1. by Anthony Shaw
No! The title of this piece is interesting. "Natalee Holloway murder" .... Go no further. There is the perception among a large percentage of the people interested in this case that the girl was indeed "murdered". She has disappeared and is now presumed to be dead. She had been seen in the company of a number of young men in Aruba.
Their behaviour was noticeably suspicious, at least if media reports are to be believed. The Aruba police conducted inquiries, albeit very inefficiently, and released the individuals concerned for lack of evidence.
One of these suspects, a young Dutchman called Joran van der Sloot (about whom I will say more later) keeps turning up like the proverbial bad penny, particularly on Dutch television and in Dutch newspapers.
The important point to make at this point, though, is that there is no concrete evidence that the girl was indeed murdered. Rumours, street legends and speculation abound about what happened to her.
Evidence, though, a precious commodity that would be needed to complete a successful prosecution in a court of law, simply does not exist.
The possibility exists that she died accidentally. At the moment, the possibility of her wandering in a drunken state into the sea and drowning cannot be ruled out. It would seem unlikely, in that no evidence of the body was found when the sea was scanned in the neighbouring area following her disappearance, even if the general perception is that this search was not as thorough as it might have been.
Given the ecological cycle, and the way that creatures of the sea use remains as part of the food chain, it is unlikely after all this time that even the most sophisticated search technology could find much now that would be of use.
There is also the explanation given in one of Joran ven der Sloot's "confessions". He and Natalee were making love on the beach, when she suddenly lost consciousness and died. He panicked and arranged with a local boat-owner for the body to be ditched in the sea.
This is highly irresponsible behaviour, which, if true, constitutes a criminal offense. He could be prosecuted for disposing of a dead body without reporting it. This does not, though, constitute a case for murder. The death in this instance would again fall under the category "accidental".
Then, if you follow this case on YouTube, you can find a number of interesting alternatives that definitely stretch the imagination and seem highly improbable, but have also not been disproved.
These include the girl returning to the United States in a private plane the day before she "disappeared", that she has been seen buying goods from a supermarket, that she was picked up and flown to South America, and sold by white slavers.
Most of these claims cannot be taken seriously, but at the same time need investigating thoroughly. The case of Jaycee Dugard indicates that an individual can vanish for a very long time, and then turn up out of nowhere.
Which leaves us with Joran van der Sloot. This case would probably, long ago, have been filed among those that will never be resolved if it were not for this young man of dubious reputation.
Every so often he has the habit of turning up in some media report, often following attempts on his own part to put himself back in the public gaze. Undoubtedly he seems to enjoy the notoriety that this story has generated.
The problem is that he has developed such a tendency to provide some information which sounds relevant, and then to withdraw it almost as quickly as he produces it.
Reliability and consistency are definitely not his forte. Many of the "confessions" are produced when he is under the influence of marijuana, and withdrawn when the effects have worn off. He may well know the truth of exactly what happened.
The trouble is that nobody can ever be sure when he is telling the truth, when he is fantasising, and when he is simply trying to get the media to take notice of him so that he can enjoy a few more days in the limelight.
So will the Aruba police ever resolve the issue? Or will American or Dutch investigators ever reach a satisfactory conclusion as to what happened? Personally I doubt it.
Finding irrefutable proof after all this time that the girl was murdered is now next to impossible. Getting a full, reliable, confession from any suspect now would also be very difficult.
Rumours will feed off this case for a very long time yet, but the actual facts as to what actually happened will, in all probability, remain a mystery.
2. by Priscilla Benfield
Unfortunately for the family of Natalee Hollaway, they will probably never know how their beloved daughter died or where her remains are. The Aruban police were negligent in how they investigated her disappearance from day one and because of that, nearly six years later, what happened to Natalee is a mystery.
Joran Van Der Sloot is most likely the one person who can answer all the questions involved in this case. Unfortunately, he has told so many different stories about what happened the night Natalee disappeared that knowing what really happened may never be known. After all this time, the chance of finding her remains becomes less and even if remains are found, knowing the true cause of death may be impossible.
For Natalee's family, not knowing what happened to her on her senior trip is a nightmare that they cannot awake from. The Aruban authorities have not been helpful to the family and the lesson for many Americans is to know what kind of country you allow your teenager to visit. Natalee's family has had to learn this lesson the hard way.
Although in some states, senior trips are taken routinely, allowing your teen to go on a trip to another country should only be done with adequate supervision which this Aruban trip did not have. The way of life is different in Aruba and the way they handle crime is far different from how it is handled in the United States.
When Natalee failed to show up when the class was ready to depart Aruba, the authorities were not efficient in doing a complete search and investigation. How a teenager on a class trip is able to hang out in casinos unsupervised lead to her meeting a local bad boy who ultimately is most likely responsible for her disappearance. As a parent, I would be outraged that my daughter would be allowed such freedom in a foreign country. The chaperone's did nothing to keep this girl safe.
Once she went missing, the Arubian authorities did not put enough pressure on Joran because of his father's ties to the government. Natalee's parents immediately came to Aruba and passed out fliers and desperately searched for their daughter. The Arubian police should have been more help to them.
Letting all this time go by without Joran being held to a statement has just made it easier for him to get away with murder. We have to assume that there was a murder because Natalee has not been found. Even without a body, the statements Joran and his friends have made lead us all to believe that Natalee is no longer living. Who is responsible for her death will never be known.
It would be a miracle if Natalee was to suddenly appear, perhaps she had been sold as a sex slave and finally managed to escape. That is probably not going to happen. The more likely story is that whether accidental or not, Natalee is dead and Joran knows where her body is.
After six long years, it would be a wonderful thing for her family to finally be able to put her to rest but without her remains they will probably always hold out hope. It is sad that Joran knows the answers to their questions but will never admit the truth. The Aruban government, whether through the pressure of Joran's father or their own incompetence, messed up the entire investigation. Because of this, the person responsible for the disappearance and probable murder of Natalee Hollaway will never be known.
3. by Vonda Sines
This is one instance in which I really hope I'm wrong.
However, I doubt that Natalee Holloway's killer will ever reside behind Aruban bars. Here are six reasons why:
1. Natalee disappeared on May 30, 2005, nearly three years ago. Despite fairly steady press for much of this time, the murder remains unsolved. Leads and arrests pop up now and again. However, they end up going nowhere. Despite the differences between the U.S. and Aruban criminal justice systems that journalists attempt to repeatedly describe in detail, three years is a very long time. It's too long a time for Natalee's family and friends to keep up the pressure on Aruban officials to continue or reopen any investigation even if the Arubans were so inclined.
2. Politics plays a huge role in how this case is handled. At various times, Joran van der Sloot has been named a suspect in the Holloway girl's disappearance and has admitted spending time with her. After the recent publicity regarding a tape in which he allegedly discussed her death and subsequent disposal of the body, he's in the limelight again. However, the fact remains that his father is an Aruban judge. Based on that fact alone, if he killed the teenager, he will probably get away with it. It's a small island.
3. Tourism is also a major factor. Having a convicted killer of an American teenager on vacation locked up on your island hardly increases the tourist trade. As crass as it sounds, hosting a major unsolved mystery on your doorstep is a bit more intriguing. It's a lot like advertising a haunted house.
4. The U.S. Government can do little to exert any more pressure on Aruban officials. Hundreds of telephone calls have been made. Emails have been sent. Can you think of many products Americans could boycott in our stores to make a point? I can't.
5. The tally is already too high. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to unravel what happened. Should a person's life have a price tag? I hardly think so. But the donors have already given tons of money, and the volunteers who searched and searched again have gone home. Natalee's mother and stepfather have divorced.
6. People don't like to consider the circumstances if she's really alive. We immediately think of a slender blonde teenager spirited off the island to enter the white slave trade. It some respects, it's easier for most people to avoid exerting pressure to solve the case. And as long as they settle for the status quo, there will be no killer behind bars.
I'm sure all of us would much prefer to have this one turn out like the Elizabeth Smart case. However, that's just unlikely.