Natalee Holloway was visiting Aruba with a group of about 100 classmates celebrating their high school graduation when she went to Carlos n' Charlie's that night in 2005. The group had planned to leave for home the following day, and Holloway's packed bags and passport were found in her hotel room after she failed to show up for her flight.
The three men were supposedly the last people seen with Holloway, 18, as she left the nightclub about 1:30 a.m. on May 30, 2005. All three men have maintained their innocence in her disappearance. The three had previously been arrested in 2005 but a court released them, citing insufficient evidence.
They first told police that they dropped off Holloway at the hotel, where she was staying. However, Van der Sloot later acknowledged that this was a lie he and the brothers initially agreed to tell to the authorities. Van der Sloot also states he was alone with Holloway on the beach about 1 km from her hotel, where the three say the two were dropped off. However, he insists that he did not harm her, and that she was fine when he left her on the beach (he says she wanted to stay, while he wanted to go home because he had to go to school later that morning). Accounts differ on how Van der Sloot got back home from the beach: Van der Sloot said that Satish Kalpoe picked him up with the car. Satish Kalpoe denied this.
Her disappearance triggered an exhaustive search and investigation and a media sensation in the United States, Aruba and the Netherlands but she has never been found. I remember Nancy Grace covering this story for months picking up on every silly theory and rumour. I think it was the global media coverage was drove the massive search. Hundreds of volunteers searched the island in 2005 including the army but the a body was never found. The FBI got involved and Dutch F-16s with sophisticated search equipment assisted. A Texas search and rescue company called EquuSearch volunteered its resources and used its sophisticated technology to search the waters surrounding the island.
What made this case even more interesting was that Joran Van der Sloot's father is a Aruban judge. Paulus van der Sloot was arrested in2005 on suspicion of conspiring during or after the alleged crime with his then 17-year-old son. He was freed from jail but remained a suspect. Several months later he won an unjust detention action against the Aruban government.