Natalee Holloway’s family is hoping that Dutch investigators have finally found the evidence that will connect three young men to her disappearance and presumed death in Aruba more than two years ago.
“We’re hoping they have something substantial and can put together the circumstantial evidence that certainly indicates that these three individuals are responsible and have significant knowledge,” Natalee’s uncle, Paul Reynolds told TODAY’s Natalie Morales on Thursday in New York.
On Wednesday, Aruban prosecutors announced that they had arrested Dutch student Joran van der Sloot, 20, and two Surinamese brothers, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, who are 21 and 24 respectively, on suspicion of involvement in voluntary manslaughter and causing serious bodily harm that resulted in the death of the 18-year-old Holloway in the spring of 2005.
The three were with Holloway when she left a bar, where she had been celebrating the last night of a trip she had taken with a group of about 100 graduates of her Alabama high school. They had been suspects from early in the investigation into her disappearance, but have never been charged. Holloway’s body has never been found.
The arrests "just renewed some hopes that the police are going to find answers to this disappearance of our daughter," her father Dave Holloway told Associated Press Television News. Dave Holloway is hiring people to search the waters of Aruba this weekend following the re-arrest of three suspects in the case, an Aruban prosecutor said Thursday.
Dave Holloway does not require official permission and police will not be involved in the search, prosecutor Dop Kruimel told the Associated Press.
She did not say what prompted the upcoming search, and Holloway could not be reached for comment Thursday, but the island's chief prosecutor, Hans Mos, said the father recently told police that he has a clue to his daughter's disappearance.
"We have no indications what he is looking for," Mos said. "Police are not involved because he has information that we don't have ... Anything that helps is fine with us."
On TODAY, Reynolds said of the suspects: “I know the individuals have blamed each other from the beginning. There’s a level of responsibility that all three of them have, whether it’s hindering the investigation, obstruction of justice, maybe we could get into perjury. There’s certainly problems with their behavior that has damaged everyone.”
In April, a team of Dutch investigators had gone to the Dutch Caribbean island to reopen the investigation. They dug up the yard at the home where van der Sloot lived with his parents at the time. He is now a student in the Netherlands. They also inspected the Kalpoe family’s home, but did not say what, if anything they found.
Given the amount of time that has passed since, neither Holloway’s father and his mother, Beth Twitty, nor Reynolds (Twitty’s brother) expected any new developments.
“We’re very pleased that this development has happened. It was kind of a surprise,” Reynolds said. “We’re not sure what new evidence was found. We know there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence that’s been around for a long time in the case of the three suspects.”
“They’ve given us many different stories – dropping her off at the hotel, which was admittedly a lie. Later, various different stories about where they took her, where they left her and how the individuals got home and who took them home.”
Others may have been involved, Reynolds continued. “We certainly feel that they could have had help,” he said. “Not just the three suspects, but the father of Joran gave conflicting reports in the beginning. So, we have a lot of questions and we believe the officials have a lot of questions that those three individuals need to answer.”
Holloway disappeared on May 30, 2005, hours before she was scheduled to fly home to Alabama after the high school graduation trip.
"The public prosecutor's office has ordered their renewed arrest because further investigation into the disappearance has led to new incriminating evidence," the prosecutor's office said in announcing the arrests.
Van der Sloot was arrested in the Netherlands, where he is attending a university, and is expected to be extradited to Aruba. The Kalpoe brothers were arrested in Aruba.
All three young men have denied any role in Holloway's disappearance.
Van der Sloot's mother, Anita, denied her son was arrested and said he was only taken into custody for more questioning. She said he wasn't put in handcuffs.
"What they want to do with Joran is to bring him to Aruba for a final reconstruction," Anita van der Sloot told the Associated Press by telephone from the family's home in Aruba.
She said her family and that of the Kalpoe brothers had also been questioned in recent weeks.
"The questions they asked were so obvious, things like, 'Why did Joran leave his shoes on the beach?'" she said, referring to the place where her son said he kissed Holloway alone before her disappearance. "I think it's ridiculous after two-and-a-half years to be doing this."
The brothers were expected to make an initial appearance in an Aruban court Friday, at which point prosecutors were expected to present the new evidence to a judge. A court date in the island had not yet been set for van der Sloot.
Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor's office, said van der Sloot could be sent to Aruba without an extradition hearing and the transfer would occur "within several days."
Lawyer: Hope rekindled case will be solved
The three were first arrested in June 2005, but a judge ordered their release, citing insufficient evidence. Van der Sloot has said he dropped Holloway off at her hotel and never saw her again.
In April, investigators from the Netherlands dug around the home of van der Sloot's family for two days without revealing what prompted the search. Then in May, Dutch and Aruban investigators visited the home where the Kalpoes live with their parents for what authorities termed an "inspection," without revealing details.
Vinda de Sousa, an attorney for Dave Holloway, Natalee's father, said she has left a message for the family but has not talked to them and is not privy to the new evidence.
"I'm as excited as the Holloway family can be," she said. "Anything new in this case, or any development, just gives you rekindled hope that one day this will be solved. I know the investigation never stopped."
This story includes an Associated Press report.