Joran van der Sloot's Father Was Also a Suspect in the 2005 Murder of Natalee Holloway

Joran van der Sloot's parents moved their family to Aruba in 1990; 15 years later, they both found themselves involved in the Natalee Holloway case.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Oct. 20 2023, Published 1:54 p.m. ET

joran van der sloot
Source: Getty Images

Joran van der Sloot (C), is escorted by Peruvian police as he arrives at the DIRINCRI (Criminal Investigation Direction) office in Lima on June 5, 2010

The Gist:

  • In October 2023, Joran van der Sloot confessed to the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway.
  • Van der Sloot's parents inserted themselves into the investigation.
  • Van der Sloot's father passed away in 2010 and his mother still lives in Aruba.
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In October 2023 after 18 confusing years with few answers, Joran van der Sloot confessed to the brutal murder of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway. She disappeared during a high school trip to Aruba in May 2005 and was last seen with van der Sloot, who finally admitted to bludgeoning her to death. His reason? She rejected his sexual advances.

For nearly two decades van der Sloot would go on to commit more heinous crimes, like blackmailing the Twitts (Holloway's family) in exchange for information about Natalee's remains. At the time of his confession, van der Sloot was already in prison for the 2010 murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Peru where he was living.

His parents both inserted themselves into the investigation of Holloway's disappearance. Here's what we know about them.

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Paul van der Sloot and Anita van der Sloot
Source: YouTube/Law&Crime Network (video still); YouTube/AP r

Paul van der Sloot and Anita van der Sloot

Joran van der Sloot's parents moved him and his siblings to Aruba in 1990.

The van der Sloots moved to Aruba in 1990 after the family patriarch, Paulus (Paul) van der Sloot, "waged a 20-year legal battle against the Dutch government to stop a highway from running through the van der Sloot family estate in Boxtel, a town in the southern Netherlands," per Crime Library. Paul was a lawyer who specialized in government law and van der Sloot's mother, Anita, was a quiet art teacher. Along with his two brothers, van der Sloot grew up in Aruba.

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Kees van der Spek, a Dutch investigative news reporter, told truTV that van der Sloot became violent in his teens and was often aggressive toward his brothers. Paul wasn't a very hands-on parent and would often give van der Sloot money to gamble with at the local casino. "What I do know is that Joran was the boss of his father and mother," said van der Spek to truTV (per Crime Library). "He would tell them what to do and not the other way around."

Paul got a job as an attorney with the Aruban government in the hopes of eventually becoming a judge there, which would later contribute to his involvement in the investigation of Holloway's disappearance. The night Holloway's family arrived in Aruba to search for her, they ended up at the van der Sloot home.

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They were accompanied by two Aruban police who spoke with Paul, per Vanity Fair. Initially Paul led them to the casino where van der Sloot was spending the evening gambling, but by the time they arrived he had already returned home. Police spoke with van der Sloot there, where Paul was protective of his son.

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The van der Sloots were proud of their son.

As the investigation continued into the summer, Holloway's mother and stepfather moved into the Holiday Inn where she was staying when she vanished. One day, Holloway's mother was handing out prayer cards when she noticed she was near the van der Sloot residence. Paul and Anita happened to be outside, and promptly invited Holloway's mother in for a conversation that lasted 90 minutes.

Initially, the van der Sloots "lavished praise" upon their son but soon switched gears and opened up about how difficult he was. Anita confided in Holloway's mother, revealing that van der Sloot was seeing a psychiatrist. "She was saying they were beginning to have trouble with Joran [for a] defiant attitude. The father acknowledged they could not control him. He would sneak out, go gambling, in the pre-dawn hours. They had no control over him," she told Vanity Fair.

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When Holloway's mother suggested that all of Aruba could be released from this nightmare if only the van der Sloots would come forward with what they know, Paul began sweating profusely. It was so bad, claimed Holloway's mother, that Anita had to get a towel in order to wipe up the puddles of sweat.

CBS News reported that in June 2005, Paul was arrested and was a considered a suspect in the disappearance of Holloway. He was released three days later. Per UPI, Paul collapsed and died in February 2010 while playing tennis; it was later reported as a heart attack. Aruba-based Anita was spotted with an unknown man in May 2023 at a local arts center and at her house, reported Fox News.

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