Monday, June 14, 2010
by Diane Fanning
Many feel Joran van der Sloot should be behind bars for the murder of Natalee Holloway. Instead, he's been traipsing around the world. Now, it may be time for him to pay--unfortunately, another young woman had to die to make that possible.
When 18-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared while on vacation in Aruba in late May 2005, her parents zeroed in on 17-year-old Joran van der Sloot. He was the last person seen with Natalee and he kept changing his story.
Dutch authorities obviously shared their suspicion, arresting Joran twice—but never charging him with her murder. Hope for closure in the case died from a combination of investigative error, an island desire to minimize the crime for the sake of tourism and the hostility generated by Natalee’s parents who made inadvertent missteps as they were caught up in an alien justice system. It appeared that, short of the miraculous discovery of a body, with compelling, intact forensic evidence, there would never be any justice for Natalee Holloway.
For five years, he’s tormented Natalee’s parents through titillating interviews with bloggers and members of the media. Most recently, he accepted a $25,000 down payment in two installments toward the $250,000 he requested from Beth Holloway. In return, he said he’d argued with Natalee and threw her on the ground. Her head hit a rock and she died. He also said that his father—who conveniently died in February—helped him to bury her body in the foundation of a house. A week later, he sent an email saying that he lied.
Along with many others, I believed that it was only a matter of time before Joran was accused of another act of violence against a woman. His obvious narcissism and clear disdain for Natalee’s grieving family made that a foregone conclusion. We could only hope that, this time, it would not be fatal.
Stephany Flores Ramirez (below right) encountered Joran in a casino where they were both gambling. She won a $10,000 pot using some money fronted by Joran. They went to his room to divide up the winnings. According to Joran, she was on his laptop and accessed an article about Natalee Holloway. He said that was a gross and intolerable invasion of his privacy. "I didn't want to do it," he said. "The girl intruded in my life."
Joran confessed to this murder but his defense attorneys are now saying the confession was coerced and not admissible in a court of law. I imagine Joran is now entertaining fantasies of getting away with this homicide, too.
However, he is facing an entirely differently situation this time. When he ended Natalee’s life, he was on his home island of Aruba. Natalee was just another foreign woman vacationing there. Now, Joran is the foreigner and Stephanie is the native of Peru. I think that factor in this murder will count heavily against Joran’s evasion of justice in this case.
The court of public opinion in Peru seems outraged by Joran’s crime. According to The Associated Press, even holy men gathered outside the courthouse to condemn him. “Outside, seven Indian shamans in brightly colored ponchos repeatedly stabbed a cloth doll representing van der Sloot in a "spiritual punishment" ritual. ‘We're punishing him so that all the forces of evil are purged,’ one shouted.”
However, I am still troubled by the puny sentence. The maximum he could receive for murder in Peru is 35 years. Even if he served the entire sentence behind bars, I think Joran van der Sloot will still be a danger to women when he is 57 years old. To make matters worse, Peru traditionally gives a shorter sentence to those who confess to their crime.
It’s hard to know what to hope happens. Do you want Joran’s confession to be heard in the courtroom, thus nearly guaranteeing that he would receive a sentence shorter than thirty-five years? Or do you hope his lawyers succeed in having the confession thrown out and look to the prosecutors to present a strong enough case for conviction?
I tend to think that either way, the courts will not be very forgiving of the foreigner who killed a native citizen, of a man who is believed to have killed another woman in a fit of rage.
We have to count on Peru to take care of business—to finish the job that Aruba could not. If they, too, fail and Joran gets away with another murder, I have no doubt that he will kill again.Tweet