Were police justified in assuming Natalee was just off partying somewhere?
ALE's initial failure to take the case seriously, has been defended on the grounds that it was not unusual for tourist girls to disappear for days in Aruba, and that previously those girls had always turned up unharmed, having simply decided to extend their vacation. However, I strongly suspect that this is a myth. It's one thing for a tourist to miss her flight and be unaccounted for, for a few hours. But for a day or more? While knowing that many people would be looking for her? I'd like to see an article in an an Aruban newspaper about such a case. Perhaps there have been some, but if so, probably not very many. It certainly wasn't an everyday occurrence. Furthermore, in this instance there were particular circumstances (the missing girl was last seen getting into a car with male strangers) that should have raised an immediate red flag with investigators.
To me, Beth is a very sympathetic figure. I see no reason to doubt that she is good person, who deserves great compassion for the terrible double injustice she has suffered: First, the disappearance and presumed death of her child, and then, the likely loss of any opportunity to obtain answers and see the guilty punished, due to a badly botched investigation. Although I don't agree with everything Beth has said and done, the determination with which she has fought for her daughter, is worthy of admiration. Had it not been for Beth focusing the attention of the US media on the case, it would probably have been closed and swept under the rug within a few weeks at most. And at first, Beth performed some quite competent, indeed rather impressive investigative work of her own, successfully tracking down the last person seen with Natalee and delivering his name and address to police, within five hours of landing in a completely unfamiliar foreign country.
Unfortunately, ever since then, except for her great success at keeping the case in the public eye, Beth has been her own worst enemy.
By making dozens of claims that are inaccurate, hearsay, inconsistent, or in which she states her opinion as fact, Beth has repeatedly shown herself to be an unreliable source of information. While she is certainly well-justified in suspecting Joran, in her arguments against him and the Kalpoes, she has pursued essentially a battering-ram approach, repeatedly demonstrating an extreme lack of objectivity and critical thinking, in particular an inability to adjust her opinions based on new information. Within weeks of the disappearance, Beth had formed certain opinions, from which she has never wavered: That Natalee was drugged and kidnapped, was sexually assaulted by Joran and the Kalpoes in the car while going "in and out of consciousness", was taken to Joran's home, and was sexually assaulted by him there. And Beth has frequently promoted these ideas in her public appearances, even though they are all completely unsupported by any evidence, and some even fly in the face of such scientific evidence as phone and computer records.
An example of how Beth needlessly undermines her own credibility, by stubbornly pushing her unsubstantiated allegations, is her decision to subtitle her book "The True Story of the Aruba Kidnapping". There is no evidence that Natalee was kidnapped, and the book itself mentions the "Woohoo, Aruba" incident that indicates she was a willing passenger.
Throughout this case, Beth has automatically embraced any claims that seem to incriminate J2K (even if they are not always logically consistent with her stated beliefs about what happened), regardless of their reliability, and continued to repeat them, even when they are debunked or retracted. Examples include her hearsay accounts of Deepak's car being spotted at the Van der Sloot home before the Alabama group first arrived there, and of Paul van der Sloot stating he picked up Joran at McDonald's, at 4:00 am on May 30 (aside from being incompatible with the phone and computer records, it's unclear how such a 4:00 am pickup would be consistent with Natalee having been being left with Joran at his home). Additionally, Beth has maintained that blood was found in Deepak's car, even after Aruban authorities retracted those reports. Apparently, Beth prefers to believe in a cover-up, rather than accept the much more likely innocent explanation, that the changing information was just another instance of ALE incompetence.
Then there is Beth's continued endorsement of the infamous Skeeters tape (the primary basis of her "gang rape" accusations), long after it became apparent that it had been dishonestly edited to change the meaning of what Deepak said. Although in fairness, while at that point Beth should have distanced herself from the tape, she also should never have been placed in such a position. I actually see Beth as the biggest victim of the Skeeters tape fraud.