LIMA, PERU — Could it be the beginning of the end of the Natalee Holloway mystery? Was there a confession?
JOHN KELLY: This was the first time he admitted being personally responsible for physically causing her death.
Or was it all a lie? Like so many other stories from the chief suspect in the Holloway case.
Tonight, for the first time, details of an alleged extortion plot, targeting Natalee Holloway’s mother.
A first-hand account, from the man who acted as a go-between.
JOHN KELLY: It's probably the most horrific unanticipated nightmarish ending for Beth that you could ever imagine.
But the latest chapter in the story of Natalee Holloway began in Lima, Peru at a casino exactly five years after she disappeared.
Amid the din of music and the well-heeled crowd, through the bright lights and beyond the blackjack table and slot machines, there he was.
ROBERTO BLADES: I see this guy walking up. You know, he's tall, so I see him and I’m like “that’s this guy.”
It was just all too strange. Twice-arrested, never-charged, Joran van der Sloot was the chief suspect in the Natalee Holloway case.
It sounds like a chapter ripped from some dime store novel, or some weird case of déjà-vu. But it happened here, at the Atlantic City casino in Lima. And what may have been a sign of impending danger may have come in the early morning hours of Saturday, May 29.
A poker-playing, self-styled playboy, with a notorious past, Joran van der Sloot sauntered into the casino and hit the tables.
A salsa singer visiting from Miami, Roberto Blades, says the 22-year-old sat down beside him. And says he couldn't believe the way van der Sloot was acting.
CHRIS HANSEN: So you're at the poker table. Joren van der Sloot is next to you and a buddy of his comes up and they start talking about picking up girls.
BLADES: Like “hurry up. We're running out of time to pick up chicks” and a little bit more demeaning that way. Actually, I got really angry.
CHRIS HANSEN: Why?
BLADES: I remember the case in Aruba he had a couple of buddies and I’m starting to see like a pattern. And I’m just bewildered. I'm like, “this guy’ss walking around talking about women in a very bad way.”
At the poker table, Blades says, he became so concerned, he got up and complained.
BLADES: So then I get up and I go to the guy who heads the poker room. I approach him and I call him and I go “come over here” and I grab him and I say “do you know who that guy sitting next to me is?” And he looks over and he's like “no.” And I said “that’s the guy, that guy’s a murderer. That’s the guy that killed a girl in Aruba.”
The casino management says there's no evidence that Blades pointed van der Sloot out to its staff.
In any case, van der Sloot has never been charged with any crime in the Natalee Holloway case.
Blades left town for a few days.
He wasn't there early Sunday morning -- when this security camera image was taken outside the casino parking facility.
It shows a 21-year-old woman, Stephany Flores, a college student and avid poker player, in the last few hours of her life.
And a camera inside the casino captures a fateful moment: Stephany meeting up with Joran van der Sloot.
According to witnesses, they spoke together in English. She won at least $800. But he was on a losing streak.
They played together for about two hours.
In new video released today, Stephany Flores is seen cashing in some of her chips.
Then, as night turned to day, they went to his $40-a-night room at the Hotel Tac. On the hotel's surveillance camera van der Sloot is seen picking up a key at the front desk with Flores behind him.
They came upstairs at 5:33 a.m. and van der Sloot and Flores are seen entering room 309.
In more new video, van der Sloot is seen in a different shirt at 8:36 a.m. after he is locked outside of his room. He apparently called a hotel employee to let him in.
Then about 20 minutes later, he's seen leaving. By himself, wearing a backpack.
He left the TV blaring and reportedly told the front desk clerk "don't disturb my girl."
And apparently, the staff didn't. For at least two more days.
Meanwhile, Stephany's family , prominent in Peruvian society, had already reported her missing to the police.
Early Wednesday, someone from the casino called the hotel asking for van der Sloot. Peruvian investigative reporter Rosa Vallejos:
CHRIS HANSEN: Somebody from the casino, an employee presumably, calls looking for van der Sloot?
ROSA VALLEJOS: Yes, yes. Somebody says “Hi, how are you? Please I want to talk to van der Sloot.” They say the room 309. But nobody answering in the room … Of course, he owes. So she goes upstairs and she discovered that Stephany is dead.
When the receptionist entered room 309, she found the body of Stephany Flores. She'd been badly-beaten. Her neck was broken. She was lying on the floor wearing nothing but a black shirt and red panties.
Since she was found in his room, and Stephany had been seen on video with van der Sloot, Interpol quickly issued an arrest warrant.
But van der Sloot was long-gone by then. An international manhunt was on.
Van der Sloot had hit the road, and was sighted at the Chilean border. On Thursday, June 3, while traveling in a rented taxi in Chile, van der Sloot was captured.
He was soon marched out on an airport tarmac, in full view of the media , and flown back to Peru in a small plane.
In the meantime, not having heard the news, visiting entertainer Roberto Blades returned to Lima's Atlantic City casino. And says he was dumbfounded by what he heard next.
BLADES: The guy I talked to, the head of the room, looks at me directly and goes “you were right, man. He is a killer.” And I’m like “I told you. I told you he was a murderer.” And he goes “Yeah, yeah. He killed a girl.” I said “Yeah, he killed a girl in Aruba, you know?” And he goes, “No, he killed a girl here.” I said “What?”
Stephany Flores's burial was an emotional and tumultuous public event, especially because her father, Ricardo, a businessman, race car driver, and one-time minor candidate for Peru's presidency, is so well-known.
In the days following his arrest, Peruvian authorities paraded van der Sloot in front of the media at least three times.
Newspapers jumped on the story and called van der Sloot "a monster," "serial killer," and a "psychopath," even though he hadn't yet been charged with anything.
Police also released pictures of the suspect getting a medical exam and video of van der Sloot being questioned.
He asks about his rights, seemingly concerned about signing a document, and tells police he left his credit cards back in Chile.
For the next few days, during intense interrogation, van der Sloot insisted he was innocent.
But then, according to Peruvian authorities, his story changed.
Joran van der Sloot, 22, the chief suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in 2005, was arrested last week for the killing of Peruvian college student Stephany Flores.
Four days after the arrest, police announced he confessed he killed Flores at this Lima hotel, exactly five years to the day after Natalee Holloway’s disappearance in Aruba.
In his alleged confession, van der Sloot told police he had briefly left Stephany Flores in his hotel room.
When he returned, he found her going through his laptop computer, where she found information linking him to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
A fight broke out when Stephany Flores tried to leave. Flores slapped van der Sloot and he flew into a rage.
Cesar Guardia, PNPF: "He then began choking her, he wrapped his hands around her neck and started choking her and shaking her.”
Chief Cesar Guardia of the Peruvian National Police Force:
“He then realized the victim was still breathing she was still showing signs of life. He took his shirt wrapped around her face and began suffocating her.”
"He then realized the victim was still breathing, she was still showing signs of life. He took his shirt, wrapped it around her face, and began suffocating her."
The police also say robbery is a motive, that Stephany Flores may have been singled out by van der Sloot in the casino and lured to his hotel because she had cash and credit cards.
The Flores killing and its possible effect on the Holloway case has led to still more pain for Natalee's family.
Her uncle, Paul Reynolds, says his family shared the Flores' grief.
PAUL REYNOLDS, NATALEE’S UNCLE: Our hearts and prayers go out to Stephany’s family and what they're having to experience. We should not have lost another young girl's life.
It's hard to believe how much time has passed, but the agonizing twists and turns in the story of Joran van der Sloot and the Natalee Holloway case have been going on for five years now. This strange saga began in May, 2005, about 3,500 miles from here in Mountain Brook, Alabama, near Birmingham. The high school senior class was planning a graduation trip.
And not just any trip. To mark this rite of passage, the entire class would be celebrating graduation by going to what seemed an island paradise: Aruba, a Dutch territory off the coast of South America.
And if any of the seniors had earned a special trip, it was Natalee Holloway.
In school, she'd been a straight A student, a member of student government, even a counselor in a peer group called the Natural Helpers.
That fall, she was planning to attend the University of Alabama -- on full scholarship.
Her mom, Beth Holloway, who had been divorced from Dave Holloway since 1993, knew it would be a great opportunity for her daughter.
BETH HOLLOWAY: I was excited the Mountain Brook students had been there the previous two years. And there were going to be a 150 plus classmates. So, we felt like, you know, there's safety in numbers.
Class member Laraine Watson said the vacation couldn't have started better.
LARAINE WATSON, NATALEE’S FRIEND: We were so excited. I mean, it was a tropical paradise. Without our parents! Together!
Claire Fierman had been friends with Natalee since they met in junior high.
CLAIRE FIERMAN: We were on the beach. We stayed outside all day. You'd usually take a nap, get dressed, go eat dinner, and then go to one of the bars. Come home whenever you wanted.
On the last night of the trip, Sunday, May 29, 2005, Natalee and her friends headed down to the hotel casino.
They soon struck up a conversation with 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot.
LARAINE WATSON: I met him in the casino and I didn't shake his hand or anything, I just said, "Who's that?" when my friends introduced me.
CHRIS HANSEN: What did you make of him?
LARAINE WATSON: He just looks like an average, normal high school guy. I mean, I remember he's really tall. I remember looking at him thinking, "Oh, who's that guy?" You know, he's hanging out with my friends.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did he create any suspicions?
LARAINE WATSON: Not really. I just was curious to see who the boy was. I wasn't really suspicious. I mean, he's going to come out with us later.
Van der Sloot seemed to fit in with the hundred-plus kids from Mountain Brook, who essentially took over a popular bar Sunday night.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you see him at Carlos & Charlie’s that night?
LARAINE WATSON: I did see him. I didn't talk to them. I just saw him dancing.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you see him have any interaction with Natalee at all?
LARAINE WATSON: No.
CHRIS HANSEN: What time did you wrap it up at the bar that night?
LARAINE WATSON: I think the bar closed at one. So, we pretty much left when the bar closed. So, you know, the last song came on. And "Sweet Home Alabama" came on. I think they all knew we were from Alabama, so they played it for us. And we went outside and started trying to get in taxi cabs to get back to our hotel. And it was kind of chaotic.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you think that's how Natalee got separated from the rest of the crowd?
LARAINE WATSON: I do. I do. I didn't see her in the car that she was last seen in.
But some other members of the group did see who Natalee had gone off with.
They didn't think anything of it at the time, but she had gone off with Joran and some of his friends.
The next morning, Monday, the group was scheduled to catch flights taking them all back home. But at the Holiday Inn, no one had seen Natalee.
CLAIRE FIERMAN: So, I’m boarding my plane. One of our friends, Francis Ellen, comes running through the airport, grabs me as I’m getting on my plane and says, "Natalee is not coming home. We can't find her." And I say, "Beth is going to be so mad." Because my initial reaction is she's overslept. Where is she? You know, it wasn't panic.
But as Natalee’s plane pulled away from the gate, panic did begin to set in.
CHRIS HANSEN: What was it like to be on that plane and have it take off from that island without Natalee onboard?
LARAINE WATSON: It felt like I was leaving something behind. It was just a horrifying feeling knowing that she was supposed to be there and she wasn't.
Back in the United States, Beth Holloway was in her car when she got a call on her cell phone telling her Natalee had not shown up in the hotel lobby to go to the airport.
BETH HOLLOWAY: I knew instantly when I received that call that just from Natalee’s history and character and just her record, I knew instantly that she'd either been kidnapped or murdered. There was no hesitation. Absolutely none. Absolutely none.
She raced towards home and frantically called 911.
BETH HOLLOWAY: I’m saying, "My daughter's been kidnapped or murdered in Aruba. Help me. I need some help .” And then the calls turned into I’m calling 911 and I’m telling them I’m driving a 120 miles an hour down the interstate and don't anybody stop me.
She finally did get pulled over and a state trooper got her in touch with the FBI.
Back at his home in Mississippi, Natalee’s father Dave also got the frightening news.
CHRIS HANSEN: This is not a young woman who missed airplane flights.
DAVE HOLLOWAY: Right. It hit me. And grown men don't usually cry. But I knew this is bad. I knew then that I was going to have to go to Aruba to find her.
Less than 12 hours after her daughter Natalee was reported missing, Beth Holloway’s plane touched down in Aruba.
She was joined by a few friends from home and the group wasted no time tracking down clues about what had happened to Natalee.
Their first stop: the Holiday Inn -- where Natalee had stayed --- and where they began asking questions about that young man named Joran.
The same young man who'd been seen with Natalee at the hotel's casino and later at Carlos & Charlie’s.
BETH HOLLOWAY: So, all I did was give this little bit of information to the nighttime manager and she knew instantly who he was.
CHRIS HANSEN: And who was he?
BETH HOLLOWAY: She said, "Oh, that's Joran van der Sloot and he likes to prey upon young, female tourists." And I went, "Oh, dear god.” You know, “He got one."
Now that they knew his full name, Beth wanted to put a face on it.
She asked to see the casino security videotape.
Minutes later, the group from Alabama arrived at van der Sloot's home.
While Beth sat in the car, her friends from home grilled Joran, pressing him for details about what happened after he and Natalee left the bar.
BETH HOLLOWAY: The words that he uses are sexually explicit and graphically detailed of what he is engaging in. The conduct he's engaging in with Natalee in the backseat of the car.
CHRIS HANSEN: And if I’m one of these guys--
BETH HOLLOWAY: Oh, yeah.
CHRIS HANSEN: That's going to be enough to make me come unhinged.
BETH HOLLOWAY: They were-- yeah, that's when--
CHRIS HANSEN: I mean, like grab him by the--
BETH HOLLOWAY: You got it.
CHRIS HANSEN: --throat. And say, "look--"
BETH HOLLOWAY: You got it.
CHRIS HANSEN: “Where is she?”
BETH HOLLOWAY: ...it was about to just explode.
By now police had arrived at the house and Paulus van der Sloot, a politically-connected lawyer, hovered as police questioned his son, Joran.
And when it came to the key question -- when did Joran last see Natalee -- Joran said that he and two friends, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe -- had dropped her off at her hotel around 2 a.m. End of story.
BETH HOLLOWAY: He wanted to go show us where he had dropped her off.
Beth, her friends, and the police headed back to the Holiday Inn.
At the Holiday Inn, Joran himself showed Beth and the group where he had supposedly left Natalee, right at the hotel's front entrance.
BETH HOLLOWAY: So, he spread his arms out. Said, "This is where I dropped her off." And he explained how she got out of the car, and she stumbled. And he said, "She fell and she hit her head."
The next day -- as Beth continued to follow up leads at bars, the beach, and hotels, Dave Holloway arrived and said he had a frustrating encounter with a police officer.
DAVE HOLLOWAY: He proceeded to tell us that-- and we knew then that the three boys were the last three to be seen with Natalee. And he said, "I’ve taken their statements. And they don't have anything to do with her disappearance."
CHRIS HANSEN: So they had cleared Joran van der Sloot and the other two boys?
DAVE HOLLOWAY: On June 1.
CHRIS HANSEN: From the get go.
DAVE HOLLOWAY: He said, "A lot of these girls come to the island, they miss their flights. She'll show up in a few days."
CHRIS HANSEN: In a few days.
DAVE HOLLOWAY: Yeah. Says, "She's probably out just partying. A lot of them will come here and get hooked up with a drug dealer. They'll be under drugs for awhile."
CHRIS HANSEN: How did you respond to that?
DAVE HOLLOWAY: I said, "That's not my daughter."
Of course, Natalee Holloway never did show up. Joran van der Sloot’s story kept changing-- something that would happen again and again in the coming years.
But ten days after Natalee was last seen, van der Sloot was arrested, along with the Kalpoe brothers. Beth thought the case was closed.
BETH HOLLOWAY: There is not a chance in hell that they will see...
CHRIS HANSEN: ...the light of day?
BETH HOLLOWAY: No.
Beth was wrong. To her surprise, a judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to hold the suspects. About three months after their arrests, first the brothers and then Joran van der Sloot were released. No charges were filed and Joren was a free man.
In the five years following Natalee Holloway’s disappearance, the chief suspect, Joran van der Sloot, was never charged.
But even in Aruba, his former home, there are those who don't believe any of the stories he's told over the years. Aruban news paper editor JOSSY MANSOUR:
JOSSY MANSOUR: This guy is known for giving false information, for lying. He's a habitual liar.
But while living under a cloud of suspicion, Joran van der Sloot has also seemed to live the life of an international playboy, traveling from Aruba to Europe to the far east and South America.
BARBIE NADEAU, THEDAILYBEAST.COM: For the past five years, Joran van der Sloot has been running from situation to situation, almost like a pin ball. He gets in trouble, he runs somewhere else.
Journalist Barbie Nadeau of the web site TheDailyBeast.com has been covering van der Sloot’s trail of woes.
NADEAU: Usually it's his own actions that gets him in trouble, he's got a real hunger for publicity, he seeks out the media he wants to talk.
For example, when he appeared on this Dutch TV show to talk about the Holloway case, in a heated exchange, he threw a glass of wine in the face of crime reporter Peter de Vries.
JOSSY MANSOUR: I mean, he has an anger in him that he cannot control once it bursts, normally he’s OK but once he gets in that type of rage, he loses all type of control over his emotions.
Nadeau interviewed a Dutch private investigator who spent several days with van der Sloot.
NADEAU: He said that this young man loved to talk about Natalee Holloway. He loved the idea that he was connected to this death, it was fame for him. It was a need he had, he's a very narcissistic young man and being affiliated with a high profile murder fed his desire for fame.
But if van der Sloot was reveling in his infamy, it seemed to blow up in his face back in 2008 in this hidden camera sting in the Netherlands.
In the set-up, reporter Peter de Vries caught van der Sloot discussing Natalee Holloway’s death with a man named "Patrick," who had posed as a friend to earn van der Sloot’s trust.
Not knowing he was on camera, van der Sloot told Patrick he was with Natalee when she collapsed on a beach -- and that he had a friend with a boat get rid of the body.
For Dave Holloway, watching the show was beyond painful.
DAVE HOLLOWAY: It was a good thing there was an ocean between us and Holland, because I would have come after him.
For Natalee’s parents, the secretly-recorded tapes seemed to confirm many things they have believed all along.
First and foremost: that Joran was with Natalee and had something to do with her disappearance.
BETH HOLLOWAY: I wanted to come to the TV and kill him. I wanted to peel his skin off his face.
But later, he claimed that he had made up the whole story while he was high on marijuana.
Nevertheless, the Holloway family expected some kind of charges to be filed against van der Sloot.
After the footage aired, Aruban prosecutors sought to arrest him again. But judges denied the request.
Joseph Tacopina was van der Sloot’s attorney at the time.
JOSEPH TACOPINA, VAN DER SLOOT ATTORNEY: Joran's story, over 20 hours that he was taped, is disprovable by fact, disprovable in its inconsistencies internally, and incredible because he was under the influence of narcotics when he was making those statements.
Since late 2007, van der Sloot spent much of his time in Thailand, attending a university and at one point buying a cafe. But lately he was apparently running low on cash.
"He was basically looking for a business venture. He was really looking for a way to make money."
Earlier this year, van der Sloot’s father, Paulus, a prominent lawyer in Aruba, died suddenly of a heart attack on a tennis court.
According to Nadeau, who interviewed close family friends, Joran van der Sloot spiraled into a deep depression.
NADEAU: His father had always paid for him, his father was not there, obviously that income was gone. His mother was not working. He was a little bit desperate, he was scared and he was driven by, sort of, a lack of attention. He wanted to be back on the headlines. Nobody was asking him questions about Natalee Holloway and no one was paying him for his answers. He was in a position where he was very desperate, according to friends close to his family.
And if he was desperate, that might explain what allegedly happened next.
With his money troubles mounting, his father dead, and his life spiraling downward, this spring Joran van der Sloot allegedly made a bold attempt to cash in on the Natalee Holloway disappearance.
JOHN KELLY: I got the first e-mail from van der Sloot on March 30.
Attorney John Q. Kelly represents the Holloway family in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against van der Sloot. He spoke exclusively to NBC News about the alleged extortion plot that, he says, began with that email from van der Sloot.
CHRIS HANSEN: What went through your mind? What did you think he wanted?
JOHN KELLY: I had no idea. I was more than amenable to talking to him, or hearing what he had to say just because, you know, I still-- committed to finding what happened to Natalee. So, any chance I had to open a door, I was willing to do it.
Kelly says van der Sloot quickly raised the stakes.
CHRIS HANSEN: Give me a sense for the e-mail communications that ensued.
JOHN KELLY: It was about money. It was, you know, "I want to come clean. My father's dead now. I have nothing to hide. I want to help Natalee’s family, but at a price, you know, for a quarter million dollars—“
CHRIS HANSEN: A quarter million dollars?
JOHN KELLY: “Quarter million dollars, I will tell you what happened to Natalee, where she is now so you can help Beth bring her home."
After all the heartbreak and grief, after all the stories he had told, could van der Sloot be believed? Kelly says he immediately went to Beth Holloway with the offer.
CHRIS HANSEN: How hopeful was Beth that this might develop into some sort of closure?
JOHN KELLY: She's always been hopeful. I mean, she can't be anything but hopeful as a mother.
According to Kelly, with Beth Holloway’s blessing, he travelled to Aruba to meet with van der Sloot, who was expecting to receive a down payment of $25,000.
For Kelly, it was a test run. He didn't have the money. It was Easter Sunday. He says they met at the Marriott hotel.
CHRIS HANSEN: And what did he tell you during that meeting?
JOHN KELLY: He alluded to knowing where Natalee’s body was, and how she had died. And I asked him, "Well, what if I don't pay you the $25,000?" And he just said, "Beth can wait another five years."
CHRIS HANSEN: Another five years?
JOHN KELLY: Yeah. He was well aware that the five year anniversary coming up was sort of, it was almost like a clock ticking with him.
CHRIS HANSEN: Describe his demeanor during this initial interview.
JOHN KELLY: He was agitated, nervous and desperate at that time.
After returning to the U.S., Kelly and Beth went to the FBI and the Feds agreed to work with them on a sting operation.
Kelly would set up another meeting with van der Sloot in Aruba and this time bring $10,000 cash from Beth. She would wire an additional $15,000 to van der Sloot’s Netherlands bank account. If van der Sloot took the bait, they might be able to charge him with a crime.
JOHN KELLY: If he took the money, and he took a wire transfer, and it was false information, which you know he has done in the past…
CHRIS HANSEN: Wire fraud.
JOHN KELLY: It's wire fraud. And extortion. And if for some reason, his information was true, the Aruban authorities pick him up on the murder charge.
According to Kelly, the FBI sent an advance team to Aruba to coordinate with Aruban authorities and set up for the sting, outfitting a hotel room and rental car with hidden cameras and microphones.
CHRIS HANSEN: How did you think this was going to play out?
JOHN KELLY: I wasn’t sure. I was just holding my breath, the whole way. Every step of the way.
After a mostly sleepless night, Kelly arrived in Aruba on May 10.
With FBI agents monitoring, Kelly returned to the Marriott hotel, where he says van der Sloot met him.
CHRIS HANSEN: When van der Sloot walks into room 443--
JOHN KELLY: Yeah.
CHRIS HANSEN: --what does he say first?
JOHN KELLY: "How you doing?" He's covered with sweat. He apparently walked from his house to get there. And, you know, I just told him to have a seat. Gave him a Diet Coke. We actually split a Three Musketeers. The one thing I did at the very beginning was show him the $10,000 cash.
CHRIS HANSEN: So, he knew he was getting $10,000 from you in cash?
JOHN KELLY: He was like, "Give me the money now." And I was, "No, you're not getting the money now."
CHRIS HANSEN: And what did he have to do to convince you to hand over the $10,000?
JOHN KELLY: To take the wire transfer and sign the documents I had there, too.
Strangely enough, Kelly says van der Sloot had insisted Kelly draw up a document for both Beth and van der Sloot to sign.
CHRIS HANSEN: And what did those documents say?
JOHN KELLY: That he would take me exactly to where Natalee’s body was, and tell me how she died. And once I had confirmed that, he'd get the other $225,000.
With the documents signed, Kelly says he handed over the cash and confirmed the wire transfer.
Then, Kelly says, they got into the rental car that had been wired by the FBI, and drove to the site where van der Sloot claimed Natalee’s body had been buried.
CHRIS HANSEN: And precisely where did he say Natalee's remains were?
JOHN KELLY: He pointed to a specific room on a house right by the Aruba Racquet Club. The foundation hadn't gone in yet.
CHRIS HANSEN: So, the story was that there was a house being constructed, the foundation was about to be built or poured, and they put Natalee’s remains in there, and the house was built around it?
JOHN KELLY: Correct. And I took pictures of him with a throwaway camera.
CHRIS HANSEN: You actually took pictures of Joran van der Sloot pointing to the location where he says Natalee’s body was?
JOHN KELLY: Yeah.
Then, Kelly says , they got back in the car and that's when van der Sloot told him how Natalee died.
JOHN KELLY: He actually admitted, this was the first time he admitted being personally responsible for physically causing her death.
According to Kelly, van der Sloot claimed that he and Natalee were at the beach and when he wanted to leave, Natalee tried to stop him.
JOHN KELLY: He got angry and actually threw her. He actually made the gesture in the car, on video, showing me how he threw her in anger, because she wouldn't leave at that point. And according to him, she hit the back of her head, lots of blood and she was dead.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you think at the time he was telling the truth?
JOHN KELLY: Ah, no.
But Kelly says he played along and van der Sloot told him he hid the body on the beach with the help of his father who, the following day, buried the body.
CHRIS HANSEN: He implicated his own father in the disposal of the body?
JOHN KELLY: Along with himself, yeah.
CHRIS HANSEN: Why wasn't he arrested on the spot?
JOHN KELLY: That I don't know. I mean, I went down there, I did what I was supposed to do. When I got on the plane May 11, I thought it was a done deal. And he was going to be arrested at some point. That he'd be talking at some point, and we'd get some closure at some point.
Aruban authorities would eventually determine van de Sloot's story about the body being buried at that site could not be true because the house he pointed out was not under construction at the time Natalee disappeared.
In the meantime, Kelly had no way of knowing that Joran van der Sloot would leave Aruba, find his way to Peru and a fateful encounter with Stephany Flores.
In Aruba, on May 10, attorney John Q. Kelly says he gave Joren van der Sloot $25,000 of Beth Holloway’s money.
Working with the FBI and Aruban authorities, Kelly and Holloway hoped that van der Sloot would be arrested-- if not for allegedly implicating himself in Natalee’s death then for extortion or wire fraud.
But van der Sloot was not picked up. After Kelly left Aruba, he says van der Sloot continued to email him.
JOHN KELLY: He was telling me how he was personally going to turn himself into the police, and that he needed more time. And I was pretending like I believed all this, just to keep a line of communication open. I had been in personal contact with Joran up to May 25.
Kelly assumed van der Sloot was still in Aruba-- but he wasn't.
CHRIS HANSEN: Just days after you give him $25,000, he goes to Peru.
JOHN KELLY: Correct.
Then, on May 30, exactly five years to the day after Natalee Holloway’s disappearance, it happened.
Van der Sloot allegedly killed 21-year-old Stephany Flores at this hotel after a night out at a casino in Lima, Peru.
JOHN KELLY: I was dumbfounded.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you have to break the news to Natalee’s mother about the death of this woman in Lima, Peru?
JOHN KELLY: Yes.
CHRIS HANSEN: What did she say?
JOHN KELLY: She just stopped. Just “how could this happen?”
According to Kelly, for Beth Holloway, the thought that her money may have facilitated van der Sloot’s travel plans was almost too much to bear.
JOHN KELLY: It's probably the most horrific, unanticipated nightmarish ending for Beth that you could ever imagine. That her money may have financed his trip to Peru.
CHRIS HANSEN: Has Beth reached out to the family of Stephany Flores ?
JOHN KELLY: Not directly. She's extended her deepest sympathy. She's just really upset. Everything was just like an instant replay of what had happened five years ago.
CHRIS HANSEN: Déjà vu?
JOHN KELLY: Déjà vu.
This week, Beth Holloway appeared at the dedication of the Natalee Holloway Resource Center in Washington, D.C., a coordinating facility designed to help families of missing persons get more help within the first 48-hours.
[Beth Holloway at the dedication]
Let's all remind ourselves and keep the Flores family in our hearts and in our prayers.
In the aftermath of van der Sloot’s alleged crime in Peru, the U.S. Attorney's office in Birmingham charged van der Sloot with extortion and wire fraud.
JOYCE VANCE: This morning my office obtained an arrest warrant for Joran van der Sloot.
The FBI has faced criticism for not arresting van der Sloot immediately after the sting operation....but in a joint statement with the U.S. Attorney's office in Birmingham, Alabama, the bureau said the case "was not sufficiently developed to bring charges prior to the time van der Sloot left Aruba."
Former FBI profiler, and NBC News contributor Clint van Zandt:
VAN ZANDT: Aruba has a history of arresting and releasing this guy already, and he slipped through their hands. So I think the FBI said, “Let's take our time, let's build a good case. I don't think there's any way anyone could have predicted that with a few dollars in his hand he would go to Peru and commit this crime."
Kelly says he does not blame U.S. law enforcement for letting van der Sloot leave Aruba but wonders why the Arubans didn't arrest him as soon as they could.
JOHN KELLY: I think at the minimum, the Aruban authorities could've picked him up, and they had the ability to hold him there at that time. It was their country, it was their island, it was their citizen. They controlled the port, and apparently, they knew he was leaving when he was leaving.
CHRIS HANSEN: Had they prevented him from leaving, arguably, a young woman in Lima, Peru could be alive today.
JOHN KELLY: I don't think it's arguably. If he wasn't in Peru, she'd be alive today.
But Aruba’s Solicitor General Taco Stein says it was up to American officials to decide when to act.
TACO STEIN: It was an American investigation so decisions on whether or not to detain someone has to be taken to the American, by the American. And we can only execute a warrant that has been issued in the U.S. and if there's no warrant there's no grounds to arrest him.
Today, van der Sloot was officially charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the killing of Stephany Flores. The Peruvian judge said the suspect acted with ferocity and great cruelty. Meanwhile, van der Sloot’s attorney challenged the legality of his confession.
in what could be an important break for the Holloway family, Peruvian police officials say Joran van der Sloot told them he knows where Natalee’s remains can be found.
But van der Sloot said he was only willing to share that information with Aruban officials. And Dave Holloway’s Aruban attorney, Vinda Desousa, is highly skeptical about any information from van der Sloot.
VINDA DESOUSA: He's said so much and so much has been said. And that's what he's been playing with, and toying with all along.
In Aruba, will the authorities ever get the information the Holloway family so desperately wants?
Knowing Joran van der Sloot’s reputation, Arubans have their doubts...but many islanders are glad van der Sloot is in custody in Peru.
JOSSY MANSOUR: In the majority of the population, they are glad that the guy was taken off the street.
Jossy Mansour is the editor of Aruba’s largest newspaper and says many Arubans are angry van der Sloot was never charged with any crime in the Natalee Holloway case in the first place.
JOSSY MANSOUR: If you want to put any blame whatsoever you have to put it on the people that investigated this case and let him go. Three judges set him free even though we know there was sufficient evidence to charge him with.
The Holloway family hopes now that van der Sloot is in custody someone else in Aruba might provide the family with solid leads. Natalee's uncle, PAUL REYNOLDS:
PAUL REYNOLDS: I believe that there are people that have this information, that they rethink Joran and their opinion of him. We need to know where Natalee is. That's the only way we can start to move towards closure. And once we know that, then we can talk about justice.
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