Birmingham Alabama strikes a few nerves with this article on the Holloway case
By Chuck Geiss
January 12, 2006
Natalee Holloway’s mysterious disappearance in Aruba during a high school graduation trip drew unprecedented attention from the national media. While fresh news is now rare, a newly published article by Bryan Burroughs in Vanity Fair provides the most recent account of what happened on the island during the weeks following Holloway’s disappearance. The article provides few new facts, but more sensationally it points a finger at the Twitty family for being heavy-handed with the police. Burroughs proposes that their approach hindered the investigation, but the Vanity Fair article gives an incomplete account of what the Twittys and the Holloway's endured in the search for their daughter. Moreover, two of Burroughs’ primary sources should be challenged.
Gerald Dompig, the island’s deputy chief of police, characterizes the Twittys and their American friends as unnecessarily aggressive and unruly during the early weeks of the search.
However, I visited the Twittys on the island two weeks after Natalee’s disappearance, and the family’s temperament was much calmer than I had expected. A tense situation was made worse by a series of tips and leads that sent the family and friends in dozens of different directions while police remained remarkably unfazed. The family complied with island officials for weeks and turned to the international media only after concluding that continued silence about their frustrations was a losing proposition. Unfortunately, Vanity Fair did not report the full extent of the family’s travails.
Burroughs’ other doubtful source is Julia Renfro, an American-born newspaper reporter who works at one of the island’s dailies. She befriended the Twittys at first, but has since turned on them, which is a substantial aspect of Burroughs’s Vanity Fair story. Renfro was seemingly a big help to the family in the initial weeks of the search, but her motives for doing so are dubious. It is my contention she was either a newspaper reporter aggressively interested in getting a story or just someone starved for attention.
The reason Renfro suddenly found the Twittys disinterested in her help was the fact that she also orchestrated, or at least contributed to, one of the cruelest hoaxes of the investigation. Twelve days after Natalee’s disappearance, Renfro suddenly appeared in downtown Oranjestad where Jug Twitty had made an unplanned stop to buy some clothes (the circumstances surrounding how she found him remain mysterious). Renfro was hysterical over news that Natalee had been found dead and her body had been moved to the island’s courthouse. When asked where she had learned these details, she claimed it had come from one of her regular sources, a deputy information officer in the justice department.
What followed was a frantic, ten-block car race to the courthouse made more uncomfortable by the fact that Renfro had pushed herself into the family’s already full minivan (she took a spot on the console), conspicuously inserting herself, perhaps now as a newspaper reporter, into the unfolding story. Upon arriving at the courthouse, a throng of television cameras met the family. What happened next was a long, uncomfortable walk to the courthouse where Jug and his friends found a locked door and an apparently empty building. It was later learned that no justice department official had ever leaked the information. The incident was yet another nightmarish spectacle that the family endured during weeks of searching for their daughter. Renfro’s contribution to the occasion was the beginning of the end of her association with the family (another fact not found in the Vanity Fair story). It should be considered that while the search for Natalee Holloway continues, it took weeks for the family to figure out which personalities on the island were credible or not, which has led to some hurt feelings along the way.
January 14, 2006 seems Aruban authorites will aid TES
Finally a positive meeting between Chief Dompig and Tim Miller. Dompig has approved all of TES requests. The Aruban authorities will help in any way possible and are interested in finding Natalee. The cooperation from the Aruban authorities is great. There is a promise of constant communication between Tim and Chief Dompig and Tim expects this level of cooperation to only get better.
Aruban police are searching sand dunes along Aruba’s northeast coast in attempts to make a break in the case for missing Alabama teenage Natalee Holloway. Jossy Mansur with Aruba's “Diario” newspaper and Holloway family attorney John Q. Kelly joined Rita Cosby on ‘Live and Direct’ to discuss the recent developments as well as a gag order in the case.
'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' for January 18
Guest: Jossy Mansur, John Q. Kelly, Art Wood, James Whitaker, Vito
RITA COSBY, MSNBC ANCHOR, LIVE & DIRECT: But first, could thereby a new lead in the search for missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway? The answer could very well be yes, as Aruban police search sand dunes along Aruba's northeast coast.
The island's deputy police chief now says credible information lead to this latest hunt for clues. These sand dunes could be the very last place where Natalee Holloway was seen alive by three young men previously held by Aruban authorities in her disappearance.
Tonight, we also have new information about a gag order in this case. LIVE & DIRECT right now, Jossy Mansur with Aruba's “Diario” newspaper. Also here is Holloway family attorney John Q. Kelly.
Jossy, starting with you, what do you know about this search? What was sort of the tip to go back to the sand dunes?
JOSSY MANSUR, “DIARIO” NEWSPAPER: The tip hasn't been revealed to us. There is a tip that one witness gave to the police that started this whole search at the area of the dunes. They have been searching yesterday. I think they were searching today. They still have about 20 more hours of searches to do.
COSBY: Jossy, you say one witness, who is this witness? When did this information come forward? Is it a new witness?
MANSUR: It's a witness the police recently interviewed. He gave an alibi, the alibi didn't work out. So, that started the police on this new search of the sand dunes. In the meantime, Tim and his people, are searching the oceans for a fish trap.
COSBY: You know, Jossy, you say he gave an alibi. Are you suggesting that police were talking to him as a possible suspect or having some involvement in the case?
MANSUR: The police did talk to quite a range of Joran's friends in the last few weeks. One of them apparently turned out to be of interest to them. They questioned him further. He gave some kind of an inkling or clue that they believe in that the girl was buried or is buried somewhere in the dunes.
COSBY: That's really significant. John, let me go to you.
JOHN Q. KELLY, HOLLOWAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Sure.
COSBY: John, what have you heard? Hearing now this was a friend—this is one of the things I was hearing a lot what we were down in Aruba, that his friends could have some information or connection—are you getting a sense, as a representative of the family, that there's a representative here?
KELLY: Yes, I talked Karen Janssen (ph) yesterday and Gerold Dompig today, and as I understand it this is a new tip that came in within the last week. They felt it was fairly credible and it was very detailed. They would have been remiss not to follow through on it.
What they're doing it they're going to search the entire sand dune area with their probes, their metal probes. And hopefully there was some involvement, today we're trying to coordinate getting the FBI in there with cadaver dogs immediately afterwards to go through the turned up sand and soil.
COSBY: And you know, John, the fact that they are using cadaver dogs, and the thing we heard from Jossy that may be buried. Obviously, that's an ominous sign, but are you getting inkling, again, as Jossy was suggesting, maybe she was buried there?
KELLY: Well, yes. I mean, some of the information was confidential but there has been some very important information in terms of activity on the sand dunes, both that night when they were up at the lighthouse, which is directly across from the sand dunes there, and some observations that were made immediately afterwards, the next day by certain people involved in the initial search for Natalee. So, it's always been a particular place of interest all along. And I'm glad they're doing a very thorough search now.
COSBY: In fact, both of you, I want to show a little clip. Because I was down there with private investigator Art Wood. I was in Aruba many, many months ago. But at that point, he was talking about the sand dunes. And talking about what may have happened down there. We want to show you that.
COSBY: What are some of the theories of what happened here in the dunes that night.
ART WOOD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, we know that the boys claimed to have come out here around the lighthouse. We also know that the brothers say Joran was molesting her in the back seat of the car. Joran, himself, claims to have left her on the beach asleep. There are a lot of theories in this case. One of them is that this girl overdosed and died and they buried her in the dunes.
We heard that early on in this case. We've tried to follow every lead that we could. And I think that it's very strange that belt pops out of the sand, right here, where somebody says that they helped bury a girl.
COSBY: You know, Jossy, that's a pretty big area, isn't it, that they're checking? The dunes are pretty high?
JOSSY: Yes, this is a pretty big area. I think Art Wood has narrowed it down to a place where he did find a belt that was buried there. The belt was given over to the police. But we haven't heard anything more belt it just simply disappeared.
COSBY: In fact, I think they were saying that the belt was too old to be tested? Which Art would have physically looked at the belt, said it looked like there was still some good stuff on there to be able to at least determine whether or not it was connected.
What do you know about the gag order, too, Jossy. There is apparently a gag order on Chief Dompig. And I want to show what we've learned, is that Aruba's attorney general issued the gag order. Deputy Police Chief Gerold Dompig and Prosecutor Karen Janssen aren't allowed to talk about the case. Why are they trying to shut them up, Jossy?
MANSUR: I have no idea, but the gag order is a reality. I've heard about this. I've known about this gag order for some time now and they are strictly forbidden to talk to anyone in the media to begin with, and anyone else outside of the investigative team.
COSBY: That's very interesting. Because Dompig was on our show saying, he believes the three boys are guilty as hell.
John, have you seen Joran Van Der Sloot's—it looks like this is sort of his web site, which is what a lot of people believe. On it, there are interesting pictures and I think some troubling things. If you look at his blog, it—one of the pages—there's a picture, on top of it, there's a caption, no body, no case making fun of the situation. You can see it there with the picture of him with his family with his mother and father. You know, how disturbing is this? John?
KELLY: It's really disturbing. And as I understand it that's a statement that's originally attributed to his father, when he advised him. The father, Paul Van Der Sloot, who is now in court looking for monetary damages, which is shameful to say the least.
But apparently he got them lawyered up. He told them not to use their e-mails, not to use their cell phones, and to get a consistent story and assured them, that if there was no body found, there'd nobody case. And from all suggestions it appears he was at least complicit in the conspiracy to cover up whatever happened that night.
COSBY: It's very disturbing. John and Jossy, thank you very much for the new information.
Again, Jossy is saying a friend of Joran's is apparently what led authorities to go back. He said there's credible information, they are checking the sand dunes. We'll keep you posted if anything breaks on that development on that case.
Also, everybody, if you'd like to look at Joran Van Der Sloot's bizarre pictures yourself, we'll have a link to his page on our web site, that is going to start tomorrow morning. Be sure to go onto rita.msnbc.com. We'll have the link up tomorrow morning.
Well, the latest round of searches for Natalee Holloway are in the sand dunes of Aruba. Divers are still planning to take to the waters off Aruba, in the coming weeks to look for clues.
LIVE & DIRECT tonight is underwater search specialist James Whitaker; he just got back from a few days in Aruba
James, I want to start with this new information about the sand dunes. You were talking to authorities down there. What did they tell you as sort of what is leading them back to the dunes? Did they tell you a friend of Joran's was giving new clues?
JAMES WHITAKER, UNDERWATER SEARCH SPECAILIST: No, they didn't elaborate on what the clue was. They just said there was good, credible information to lead them there. And we actually found out about it after they were on already there working the area.
COSBY: When did they start it, James? How long have they been out there? Two days? How long?
WHITAKER: It's been about two days now, yeah.
COSBY: You've seen the site for yourself. Sort of describe it for our viewers. I was out there, too.
WHITAKER: Well, this is a volcanic island. There's lots of big boulders and big piles of rocks. And there's wind blowing all the time in one direction. It piles and drifts the sand. It's pretty deep in areas.
COSBY: You know, I understand that your team offered Aruban authorities your equipment. You've got pretty good state-of-the-art equipment. What was their response? I understand they were a little tepid.
WHITAKER: Well, that's true. They never took the offer seriously from my take on it. But we were talking about using ground penetrating radar which is more appropriate for this area, because the cadaver dogs will be somewhat limited with high winds. They have to get their nose right in there—
COSBY: What do you think, was it because you're an outsider, James?
What was the reason?
WHITAKER: Well, I don't have a take on that. I don't know what—why they're standoffish. Maybe they may take our offer up after they're finished doing what they're—what they have planned there with the cadaver dogs, and using all the searching people they have there. Maybe they will use the ground penetrating radar at the end of it, but we have no indication of that at this point.
COSBY: Now, separately I know you're looking at the waters. You'll be checking about five miles off the coast there. Why is that area so key? Explain to our viewers—I was there. It's right near the fisherman's hut. Right where the cage was missing, there was a knife, when the hut was broken into that night when Natalee vanished. Describe why that area seems to be key and Dompig, the police chief is leading you there.
WHITAKER: The other story is, as you say, the missing trap, which is a steel crab trap of sufficient size. It's larger than traps we use in this country. And it's big enough for her to be put into and taken out to sea and dumped. And sea has been searched out to 150 feet of water depth. But the equipment they had down there, that's all the deeper they could get. Three to five miles out we're approaching the deepest part of 1,000 feet. I have the equipment to go out and search in that area. That's what the plan is.
COSBY: We wish you a lot of luck. Please keep us posted, Jim, thank you very much.
|This was never Joran's website, in spite of all the accusations suggested on the cable news shows.|