Natalee Holloway case: Aruban guide hired by Beth Holloway says island took economic hit after disappearance
EXCLUSIVE: The Aruban guide that Beth Holloway and friends hired in the wake of her daughter, Natalee Holloway, going missing in 2005, says the island has taken an economic hit ever since the Alabama student went missing.
Natalee Holloway disappeared during a 2005 Mountain Brook High School senior trip in Aruba. The primary suspect, Joren van der Sloot, is currently in a Lima, Peru, prison serving a 28-year prison sentence for the killing of 21-year-old Stephany Flores in Lima.
Flores was killed by van der Sloot on May 30, 2010 — exactly five years after Natalee Holloway was last seen alive.
Peruvian officials announced late Wednesday van der Sloot would be temporarily extradited to the U.S., where he will face charges relating to an alleged extortion scheme to get money from the Holloways.
After getting word in 2005 that her daughter was missing, Beth Holloway and a group of friends flew down to Aruba and hired Alberto Groeneveldt to be their guide, and assist them in the search for Natalee Holloway, according to an episode of ABC’s “20/20” that aired in 2019.
In a phone call with FOX Business, Groeneveldt, who owns an event planning business, said that the island has taken an economic hit ever since the disappearance.
He said business in the area has “picked up a little bit” but said, “it’s not like before.”
Specifically, Groeneveldt cited a decrease in clubs in the area, in addition to a drop in cruises that make stops in Aruba. Tourism is “the mainstay of Aruba’s economy,” according to the U.S. State Department, which says that two million tourists visit the island per year.
“It has had a long-term impact on the island,” Groeneveldt said.
The former guide for Beth Holloway and people searching for Natalee Holloway said, however, that the parents are suffering because of the lack of closure.
“They do not know exactly how to close this whole situation,” Groeneveldt said. “We do not know of how to react because everybody wants to find closure, everybody wants to find peace, everybody wants to find out the truth.”
While he didn’t point fingers, Groeneveldt said whoever is guilty of Natalee Holloway’s death “should be getting what they deserve.”
Van der Sloot is being charged with extortion and wire fraud after attempting to sell information to Beth Holloway regarding the location of her daughter’s body.
He allegedly asked for a total of $250,000 — $25,000 upfront for the information, with the rest of the money to be paid out when Natalee Holloway’s remains were positively identified in Aruba, where she went missing.
Prosecutors in the United States allege that he led John Q. Kelly, Beth Holloway’s lawyer, to a site where Natalee Holloway’s remains were allegedly located.
Van der Sloot lied about the location of the remains, prosecutors said in the July 2010 indictment.
In January 2012, van der Sloot pleaded guilty to killing Flores, and Natalee Holloway was legally declared dead that month.
Natalee Holloway’s body was never found.
After van der Sloot finishes his sentence in the Peruvian prison, he’d be taken to the U.S., where he’d then carry out his prison sentence, if convicted.
Natalee Holloway’s mother, Beth, said in a statement on Wednesday that justice is finally being served.
“I was blessed to have had Natalee in my life for 18 years, and as of this month, I have been without her for exactly 18 years. She would be 36 years old now,” Beth Holloway said. “It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.”
Reuters and Fox News’ Michael Ruiz and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.