sloot, who was arrested twice in connection with her disappearance, but never charged. Van der Sloot is currently awaiting trial in a Peruvian prison for the murder of 21-year-old Stefany Flores.

Van der Sloot initially denied committing any crime. Then, in 2008, he confessed to killing her in a TV interview. But he later recanted, calling himself a pathological liar.

The teenager's father, Dave Holloway, said Thursday that he had provided the dental records to authorities but added that he had received no new official information on the investigation on the Dutch island in the Caribbean.

"The authorities haven't confirmed anything with me," he told the Associated Press. "It's pretty much total silence."

A forensic scientist in Aruba, however, has said that the bone is from a human female, Dave Holloway told the AP.

And that's a positive development for the investigation, said Dr. Larry Kobilinsky, a forensic pathologist and expert in DNA analysis who spoke to CBS' "The Early Show" Friday.

"DNA can be extracted both from bone and from teeth," Kobilinsky said "And that is good news because I don't think, from dental records alone, they will be able to identify the source of that fragment. I think the DNA will definitively tell us if it is her or not."

However, Aruba's dry, windy climate is "not a friendly environment" for the bone or other sources of DNA evidence Kobilinsky said. Still, because DNA is present in the pulp cavity in the center of the molar, it will likely be preserved there.

"I think the issue of a bone fragment is very important," Kobilinsky said. "How did it become a fragment? Was there some kind of mechanical trauma? And what does it mean? Can we learn anything from the fragment, especially the edges? Are there tool marks? Is there any information that could help us determine the cause of death?"

Piece of Natalee Holloway's Jaw Found in Aruba?
Reports: Holloway's Mom Confronts van der Sloot
Lawyer: Revenge Try Won't Hurt Van Der Sloot
Van der Sloot a Dead Man, Ex-Con Says
Grisly van der Sloot Hotel Room Photos Surface
Inside Notorious Prisons van der Sloot Faces
Van der Sloot Confession Details Emerge
Moment Van der Sloot Met Flores Caught on Tape
Photos: Stephany Flores Murder
Photos: Van der Sloot Wanted for Murder
Photos: Natalee Holloway, Paradise Lost
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.