Suspect in Disappearance of American Teen Arrested for Murder in Peru

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A Dutch citizen who is strongly suspected in the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway has been detained by Chilean police in connection with a killing in Peru.

Joran van der Sloot, 22, was apprehended while traveling by taxi to Vina del Mar, a coastal city in central Chile, and brought back to Santiago.

Van der Sloot is considered the prime suspect in the slaying of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, who was found dead in a Lima hotel where van der Sloot had been staying. He had been in Peru for a poker tournament, and appears with Flores on surveillance video taken by a Lima casino. A hotel employee saw the pair arrive at the hotel together around 5 a.m. Sunday, then saw van der Sloot leave alone, approximately four hours later. Flores was later found face down on the floor of her hotel room, clothed but with signs of trauma to her body, including abrasions on her face. No cause of death has yet been determined.

Van der Sloot is also suspected of being involved with the still-unsolved case of Natalee Holloway, who disappeared during a high school trip to Aruba in May 2005. Prosecutors say that he remains their main suspect in the case, but despite having been arrested twice, he has never been charged.

Just days after Holloway’s disappearance, van der Sloot was arrested along with 21-year-old Deepak Kalpoe and 18-year-old Satish Kalpoe. They were eventually released from custody, but van der Sloot was re-arrested in November 2007, and again released, less than a month later. In 2008, an undercover journalist who had befriended van der Sloot took video footage, in which the Dutchman claimed to have been with Holloway when she collapsed from intoxication, and later to have dumped her body in the sea, but the courts in Aruba ruled the video insufficient grounds for further arrests or prosecution.

Although the mystery surrounding her disappearance garnered a great deal of television and other media coverage in both Europe and the United States, Holloway’s body has never been found. Flores’s killing occurred exactly five years after Holloway’s disappearance, on May 30.

Ann Angela, spokesperson for the Aruba prosecutor’s office, made a statement Wednesday in which she called the recent developments in South America “incredible.”

“At this moment we don’t have anything to do with it, but we are following the case with great interest and if Peruvian authorities would need us, we are here,” said Angela.

 

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