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Joran van der Sloot admits to killing Natalee Holloway, judge says

A general view of the coast on May 11 in Noord, Aruba. Dutch citizen Joran van der Sloot has admitted killing American student Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005 in a plea deal with federal prosecutors in Alabama.  (Rob Carr)
By Claire Moses and Christine Hauser New York Times

The man who has long been linked to the 2005 disappearance of American teenager Natalee Holloway described in court documents released Wednesday brutally attacking her on a beach in Aruba after she rejected his advances.

It was the first time that details of Holloway’s disappearance have been made public, and it came after Joran van der Sloot, a 36-year-old Dutchman, agreed to provide “full, complete, accurate and truthful information” about it in exchange for a 20-year sentence on extortion and wire fraud charges.

As part of a plea agreement, van der Sloot pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham to charges that he had tried to extort Holloway’s mother, prosecutors said. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In court, Judge Anna M. Manasco said that as part of the sentencing decision, van der Sloot had confessed to killing Holloway and disposing of her remains, the Associated Press reported.

Van der Sloot has been serving a 28-year prison sentence in Peru for the 2010 murder of a 21-year-old Peruvian student, Stephany Flores. He will have to return to Peru to finish his sentence for that crime as well as another for a drug-smuggling charge.

“You have brutally murdered, in separate instances years apart, two young women who refused your sexual advances,” Manasco said, according to the AP.

Among the court documents released with the plea agreement were excerpts from an account that van der Sloot gave to his lawyer, Kevin Butler, on Oct. 3.

In the transcript, van der Sloot described wanting to be dropped off with Holloway a distance from her hotel so he “might still get a chance to, to be with her.”

He said they began kissing while lying on the beach, but she refused further sexual advances. When he persisted, he said, she kneed him in the crotch, and he kicked her “extremely hard” in the face. At that point, he said, she was “possibly even, uh, even dead but definitely unconscious.”

He picked up a large cinder block and used it to “smash her head in with it completely,” he said.

He brought her to the ocean’s edge in a “half pull, half walk,” wading in up to his knees. “I push her off” into the water, he said, and then he walked home.

Van der Sloot has never been charged in Holloway’s death or her disappearance while on a trip with her high school class in Aruba, the Caribbean island nation and former Dutch colony where van der Sloot was living at the time.

“Today marks the end of 18 years of wondering what happened to Natalee Holloway,” Prim Escalona, the interim U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, told reporters after the hearing.

Beth Holloway, Natalee’s mother, said at a news conference after the hearing that van der Sloot had “finally confessed” and that more details would be made public.

“He is the killer,” she said, adding, “He described when and how he killed her.”

“As far as I am concerned it’s over. It’s over,” she said. “I’m satisfied knowing that he did it, he did it alone, and he disposed of her alone.”

She said his confession “means we’ve finally reached the end of our never-ending nightmare.”

Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported Wednesday that van der Sloot had taken a polygraph and had admitted to killing Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

Van der Sloot was extradited to the United States in June to face the extortion and fraud charges. He pleaded not guilty and was held in jail in Shelby County, Alabama.

Prosecutors said Van der Sloot tried to demand a $250,000 payment from Holloway’s mother, claiming to have knowledge of the location of her remains.

He received only $25,000 from Beth Holloway after providing false information, according to prosecutors.

Last week, John Q. Kelly, a lawyer for Beth Holloway, said that van der Sloot had made a deal with prosecutors and would plead guilty to the extortion and fraud charges. As part of the deal, van der Sloot had agreed to share the information with prosecutors about Holloway’s death, according to Kelly.

Natalee Holloway was 18 when she disappeared May 30, 2005, after a night out during the trip. She has never been found, and a judge declared her legally dead in 2012.

The unsolved case has been the subject of intense public interest, especially in the Netherlands and the United States, including news coverage as well as true-crime books and feature films.

In 2008, a Dutch crime reporter, Peter R. de Vries, organized a sting operation for his television show in which he tried to solve the case using an informant and hidden cameras. Stopping just short of an outright confession on the program, van der Sloot told the informant that Holloway was “never to be found.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.