(NEW YORK) — Joran van der Sloot, the main suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway, pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal extortion charges related to the Alabama teenager’s death and admitted to her mother that he was responsible for her death.
As a part of the plea deal, van der Sloot agreed to a polygraph test and agreed to provide information about Holloway’s disappearance to Holloway’s mother, Beth Holloway.
Beth Holloway said in the Alabama courtroom, “Joran, for 18 years you denied killing my daughter,” and now “you have finally admitted that you, in fact, have murdered her.”
“She would be 34 now,” Beth Holloway said. “You terminated her potential when you bludgeoned her to death.”
“You changed the course of our lives and turned them upside down,” she said. “You are a killer. I want you to remember that every time that jail door slams.”
“Even if you have finally confessed … you can’t be tried here for her murder. But I do employ the court to give you the maximum sentence possible,” as well as require restitution, Beth Holloway said.
Turning to van der Sloot, she added, “By the way, you look like hell, Joran. I don’t know how you are going to make it.”
She left the podium in tears.
Van der Sloot apologized in court to the Holloway family and his own family, and said he hopes “the statement that I provided will provide some kind of closure.”
“I am not the same kind of person today as I was then, I have given my life to Jesus Christ,” he said.
The judge Wednesday accepted the plea agreement and said van der Sloot brutally murdered two young women who refused his sexual advances, but that his confession in the Natalee Holloway case cannot be used against him.
The judge sentenced van der Sloot to 20 years in prison to run concurrently with the Peruvian sentence. He will also have to pay restitution to the Holloway family.
Van der Sloot initially pleaded not guilty to the extortion and wire fraud charges in June after he was extradited to the U.S. from Peru, where he had been serving a 28-year sentence for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores.
Suspicion still surrounds van der Sloot in connection to 18-year-old Holloway’s May 2005 disappearance in Aruba.
Holloway was last seen with a group of young men, including van der Sloot, then 17. Van der Sloot was detained as a suspect in Holloway’s disappearance and later released.
In 2010, van der Sloot was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly trying to extort Holloway’s family.
Federal prosecutors alleged that in March 2010 van der Sloot contacted Holloway’s mom, Beth Holloway, through her lawyer, and claimed he would reveal the location of the teen’s body in exchange for $250,000, with $25,000 paid upfront. During a recorded sting operation, Beth Holloway’s attorney, John Q. Kelly, met with van der Sloot at an Aruba hotel, giving him $10,000 in cash as Beth Holloway wired $15,000 to van der Sloot’s bank account, according to prosecutors.
Then, van der Sloot allegedly changed his story about the night he was with Natalee Holloway, prosecutors said. Van der Sloot claimed he had picked Natalee Holloway up, but she demanded to be put down, so he threw her to the ground. Van der Sloot said her head hit a rock and he claimed she died instantly from the impact, according to prosecutors.
Van der Sloot then took Kelly to a house and claimed that his father, who had since died, buried Natalee Holloway in the building’s foundation, prosecutors said.
Kelly later emailed van der Sloot, saying the information he had provided was “worthless,” according to prosecutors. Within days, van der Sloot left Aruba for Peru.
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