By Donna R. Gore, M.A.
To this blogger, the name Natalee Holloway is nearly a “household name,” synonymous with other unsolved crimes which have gone before her. We can readily conjure up a mental picture of this bubbly, bright, blonde young woman, “free at last” away from parental influence and on the precipices of adulthood, sipping her island drink. Unfortunately, she was totally unprepared for the local male vultures that make a game of taking advantage of female tourists.
The birth of the Natalee Holloway Resource Center sheds some dignified light and effort on this tragic “missing person presumeddead” case. The NHRC, based in Washington D.C. and housed within the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, is “a charitable foundation dedicated to helping missing persons and does not represent the Holloway family.” (“per se”) (Although Beth Holloway spent five years searching for an appropriate way to honor her daughter and endorses this venture-LJ).
The dastardly deeds of the person of interest and primary suspect are probably all too familiar. A brief account is more ink than he deserves…. Joran van der Sloot is the narcissistic womanizer, pathological liar with a very short fuse.
Natalee was reported missing and presumed murdered on Thursday, May, 30, 2005 when she did not report to her group for a return trip home following a high school graduation trip in Aruba.
Murderer’s Timeline Within the Past Year
(as reported on the NHRC website)
February 25, 2010
‘Still another “confession” 20 and counting…. Seriously!
Former confessions include:
- Joran and his friends dropped her off at her hotel;
- Joran left her on the beach alone;
- Joran sold her to a man in a boat for $10,000;
- A friend disposed of her body after she had a seizure following their sexual encounter;
- Joran dumped her body in a swamp;
According to the NHRC web information, van der Sloot has not been arrested to date due to a lack of corroboration from witnesses and the lack of forensic evidence. Although computer and cell phone communications have been established between suspects, apparently, prosecutors have no substantial physical evidence as a prerequisite.
Thus, witness testimony has been the focus as well as the innumerable false confessions.
March 19, 2010
Scuba divers come forward claiming an underwater photo depicts the remains of a person, potentially Natalee Holloway. Outcome: Testing proves this to be a specious claim.
June 2, 2010
Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramirez is found dead in a Peruvian hotel room. Joran van der Sloot is again noted to be the last person to see and interact with her at a gaming casino and is “under suspicion of murder.”
June 3, 2010
van der Sloot flees Peru for Santiago, Chile on the day that Stephany goes missing. Van der Sloot is extradited via Interpol.
June 6, 2010
The FBI files two criminal complaints in the Natalee Holloway case involving wire fraud and extortion. Van der Sloot reportedly extorted $15,000 from Beth Holloway as partial payment to reveal the location of Natalee’s body. (Total requested $250,000). As a wire transfer was used, this represents “a scheme to defraud” with the possible penalty of up to 20 years for extortion and 30 years for wire fraud.
June 8, 2011
Joran van der Sloot confesses to the murder of Stephany Ramirez. News accounts state that Stephany invades van der Sloot’s privacy by reading information about him from his laptop computer, enraging him; whereupon he breaks her neck, killing her. Possible sentence: 15 to 35 years in prison.
June 11, 2011
During the interrogation of Stephany Ramirez’ murder, van der Sloot claims to know the location of Natalee Holloway’s body. However, he will only reveal it to Aruban police. (Let’s make a deal anyone?? LJ)
June 16, 2010
Aruban and Peruvian authorities pledge to “work together” via separate interviews and forensic analyses of the laptop computer. In the meantime, van der Sloot is jailed in the maximum securityCastro Castro prison in Peru. And… his attorney temporarily quits following the receipt of death threats.
June 17, 2010
A hearing is announced on the Ramirez murder with a promise to share any information revealed that is related to Natalee.
June 23, 2010
van der Sloot claims he “was tricked into a confession” concerning the Ramirez killing…
***A psychological evaluation reveals “a low tolerance for frustration, especially when being contradicted, emotional immaturity leading to lack of self-control and de-valuing of the female role.”
June 28, 2010
Claims of “rights violations” prove to be unfounded. Go directly to jail… Do not pass go… Do not collect $200.00!
August 25, 2010
Joran keeps trying…. Continued requests to have his confession of Stephany’s murder thrown out for… “ improper representation and a non-official translator.”
Re: Natalee Holloway Case- van der Sloot remains a suspect. However, no charges are filed.
No news…is hardly good news! However, Ladyjustice was able to view previous footage of this Peruvian Jail. It should be named “Animal House” – such a fitting name for Joran! He is housed inLurigancho Prison, which is the worst of the worst,” Michael Griffith, senior partner at theInternational Legal Defense Counsel, tells AOL News. “They should have a sign above the door there saying, ‘All those who pass this way leave all hope behind.’ “
1) According to the U.S. Department of State, 2,500 citizens are arrested abroad each year. Nearly half of the arrests are for very small amounts of narcotics. Alcohol abuse is typically involved; Sexual assaults and robberies occur because students/travelers find themselves in unfamiliar locations. “Date rape drugs” are not identified often until it is too late… Such travelers cannot protect themselves under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Frequently, they are also unfamiliar with different standards of safety abroad. Motor vehicle deaths are the second most common causes of death abroad after natural death.
The State Department endorses a program called Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order for their agency to contact a student traveler in the case of emergency in the U.S. or while in a foreign country. (http://studentsabroad.state.gov). In addition, the Department of Homeland Security’s Website: www.getyouhome.gov can assist with passport and other required documents.
As a society, we need only look in our own backyards to see examples of Spring Break gone wrong with potential terrible consequences. In addition, others seeking careers internationally have been victims of the most horrendous crimes imaginable.
2) Such is the case of Ladyjustice’s friend. Since April 14, 2005, Maxine Russell has dedicated every waking moment to her primary purpose, that of finding the true answers in the horrific treatment and ultimate death of her son Darren, living in China. Darren was embarking on a new career as a missionary teacher in China. This so called “traffic accident” has become an international cover up of the greatest proportion, irreparably changing the lives of her entire family, taking its toll physically, emotionally, financially and otherwise! Please go to the new website created at: www.russellcase.net (website) and on Twitter at killed_in_China.
3)The Natalee Holloway Resource Center
The Natalee Holloway Resource Center focuses on education, and crime prevention. It is not a “recovery center.” This is a misnomer, as we survivors of crime know; there is no “recovery”. There is no “closure”.
NHRC shares selected goals similar to other organizations such as the gathering of resources, coordination of a plan to search for the missing and means to contact the media for purposes of public awareness.
However, in the opinion of Ladyjustice, what makes the NHRC unique includes a mission focusing on educational programs for teens, a traveling safe program, promoting careers in forensic science and law enforcement and providing educational curriculums on law enforcement for “high risk students.”
Ladyjustice chooses to focus on the traveling safe program, as it is often so overlooked, and certainly a contributing factor in Natalee’s death!
The Travel Safe Program includes general and specific safety tips and detailed checklists for domestic and international travel. Although many of the suggestions may be common sense, many people are not obsessive when it comes to the details of planning a vacation. With teens in particular, it’s “throw a couple of pairs of shorts in a duffle bag with your bathing suit… and you’re done! Nothing could be further from the truth when you are travelling to a foreign country. Just ask Maxine Russell…. She will tell you!
Readers, please indulge Ladyjustice for including the detailed list here and now. It is so important… It could save a life. (Be sure to check the website for handy checklists too!)
Make A Difference Natalee Holloway Resource Center www.helpthemissing.org Developed by National Museum of Crime & Punishment
Domestic and International Travel Tips
The key to safe traveling in any area is situational awareness. Distractions because of luggage, children, hotel personnel, strangers, etc. can put you at risk.
Know your surroundings and stay in control of every situation. Look and act confident. Be alert.
Act like you know where you are going. Do not look lost or confused; simply look for an authoritative person or company in which you can ask for directions.
Never flash your money in public. Exchange funds with reputable and recognized exchangers only.
Do not discuss travel plans, your room number or any other personal information in public within earshot of strangers.
Watch for scams on the street. Children working with adults are notorious as pickpockets.
Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
1) Documentation/Personal Information
Passport, cash and credit cards should be kept in a hotel safe or in various places on your body.
Avoid handbags, fanny packs and outside pockets – inside pockets or a sturdy shoulder bag with the strap worn across your chest. Consider locking/tying the zippers shut.
Be aware of pick picketers.
Never list your home address on the luggage tag. If on business, put the company’s address on the tag; if visiting friends you can list their address. Use covered luggage tags as well.
Stay with your luggage until the luggage is checked. If you must put your bag down, keep one foot on the handle.
Carry important papers with you; NEVER check anything that you simply cannot afford to lose.
If possible travel with only one or two credit cards, and keep them in separate storage areas/pockets.
Do not wear name tags in public.
Leave a copy of your passport identification page, airline tickets, driver’s license, the credit cards you’re taking, serial numbers of your travelers’ checks, insurance information, as well as the addresses and phone numbers of the places you’ll be. Having copies of these documents at home will allow your family or friends to contact you or help you in case of an emergency. (Carry additional copies of these documents with you on your trip, separate from the originals.)
Consider bringing your driver’s license, even if you didn’t plan to drive, as when faced with an emergency, you may need to drive.
Visit www.travel.state.gov before you travel abroad.
Register your travel. http://studentsabroad.state.gov/
The Consular Information Program consists of three main components that provide information to the American public about travel to specific countries: Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.
Familiarize yourself with your destination.
If you are planning to drive, familiarize yourself with driving laws.
Learn the emergency contact number, as “9-1-1” isn’t universal in every country.
Do not carry or buy recreational drugs. Besides this being against the law, other countries often have different penalties that can include the death penalty.
Know the liquid limits and luggage weight limits for traveling prior to date of travel and pack accordingly.
3) Culture/customs/local activities
Learn the local dress code and any religious dress customs; buy appropriate clothing locally if necessary.
Learn some phrases in the local language or have them handy in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help.
Never wear anything that projects affluence. No gold chains, expensive watches and rings, luggage, or other paraphernalia should be in easy view. Best option: leave your jewelry at home.
Never accept a drink from a stranger. Keep an eye on your drink at all times.
Vary your schedule; try not to come and go at the same time every day.
Never leave with a stranger.
Never go out alone. Use the buddy system!
Convert your cash before you go abroad.
Know the US dollar ratio.
Use Travelers’ Checks.
Consider using prepaid credit cards, as in the case of theft or loss, at least there are limited funds on the card.
If your cell phone does not work outside of the country, consider renting one that does for the duration of your trip. Consider purchasing a worldwide cellular SIM card before you travel.
Consider purchasing portable alarms that emit a loud sound.
You may want to purchase several calling cards.
Purchase a mini translator, or a dictionary.
Establish a Skype account before you travel. This allows international calls for free via the internet.
Bring a small flashlight. You never know when you’ll suddenly be “in the dark” and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings.
If you must rent a car, rent only from a reputable company. Any operating problems that occur could signal sabotage.
Familiarize yourself with train and bus schedules before traveling. Have an alternate plan in place in the event your transportation plans change.
Confirm cost of journey/travel prior to entering a taxi.
Do not use unmarked taxi cabs.
Beware of taxi drivers wanting to take diversions while on route- to shopping areas (as often they get commission from store owners to do this).
Sit behind the driver so you can see him, but he cannot see you.
Pay the driver upon arriving at your destination and while you are still sitting in the vehicle.
Be aware of ‘staged’ car accidents meant to catch you off guard.
Back into your parking spaces to facilitate a quick exit.
Park only in well lit and well traveled areas.
Never pick up hitchhikers.
Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly lit streets.
If you do not feel safe stopping at a red light, proceed safely with caution.
Keep your car doors locked at all times, including when you are in the vehicle.
Only pull over for the police.
7) US Emergency Contacts
Discuss with your family/home contact, what they would do in event of an emergency while away from home, e.g. whom to call, how to contact emergency personnel, etc.
Provide your family/home with your itinerary and all travel information and contacts.
Write down important contact numbers that you will need, in the event that your cell phone gets lost or stolen.
While traveling, if you plan to use an internet café, ensure that you log out of all applications- especially any application that has your private or confidential information.
Traveling with Children:
Write your child’s name, your contact information and your hotel number on an index card; include close friends or relatives contact information. Give a card to each child which they will carry with them as long as you are traveling. Destroy once home.
Bring along an updated photograph of each child in the event that you become separated from them.
Consider writing your cell phone number on an item/labeled pined to your child
Visit the Travelers’ Health page of the CDC- http://www.cdc.gov/travel
If your medical insurance does not cover you abroad, purchase a short-term policy that does.
Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled.
If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair with you. If you wear contacts, take a pair of eye-glasses with you too.
Make sure your prescription medication is not considered and illegal narcotic.
Travel with a basic first aid kit with bandages, iodine, mosquito repellant, sunscreen, alcohol packets, motion sickness pills, stomach upset/diarrhea medicine, etc.
Research the nearest and best hospitals or urgent care facilities and pharmacies.
Bring any medicines you need in your carry-on luggage.
Make sure that your prescription medicines are filled properly and labeled accurately. Ensure that you have enough medicine in the event your return trip gets delayed.
Research area and make reservation(s) with a reputable hotel. Use online reference sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp, to view visitor’s comments.
Only stay in a hotel that uses cards to open room doors and make sure your room has a peephole and a deadbolt lock. Secure the chain and secure the door by pushing a rubber stop under it.
Keep your hotel door locked at all times. Meet visitors in the lobby. Do not allow any strangers into your hotel room.
Do not leave money and other valuables in your hotel room while you are out. Use the hotel safe.
Have gratuity/tips ready in advance for service personnel.
Know the identity of any visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don’t invite strangers to your hotel room, or to remote locations.
Try to stay in a room near a stairwell. Never take the elevator if a fire or smoke is detected. Always stay in a hotel where the doors enter the hallway and not directly from the outside.
Read the fire safety instructions in your hotel room. Know how to report a fire, and be sure you know where the nearest fire exits and alternate exits are located. (Count the doors between your room and the nearest exit; this could be a lifesaver if you have to crawl through a smoke-filled corridor.)
Make note of the US Embassy in the country you are traveling to- http://www.usembassy.gov/
You can learn more about Donna Gore, "LadyJustice" at her website: www.donnagore.com