Alleged Accomplice Says Joran Van Der Sloot Helped Dig Up Natalee Holloway's Remains and 'Doused' Them with Gasoline

New account places longtime suspect in Alabama teen's 2005 disappearance at alleged burial site

Natalee Holloway’s skull was doused with gasoline and “pummeled” to break it down to fragments and dust by two men, including Joran van der Sloot, who together dug up her buried remains before they were tossed into the ocean off the coast of Aruba, according to an alleged accomplice in the incident.

The startling claim — which for the first time places Van der Sloot, the longtime suspect in Holloway’s 2005 disappearance, on site at the 2010 retrieval of those remains — was made on the fifth episode of the six-part Oxygen series The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, which aired Saturday.

It contradicts earlier claims made by the same alleged accomplice, who previously said during a recorded undercover sting that he alone dug-up Holloway’s remains, which later allegedly were mixed with those of a dog to disguise their origin and burned at a crematory for $200 before they were scattered at sea.

It also raises questions whether any story told by the man might actually produce factual answers or criminal prosecution in the enduring mystery of what happened to the Alabama teen, then 18, who vanished on the last night of a high school graduation trip to the island.

“I’ve been down this road too many times to get my hopes up,” Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway, said on the episode. “If this turns out to be a hoax, then that’s a very sick person.”

The Oxygen series has followed Dave and a private investigator, T.J. Ward, during an 18-month investigation that began when Holloway learned about an informant who said he knew the alleged accomplice and wanted to help solve the case. The alleged accomplice had claimed he acted on Van der Sloot’s behalf to unearth and dispose of Holloway’s remains in 2010, after Van Sloot expressed worry that renewed search efforts for her body might lead to those remains.

That allegation led Ward to set up an undercover sting in 2016 with hidden audio and video in a New Orleans hotel room to record the alleged accomplice, and which produced the earlier — now revised — account.

The theory advanced by the series, as related by the informant and the alleged accomplice, is that during a late-night on the beach with Van der Sloot, Holloway choked on her own vomit and died after ingesting GHB, a date-rape drug. She allegedly was buried with the help of Van der Sloot’s father, Paulus, a Dutch judicial official then living on the island.

Paulus van der Sloot has since died. Joran van der Sloot currently is serving time in a Peru prison for a separate 2010 murder.


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In the series’ latest episode, Dave and Ward’s continued surveillance followed the informant and the alleged accomplice — who at the time were roommates in Florida — to Aruba last March and a spot identified as Holloway’s burial place.

Dave and Ward subsequently alerted Aruban police to their findings. Police did not question the alleged accomplice before he returned from that trip to the United States. He is not currently facing any charges in the case.

After a falling out, the informant later told the alleged accomplice that he was going to alert authorities about his role, according to the series. In response, the alleged accomplice — hoping to reduce any potential criminal penalty — agreed to meet with authorities, and then allowed Ward in a face-to-face meeting to record his version of events.

He was getting paranoid about new searches starting back up, the man says of his friend, Van der Sloot, whom he befriended in Aruba during Van der Sloot’s notoriety following Holloway’s disappearance. “He knew I was heavily hooked on heroin at the time, and I didn’t have the resources to keep it up daily. So he was saying, ‘I’ll give you $1,500 for your help.’ ”

The alleged accomplice said he and Van der Sloot went to the burial site identified by Van der Sloot “right at sunrise, really like barely able to see,” and dug up the remains that were contained in a burlap sack wrapped in a blue tarp.

Looking inside, “I almost threw up right away,” the man said.

“What were you thinking when that happened?,” Ward asked him. “Joran’s there with you too, so what are you thinking?

“That I knew I wasn’t there when she died, and I’m not responsible for the death, there’s nothing I can do with that,” the man replied. “All I can do at this point was try to prove my friendship.

He continued: “Originally he [Van der Sloot] had discussed getting it cremated, but at that time it wasn’t legal but apparently some places, they do it for pets.

“What’d you do?” Ward asked.

“The idea was to crush everything to the point where it’s not recognizable as arm bones or skull or anything like that,” he said.


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When Ward asked whether they burned the remains, the man replied, “The only thing that got burned was the skull to burn the hair fibers. It was doused in gasoline in a fire pit in a cave,” after which the two men “pummeled it throughout a few hours,” he said. “By that night it was disposed of.”

“What’d you do with the remains after that, what was left?” Ward asked.

“We paid a local fisherman to borrow his boat for the night,” the man replied.

“Let me ask you a real sensitive question,” Ward asked, invoking Holloway’s parents. “How do you feel today about Dave Holloway? Beth Holloway?”

The man answered: “I feel bad that if I had an opportunity for them to recover the remains, that I let that slip through the cracks. Now they’re never — they’re never going to be able to bury her … I was obsessed with my friendship at the time, and I was under the influence of heroin at the time. I was not clear-headed.”

Prior to the Oxygen series debut, Dave said his discovery of the alleged burial site yielded human skeletal remains that have since been confirmed to come from a Caucasian of European descent, like Holloway, although no gender has yet been attached to the find he described.

Aruban authorities told PEOPLE they did not find any sign of human remains at the site.

The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway airs on Saturday (7 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET) on Oxygen.

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