Watch CBS News

What to know about the Natalee Holloway case after Joran van der Sloot's confession is revealed in court

Joran van der Sloot admits killing Natalee Holloway
Joran van der Sloot admits he killed Natalee Holloway 02:07

Natalee Holloway was killed by Joran van der Sloot, the 36-year-old Dutchman admitted in a confession that was publicly revealed Wednesday. The confession was disclosed in federal court as van der Sloot entered a plea deal in an extortion case stemming from the Alabama teen's 2005 disappearance in Aruba that received international attention.

In an interview with his attorney, Van der Sloot confessed to killing Holloway on a beach while she was on a high school graduation trip. The interview was provided to U.S. authorities as part of his guilty plea to extortion and wire fraud charges.

Van der Sloot, who had long been the prime suspect in Holloway's disappearance, was temporarily extradited in June to the United States to face charges in a 2010 case of trying to extort a quarter-million dollars from Holloway's mother Beth Holloway in exchange for information about her missing daughter's remains.

A federal judge in Birmingham, Alabama, sentenced van der Sloot to 20 years in prison, which will run concurrently with his prison sentence in Peru.

He has been serving a 28-year sentence in the country for the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, and U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona said van der Sloot would be returned to Peru upon the conclusion of the U.S. case.

Who was Natalee Holloway?

Holloway was last seen alive 18 years ago in the Caribbean island nation of Aruba. The 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, just outside Birmingham, was celebrating her graduation from Mountain Brook High School, where she was an honor student, CBS News' "48 Hours" reported in 2006.

Natalee Holloway
Natalee Holloway disappeared while on a trip to Aruba in May 2005. Personal photo

Holloway went on the trip with three of her best friends, Liz Cain, Mallie Tucker and Claire Fierman.

"It was so much fun. We would wake up, go like, brush your teeth, go straight to the beach. We would literally stay in the water all day long because it was so perfect," Fierman told "48 Hours." "We just hung out with our friends on this beautiful island. It was a really fun trip."

When did Natalee Holloway go missing?

On May 30, 2005, the last night of the trip, the group went to Carlos'n Charlie's, a local nightspot, Cain told "48 Hours." The legal minimum drinking age in Aruba is 18.

That night, Holloway was seen getting into a car with three strangers, which surprised Holloway's friends and her mother, Beth Holloway.

"No way would she have left her friends and placed herself knowingly what she was getting into," Holloway's mother told "48 Hours" in 2006. "They just took her when she just … There's no way."

Who is Joran van der Sloot?

Among the strangers was van der Sloot, who was 17 at the time. A citizen of the Netherlands, van der Sloot was taken into custody 10 days after Holloway's disappearance and was held for months.

"It's mind-boggling to us that a 17-year-old, if he would have done it, could not have been broken. It's incredible," Aruban lawyer Arlene Shipper, who at the time often spoke on behalf of the country's government, told "48 Hours" in 2006.

Dutch national Joran van der Sloot arrives for a hearing at the Lurigancho prison in Lima, Peru, on January 11, 2011.
Dutch national Joran van der Sloot arrives for a hearing at the Lurigancho prison in Lima, Peru, on January 11, 2011. Ernesto Benavides/AFP via Getty Images

At the time, van der Sloot denied any wrongdoing in Holloway's disappearance and no charges were filed against him. He was released to his parents on Sept. 3, 2005.

The case drew widespread attention in the U.S. and has been cited as an example of the news media's fascination with missing White women. According to the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, van der Sloot has given conflicting confessions in the case over the years. In 2016, Holloway's father, Dave Holloway, told the Huffington Post the latest alleged confession at the time wasn't valid in Aruba unless it was in a signed statement.

Were Natalee Holloway's remains ever found?

Holloway was legally declared dead in 2012. Her remains haven't been found.

In 2010, van der Sloot offered to reveal the location of her body to Beth Holloway for $250,000, according to the Justice Department.

A federal grand jury indicted him on charges of extortion and wire fraud over the scheme.

According to the indictment, van der Sloot offered to show Beth Holloway's lawyer where her daughter's remains were located and provide "specific details concerning the manner of her death" for an initial payment of $25,000. Van der Sloot would then be sent the remaining $225,000 through a wire transfer within 30 days after the remains were confirmed to be Holloway's.

Prosecutors alleged that van der Sloot confirmed in an email that the information he provided was "worthless" and kept the initial $25,000 payment.

Why was Joran van der Sloot extradited to the U.S.?

Van der Sloot has been serving a 28-year prison sentence in Peru since he pleaded guilty in 2012 to killing 21-year-old college student Stephany Flores in Lima in 2010.

The Peruvian attorney general's office said in a statement to CBS News that van der Sloot was temporarily extradited to the U.S. for prosecution and would return to Peru following the proceedings.

The extradition was approved by the country's president, Dina Boluarte, Peru's government said in a statement to CBS News.

"We hope that this action will enable a process that will help to bring peace to Mrs. Holloway and to her family, who are grieving in the same way that the Flores family in Peru is grieving for the loss of their daughter, Stephany," Peru's Ambassador to the U.S. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra said in the statement.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.