crimesider

Natalee Holloway Update: Aruba Studying Dental Records, Says FBI

A Collage of Photos of Natalee Holloway (CBS)
Natalee Holloway Update: Aruba Studying Dental Records, Says FBI
A Collage of Photos of Natalee Holloway (CBS)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CBS/WIAT/AP) The dental records of missing American teen Natalee Holloway are being reviewed by Dutch authorities as they analyze a jawbone with a tooth in it that was found in Aruba last week, the FBI said Thursday.

PICTURES: Joran van der Sloot: Natalee Holloway and Peru

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.

Natalee's father, Dave Holloway, had said that he provided the records 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 in a telephone interview. "It's pretty much total silence."

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?"

Paul Daymond, an FBI spokesman in Birmingham, Alabama, said the agency sent some records electronically Wednesday and shipped the remaining dental impressions. It is unclear when those would arrive.

A tourist found a jawbone last Friday and took it to the front desk of the Phoenix Hotel, said Ann Angela, spokeswoman for the Aruba prosecutor's office. It was then sent to the Netherlands for analysis.

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

Holloway said he received the information from a friend who spoke to the scientist. He did not identify either the friend or the scientist, and did not say whether the scientist is involved in the investigation or otherwise is in a position to know details of the case.

Aruba prosecutors have repeatedly said they lack evidence to charge van der Sloot, who is currently in jail in Peru accused of killing 21-year-old Stephany Flores on May 30 - five years to the day after Holloway's disappearance.

The search for Holloway has seen numerous possible leads that turned into dead ends.

Earlier this year, police conducted an underwater search expedition after a couple from Pennsylvania took a picture of what they thought might have been a skull and bones. Divers found nothing but rocks and coral.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF JORAN VAN DER SLOOT ON CRIMESIDER