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Longtime Suspect Joran van der Sloot Admits to Murder of Natalee Holloway

3 minute read

The prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway has admitted to her murder, and pled guilty to charges of extortion and wire fraud in connection with Holloway's death.

Joran van der Sloot, who has long been linked to the girl’s disappearance while on a high school graduation trip to Aruba, was sentenced Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Alabama for trying to sell information about the location of Holloway’s remains to her family in 2010 in exchange for $250,000.

Holloway was last seen leaving a nightclub with van der Sloot and two other men in May 2005, according to the FBI. Van der Sloot has since been arrested multiple times for the murder of Holloway, but released for lack of sufficient evidence.

Van der Sloot contacted the Holloways’ attorney in 2010 and offered to share details about how Natalee died and the location of her remains in Aruba for an initial payment of $25,000, and requested an additional $225,000 after the remains were confirmed to be Holloway’s. The information he provided proved to be “worthless,” according to the indictment, CBS reports. Van der Sloot claimed the body was buried under the foundation of a house, but later said that was untrue.

As part of a plea deal, van der Sloot was required to share what information he knew about Holloway’s disappearance. 

"He said that after killing her on the beach in Aruba, he put her into the water and that was the last that he ever saw her," Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, told reporters after the sentencing. "I'm satisfied knowing that he did it, he did it alone and he disposed of her alone."

Van der Sloot has not been charged in Holloway’s death, as the U.S. does not have jurisdiction over the criminal investigation in Aruba.

Holloway’s case captured media attention for decades and was the subject of true crime podcasts, books, and a documentary. She was declared legally dead by a judge in 2012.

Van der Sloot was sentenced to 20 years in prison, which he will serve concurrently with a 28-year sentence he is currently serving in Peru for the 2010 murder of college student Stephany Flores. He was temporarily released to the United States in June to stand trial on the extortion charges.

“You changed the course of our lives and you turned them upside down,” Holloway’s mother said in court. “You are a killer.”

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Write to Simmone Shah at simmone.shah@time.com