The mystery of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance has haunted the world for years. A beautiful young woman, full of promise and on the cusp of her future, vanished without a trace during a high school graduation trip to Aruba in 2005.
The case, filled with twists, turns, and heart-wrenching moments, has been the subject of countless news reports, FBI topics, documentaries, and even a made-for-TV movie.
12 years ago, the name Natalee Holloway dominated newspaper headlines and cable news coverage.
The 18-year-old high school grad disappeared on a class trip to Aruba in May 2005.
Her body has never been found, no one has been convicted in her death, and her family has never gotten closure.
That could all change now, with the evidence uncovered by her father, Dave Holloway, in the six-part Oxygen series The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
In fact, Dave even found out what (allegedly) happened to his daughter’s body…
The prime suspect in the case is Joran Van Der Sloot, a Dutch man who was 17 at the time and living in Aruba.
One of the last people to see Natalee alive, Joran has been arrested twice but never charged.
Despite his repeated admissions and retractions of guilt, the truth of what happened to Natalee remains elusive. Van der Sloot’s involvement in the case has only deepened the mystery, with his inconsistent stories and his subsequent conviction for a different murder in Peru.
He’s currently serving a 28-year prison sentence after confessing to the 2010 murder of a Peruvian woman.
Now, In Touch has screened footage of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway in which an informant named Gabriel implicates Joran and Joran’s late father, Paul.
According to Gabriel, Joran gave Natalee GHB, a common date rape drug.
“Joran tried to kiss her, but she was foaming at the mouth,” he says on the show. “He panicked, and she choked on her own vomit,” Gabriel continues. “She died, and within two to three hours Joran and Paul buried her.”
According to Gabriel, Paul “stomped on her legs and folded her over” to fit her in a burlap sack.
Talking to Dave, Gabriel explains that Joran gave instructions about disposing Natalee’s remains to a mutual acquaintance named John Ludwick five years after her disappearance.
“You guys were getting close to finding the body,” he tells the grieving father.
“Joran told John, ‘I’ll pay you $1,500 if you go and dig the body up.’ They uncovered the body in the national forest, dug it up, and took it to the morgue.”
Gabriel reveals John found Natalee’s remains only three feet underground.
“The bones were moldy,” he says. “There was two inches of black lard from the body… and her blond hair.”
He continues, “The body got cremated, and then they threw her ashes in the ocean, low tide. That’s what John told me.”
It was an acquaintance of Paul’s that conducted the cremation at the morgue, Gabriel says. Then John and Joran dumped the ashes in the Caribbean.
After hearing Gabriel’s account, Dave enlisted his longtime private investigator, T.J. Ward, to conduct an 18-month sting operation, which In Touch says has brought them “closer than ever to finding evidence that will lead to Joran’s conviction.”
The Oxygen series will show that sting operation, with Dave and T.J. employing cutting-edge surveillance and interrogation methods in their search for the truth.
Dave and T.J. even got an on-camera sit-down with John, during which he admits to helping dig up Natalee’s remains.
“Joran didn’t do it himself; there are some other players out there,” Dave told In Touch.
“It’s just a matter of getting them to the table and proving it … Justice will be served.”
“This series gives viewers rare access to Dave Holloway’s gut-wrenching search for answers,” Oxygen exec Rod Aissa says in a statement to PEOPLE.
“He embarks on an immersive journey full of twists, turns and, most considerably, a new lead that could deliver justice for Natalee once and for all.”
The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway premieres on Saturday, August 19 at 9 p.m. ET on Oxygen.
However, as with any development in this case, caution is necessary. Over the years, there have been numerous false leads and dead ends. The hope is that this is not another one of those instances. The world watches and waits, hoping for the truth and justice for Natalee.
The saga of Natalee Holloway’s disappearance is a stark reminder of the dangers that can lurk even in paradise. It’s a tale of a father’s relentless pursuit of truth and a family’s unwavering hope for closure.
Similarly, there are other stories of resilience and hope, like the journey of Katie Piper, a woman who underwent 400 surgeries after a brutal attack and has since become an inspiration for many
As we await further details on Dave Holloway’s claim, we can only hope that this tragic story will finally have its resolution, and that Natalee Holloway can finally rest in peace.