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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Arrest in Aruba Connected to Holloway Disappearance
Aired April 17, 2006 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STAR JONES REYNOLDS, GUEST HOST: A new arrest made in Aruba over the weekend nearly eleven months after Natalee Holloway vanished without a trace. An Aruban newspaper says the man in custody is Geoffrey van Cromvoirt, 19-year-old brother of a police officer. Is there any connection to the previous suspect Joran van der Sloot and what could it all mean?
Well we'll ask Natalee's father, Dave Holloway, and the famous forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee; plus, the latest from Aruba and a whole lot more all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Hello everyone. I'm Star Jones Reynolds sitting in for Larry King this evening and we are going to get right. And, joining us this evening first is Dave Holloway, the father of Natalee Holloway, of course, the 18-year-old Alabama honor student who disappeared almost a year ago May 30th in 2005 while on a graduation trip to Aruba.
And, in the studio with me is John Q. Kelly, the Holloway family attorney. We go way, way back.
JOHN Q. KELLY, HOLLOWAY FAMILY ATTORNEY: Way back.
REYNOLDS: Way back. John is handling the civil case for the Holloway family.
Dave, let me start with you. We talked about this brand new arrest, Geoffrey van Cromvoirt. What's your reaction to the news of this arrest?
DAVE HOLLOWAY, FATHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: Well, it's one step forward. The Dutch equivalent of "America's Most Wanted" came on the island and did a show for the Arubans and the Dutch and, as a result, they received approximately 60 tips, possibly up to 100.
And, I don't know whether that was a result of this arrest or what but it's very, very coincidental that the tips came in and then this individual was subsequently arrested.
REYNOLDS: Mr. Holloway, did you ever hear this man's name before his arrest or his detention? Was this someone who was a "person of interest" to the police before?
HOLLOWAY: I had never heard his name prior to his arrest no.
REYNOLDS: OK, I mean what have they told you thus far is his relationship with the case? We've been hearing the word suspect, arrested, detained? Have they told you whether or not they suspect him of being involved versus having information?
HOLLOWAY: All we know is that he's involved in the case in some form or fashion. To what extent we have no idea. Tomorrow will shed a lot of light. I understand that he'll go in front of a judge, possibly tomorrow, to determine how long he'll continue staying in jail.
I'm not going to get my hopes up high on this individual because he was never on the radar screen and hadn't heard of his before but who knows what will happen? We just all don't want to speculate and get our hopes up high only to get them turned down.
REYNOLDS: OK. John, I'm going to actually come to you because you know a little bit about what's going to happen tomorrow. You have a good relationship with the prosecution down in Aruba.
REYNOLDS: What is actually planned for G.V.C. as they've been calling him?
KELLY: OK. Under Aruban law you're allowed to arrest him and hold him for at least two business days without presenting any charges or any proof as to why you're holding him and as of trial that will be the two business days.
What's going to happen is Karin Janssen, the chief prosecutor, will go into court. A judge of first impression is being flown over from Curacao, one of the other islands to hear the case tomorrow afternoon.
And, Ms. Janssen will present what's called the dossier, which is the written documentation supporting her case, the witness statements. They don't take testimony. They present written statements of other witnesses indicating that they have sufficient evidence to hold this individual for another eight days.
And a judge will have to decide whether it's sufficient evidence to justify holding him for another eight days. And then every eight days thereafter, they have to go in again and further justify holding him.
REYNOLDS: So you will be able to know basically by tomorrow whether or not we're talking about a material witness, someone with information, or actually a suspect as it relates to young Natalee's disappearance?
KELLY: Oh, sure. We'll certainly know if the judge doesn't hold him whether there is enough evidence there to warrant holding him for any reason, whether as a material witness or as a suspect and the charges.
REYNOLDS: OK. There's a lot of action happening on the ground in Aruba right now even as we speak. Can you fill us in on that? KELLY: Well, yes, in addition to the arrest that was made over the weekend, which actually did come as a surprise. I was out to dinner Saturday night and I got a call ten o'clock at night from Karin Janssen telling me about the arrest.
Also last week they had been searching the waters off the coast of Aruba, the Aruban Coast Guard, using sonar equipment. They have very specific points of interest in the waters not too far off shore. Ms. Janssen told me both last week and yesterday and today they've been searching these areas again.
REYNOLDS: You know, Mr. Holloway, you mentioned the Dutch version of our "America's Most Wanted," which was a reenactment of what is thought to be Natalee's last hours before her disappearance and the 60-some-odd tips. Do you know whether or not the police and the authorities are continuing to follow up on those tips?
HOLLOWAY: I have no idea whatsoever. You know all of our information goes through the prosecutor, Karin Janssen, and through our attorney John Kelly.
REYNOLDS: What about the names that we have heard over the last eleven months, Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers, are they in any way still connected to the case? What do you know about them right now, John?
KELLY: I know that the individual being held now there's some relationship between himself and the three primary suspects. I know Joran van der Sloot's attorney is saying Joran did not know this individual but that doesn't necessarily mean that this individual doesn't have relevant information about Joran and the others. And, it's my understanding that's where the fit is.
REYNOLDS: OK, so everybody's being very careful about who knew whom.
REYNOLDS: And when they knew them. However, there is some indication that this young man's name actually came up in the investigation prior.
KELLY: Sure. His name, I mean his name had come up during the summer and it's in some of the FBI reports. He's no stranger to the FBI at least. And, the fact that he's been picked up it's not excluding the three primary suspects. It's, you know, in addition to the focus on the three primary suspects also.
REYNOLDS: Mr. Holloway, you said you don't want to get your hopes up but I've actually heard you say that you're someone who clearly hopes for the best when it comes to finding out what happened to Natalee. How do you stop yourself from getting your hopes up when you get yet another tip, another step down this path?
HOLLOWAY: Well, you just remain I guess cautiously optimistic that this person will, you know, provide the information. Just because there's an arrest does not mean that this guy is the key to the house so to speak. He may have some information and he may be the key to it but, you know, if he's not, then you know, you know you fall down the -- I guess you go down the roller coaster ride again.
So, I'm just trying to keep an even keel on it. It is a positive thing. Anything is positive when the police are actively investigating this case. So, you know, I'm just going to kind of just hold back and see what happens tomorrow. If he's detained another eight days, I know that we probably have something but until then, you know, we'll just have to wait and see.
REYNOLDS: You seem to not be numb from every new development. I think that must be a father's love then that continues to keep you going up and down that roller coaster.
HOLLOWAY: Well, you know, back on June the 10th the FBI told us that this was a homicide case. The very next day the Aruban Police, you know, said it was something else, you know, and, you know, we went through that roller coaster ride with, you know was it a homicide case or was it not? And the Arubans continued to deny it for all the way up until I guess October and they finally indicated it was a homicide case.
Then you had the bloody mattress. You had the barrel that was pulled up that, you know, the hair on the duct tape, you know, just the list goes on and on and on. And, you know, you kind of get like you said you get numb to it after some point in time of, you know, is this going to be it? Is this going to be it? And then it's not and it's a big let down.
REYNOLDS: Well, Mr. Holloway, we're going to ask you to stay with us. John, when we come back I really want to get into what's happening with the civil lawsuit that the Holloway family has filed against Joran van der Sloot. Where does that stand? And, why did you put it right here in New York?
We'll be right back. There's a whole lot more. Stay with us.
REYNOLDS: And we are here this evening discussing the latest in the Natalee Holloway disappearance. We are joined by her father, Dave Holloway, and family attorney for the Holloways, John Q. Kelly, here in studio.
Dave, let me ask you now that we've seen a photograph of G.V.C., this latest suspect, have you spoken with any of Natalee's friends whether or not they actually remember seeing him or him being anywhere around that last evening before Natalee's disappearance?
HOLLOWAY: Star, I have not. I just saw the photo late this afternoon prior to coming to the show, so we hadn't had an opportunity to allow those individuals to view the photos.
REYNOLDS: OK, I'm assuming that the prosecution will be following up with that and the investigators. Why don't you take us, John, where does this civil lawsuit stand? You filed a lawsuit against -- the family filed a lawsuit against Joran van der Sloot here in New York.
REYNOLDS: And when he came to do some interviews as I recall and now where is that case?
KELLY: It's -- there's the motion pending in State Supreme Court in New York County, a motion to dismiss based on the jurisdictional issues. We personally served them, gave them personal jurisdiction over Joran van der Sloot. Then his father when they did try to come to -- well they did come to New York and we met them when they arrived.
REYNOLDS: So when they say jurisdiction issues just for the non- lawyers out there meaning why is it in New York when the disappearance happened in Aruba?
REYNOLDS: That's what the fight is.
KELLY: It's complicated. You got two parents, one in Alabama, one in Mississippi, defendants one in Holland, one in Aruba, and witnesses basically all over the world in this case. So, the question is whether it's appropriate for the New York courts to hear this case or it should be in Aruba or some other forum.
REYNOLDS: And the lawsuit is not just against Joran van der Sloot but also against his father, correct?
KELLY: That's correct.
REYNOLDS: That's why you say the two defendants are separated?
REYNOLDS: What kind of chance do you have counselor?
KELLY: You know I'm not going to venture a guess with something pending and a judge possibly watching a show like this, Star. You know I wasn't dropped on my head when I was born.
KELLY: But we feel we've got a reasonable basis for bringing the action and we feel we've got a fighting chance. It's up to the discretion of the court and once you have a judge that's going to exercise their wise discretion you (INAUDIBLE).
REYNOLDS: Thank you for the update. You know, Mr. Holloway, I was just thinking that as we come up on the anniversary of Natalee's disappearance in just over a month there are a lot of families who are sending their children on their class trips. And, I remember you saying you were hesitant when Natalee wanted to go on this particular class trip. What do you say to parents who are going to be sending their kids out on their class trips in about the next four to six weeks?
HOLLOWAY: Well, I was a little hesitant due to a number of reasons. I came from the old school and, you know, we had our graduation trip at a local park or whatever. And, you know, it seems like things go on and they get a little bit more extravagant and, you know, you just finally give in.
But, you know, you got to stop and think when you leave the United States you leave a lot of things behind and when you enter another country you enter their jurisdiction, their laws and, if you're not familiar with them, you've learned a hard lesson like we have learned.
Then also you get into issues. In the United States the legal drinking age is 21 years old and then you bring, you know, a bunch of 18-year-old, 19-year-old kids into an environment with their peers and, you know, you just raise the level of responsibility on them when in the United States we feel like that responsibility level would be 21 years old.
So, you know, you've got to watch things like that and, you know, I'd just asked the parents to be a lot more cautious, continue to warn the kids. You know, we did all those things and, you know, it's just like the example I gave the other day.
I said it's like a mamma duck swimming along with the baby ducks and she's doing everything she can do to protect them and then here comes the old turtle and he snaps one. So, you know, that's all you can just continue to preach to your kids and ask them to be cautious.
REYNOLDS: Well that's very good advice and I'm sure that there are a lot of parents who are going to be very cautious in the next four to six weeks as they send their children off. Mr. Holloway, thank you for joining us this evening.
HOLLOWAY: Thank you.
REYNOLDS: John, thank you for joining us this evening.
REYNOLDS: Please keep us updated on what's happening.
Now, joining us is the distinguished forensic scientist himself Dr. Henry Lee, one of the world's foremost forensic scientists, distinguished professor at the University of New Haven and founder of that program there. His latest book is "Dr. Henry Lee's Forensic Files, Five Famous Cases," and it will be out next month, good to see you again Dr. Lee.
And joining me here in New York is Lisa Bloom, anchor and commentator on "Court TV News," co-anchors with Bloom and Politan, "Open Court" and a very, very prominent civil rights attorney in her own right.
Let's start with you, Dr. Lee. Eleven months and you know the first thing I want to ask you is, is this case cold when it comes to forensics? Is eleven months too long?
DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: The case is cold. When you run all the leads then it becomes cold. Now they're still working on some new leads. Of course, today they found a shirt, a T-shirt on the south end of the beach. So, we really don't know this T-shirt was buried in the sand or just on the surface of the sand or immersed in the water. That can make a major difference.
Of course, forensic evidence is crucial on this case. The first thing we have to establish this shirt is his shirt, so DNA typing is crucial or hair examination.
Second thing we have to link to Holloway, in other words, find her material. It depends on how much DNA. If that's a major large amount of blood stain or single spot or just a hair that can make major differences on this case.
REYNOLDS: Well, I'm going to be coming back to you. Don't you go anywhere.
Lisa, you have been tracking this story since almost the beginning. What's your assessment of the possible implications of this latest arrest?
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: You know we've had seven arrests before this Star, and seven times those suspects have been released. This is number eight. Aruban authorities are very tight-lipped. They say that he's a 19-year-old man. His initials are G.V.C.
Court TV is reporting, as is CNN, it's Geoffrey van Cromvoirt, and we know that he worked the beach patrol, that is that he was supposed to be preventing crimes that happen to tourists ironically.
REYNOLDS: He actually was in the VIP beach patrol kind of group as I understand it.
BLOOM: Right. It was called the High Visibility Team. He has a sister who's an Aruban police officer and his father was the head of security for the video surveillance at the Holiday Inn and that's, of course, the hotel where Natalee was staying. So, there's a lot of intriguing questions.
Every new fact we get in this case, Star, leads to about ten more questions. Hopefully, we'll learn more tomorrow when there is that hearing before the judge to find out whether he'll be freed or whether there's evidence to keep him in. But at this point, that's all we know. He could be held because he's got some information...
BLOOM: ...related to Joran van der Sloot and the others. He could be held because he's a suspect in his own right. We just don't know enough at this point.
REYNOLDS: So, well tomorrow will answer a lot of those questions. And, actually we're going to answer a few of those questions as we continue this evening, so please stay with us. We'll be right back.
REYNOLDS: And we are back discussing the latest developments in the Natalee Holloway disappearance.
And, joining us now Joe Tacopina, attorney for Joran van der Sloot, Joe you and I go back to Brooklyn.
JOE TACOPINA, ATTORNEY FOR JORAN VAN DER SLOOT: The Brooklyn D.A.'s Office, Star, that's right. I had the honor of taking your desk when you left, although it was a big desk to fill.
REYNOLDS: Oh, don't try to butter me up here tonight, not try to start there. Why don't we start with the latest in the Holloway disappearance? I mean you've represented Joran van der Sloot and, of course, are close with his family. What is their reaction to the detaining of Geoffrey van Cromvoirt? G.V.C. is what everybody's been calling him.
TACOPINA: Yes, I mean optimistically, you know, excited but yet reserved in their optimism. I mean, you know, we've been down this road before, not to the degree we have been now, Star.
What's happened in the last couple weeks has quite frankly been remarkable since this new police chief came onboard and seems to have injected some new energy and life into this investigation starting with the placing around the island of Aruba this composite sketch of an individual who attacked an American woman within days of Natalee's disappearance. I mean you have to scratch your head and say "Why wasn't that put up eleven months ago when they had that composite sketch from the FBI?"
REYNOLDS: But it doesn't look anything like this kid as I understand right?
TACOPINA: No, no, no. It's absolutely not this kid based on that description. That's not the -- and I don't know what this kid has to do with this case or not. I mean, look, I know what I've heard. I know what investigators have told me law enforcement has told them. I mean there's a whole bunch of things out there.
My point is though, Star, it seems like for the first time this investigation is saying, OK, maybe Joran didn't have something to do with this. Let's look at these other leads.
REYNOLDS: So, in other words there is some movement. That's what you're talking about. There is some movement in the case.
TACOPINA: There is some movement.
REYNOLDS: Just all from one primary suspect.
TACOPINA: Right and that's a dangerous thing to do to focus on one individual and exclude evidence that points elsewhere.
REYNOLDS: Well why don't we ask the question that there's been a little debate back and forth in the news reports whether or not Joran knows the young man who's been arrested. Does he know him? Has he ever had any contact peripheral or otherwise?
TACOPINA: No. I don't know what the debate is. I don't know -- I'd love to see someone come on and debate me about that. Joran does not know him. They don't go to school together. Joran's never spoken to him.
Here's the information I understand this individual has provided regarding his knowledge of Joran van der Sloot. He met him one time in a bar on the island and they exchanged pleasantries. I mean that is it. That's what I understand he's saying about Joran. Joran doesn't even remember the kid, doesn't know him, certainly never had a conversation with him.
So, you know, I mean it's almost as if well they both have "van" in their names so therefore they must know each other. It's like -- it's warped logic but there is absolutely no relationship here whatever, Star.
REYNOLDS: Well, I guess the theory is it's a very small island. It's not that big and then there is like sort of this six degrees of separation. Because, if you think about it, there's been some discussion that Geoffrey van Cromvoirt is a pal of Steve Croes and everybody knows Steve Croes was the sort of party boat DJ. And, if in fact they were friends, there was a time that Mr. Croes attempted to give some credence to this so-called alibi that he heard, overheard and he was actually detained as I recall for one of those eight day periods. It was a total of ten. So that's why you might have heard sort of the rumblings that there is some connection. Do you at least see where that comes from?
TACOPINA: No. I mean, you know, I guess if Joran knows someone who knows someone who knows this kid therefore they have a relationship is that logic? But, Star, Joran doesn't know Steve Croes. I mean you see, I mean people are willing to connect dots here.
And it seems to me that, look, Joran had every right to be investigated to the degree he was. You know he should have been the main suspect to start with and he should have been going forward. But, it's been eleven months, three countries, Star, have investigated this. There is no evidence pointing to him.
As a matter of fact, there's evidence exonerating him and it's time to start following the other leads, like predators on the beach who have been identified and there are sketches of, like individuals who maybe have some clothing that were found with, you know, forensic evidence of value, who have other things that I think would be a person of interest, like a relationship in the sense that there was a connection between this individual and Natalee before she ever met Joran.
This individual, this young kid, Geoffrey, is the blond-haired, blue-eyed Dutch boy that Natalee was so smitten with. So, you know, here's what I'm saying. I don't know if this amounts to a hill of beans or another false lead or he's just a witness. All I'm saying is buckle our seat belts here. This may be, Star, a watershed mark in this case, a watershed mark in this investigation.
For the sake of Dave Holloway, who just seems like the nicest guy in the world and his family, I hope so and for the sake of my client, who is an 18-year-old kid who's been, you know, put through hell and back and his family, I hope so too.
REYNOLDS: How has Joran dealt with the last eleven months? You know I talked to Mr. Holloway about what this year anniversary is going to bring to him and his family. What about the van der Sloots?
TACOPINA: You know, they've gotten stronger obviously because of this. It's been -- they are such nice people. I had the opportunity to spend four full days with them last week with my team. We went down there and I got to tell you this family is remarkable.
The mother is a schoolteacher. The father is one of the most simple, genuine, sweet people who's obviously image were gutted when he lost everything, including his career over this and was cleared subsequently as you know.
And, Joran who then a 17-year-old boy who is now 18, Star, who has been an honor student all his life in school, who has done, you know, tons of community service, is loved in that community.
I walked around with Joran in Aruba. People, both Americans and locals, came up and gave the kid a hug, not because he's a movie star or something. They gave him a hug because I think they appreciate that at this point he is now a former suspect and he's been through something that none of us should ever be through.
He's been wrongly called a murderer, a predator, and things of that nature and he's a very mature 18-year-old boy who speaks four languages and is a genuinely sweet, sweet young man.
REYNOLDS: Joe, I have to tell you no matter what side people come down on this case, the one thing that everybody seems to agree with is the word tragedy.
REYNOLDS: It is a tragedy up one side and down the other. We want to say thank you for joining us this evening and bringing us your perspective on this latest development.
And, when we come back, we have a panel for you this evening. Lisa Bloom will still be here with us, Dr. Henry Lee. Mark Geragos is going to join us and Stacey Honowitz is going to be here.
We are going to have a little fireworks when we get back. Stay right there.
JONES: And we're back this evening discussing the latest developments in the Natalee Holloway disappearance. We have quite a panel that's going to help us weed through some of these issues this evening. Dr. Henry Lee, the great forensic scientist is going to be joining us. Lisa Bloom, anchor and commentator on Court TV, who has been covering this case from almost the beginning. Fantastic attorneys Mark Geragos, who everybody knows his name and knows his reputation. And Stacey Honowitz, assistant states attorney down in Florida, specializes in sex crimes and child abuse.
But before we get to our panel, I'm going to let them have at in a few moments. I want to get the latest from someone who is there in Aruba. And Jossy Mansur, who is the director and editor of "Diario" which is, I guess, the fair way to put it is the paper of record when it comes to this case. It is Aruba's largest distribution newspaper.
And Jossy, why don't you tell us, what are your sources saying about this new arrest of Geoffrey Van Cromvoirt?
JOSSY MANSUR, DIRECTOR AND EDITOR OF DIARIO (on phone): To begin with, I'm just as surprised as everyone else because his name has never come up before. We don't have any record whatsoever of his being tied to this investigation. When we were informed that he was arrested, we started looking through our files and we found a few folders of him. But that's all we could find. There's no trace of him, no record of him being at all related to this case.
JONES: Now this is very interesting, because as I understand it, he's a part of the beach patrol that was actually assigned out in that particular area during the time of Natalee Holloway's disappearance. So I'm not sure if he was on duty that evening or what relationship he had to that evening. But you might imagine that members of the beach patrol would have been questioned, would have been talked to, their names would have come up at some point in the last 11 months, don't you think?
MANSUR: I think so, but we haven't found his name and we've been following this case pretty closely from the beginning. He doesn't appear. I mean, he's just a new thing that happened causing whatever furor we've seen and causing a lot of interest. And giving the case a whole new twist that we weren't aware of. I know that he worked with the civility team, that we knew. We have had some contacts with his father, but that's all we know about him.
JONES: We know -- I understand that his sister is a member of the Aruban police force, is that correct?
MANSUR: Yes. She was sworn in in August of last year.
JONES: Now what else do you know about this young man who's been detained? We keep hearing that he has been detained and you hear the word arrested. You even hear the word suspect, but I want to be very cautious in using that because we think suspect in one way here in the United States but you all use the word suspect, which could mean material witness in Aruba. What do you know about his status?
MANSUR: We don't know anything about his status because the police is very tight-lipped. The prosecution doesn't give any hints whatsoever, so no one knows exactly on what basis he was detained. I know that he was called in for question. He went voluntarily to the police station.
And when they were interrogating him, they must have found some answers that would fit whatever pattern they had in mind in relationship to this case and they decided to arrest him.
We've been referring to him as a suspect, because in our knowledge of whatever law we have with regards to that, when you arrest someone, it's because you think that he has violated some aspect of law.
JONES: Well Jossy, I'll tell you what, we'll get a lot more answers tomorrow, when this case is in front of a judge, after that two business day rule, as we were just told. We'll know a little bit more tomorrow. We want to thank you for keeping us updated right there from Aruba. And "Diario" has been doing an amazing job in keeping the world informed of what's happening.
I'm going to go to our panel now. And let me start right here with Lisa. Lisa, you and I were talking in the break about this word suspect.
LISA BLOOM, COURT TV ANCHOR: Right.
JONES: Help the audience with that, because it is a difference.
BLOOM: Sure, under American law, if somebody is arrested there must be probable cause, they must be suspicious, something happened. They're a suspect in a crime, right? It's very different in Aruba, a very different system.
First of all, the system is much more protective of people taken into custody. They only release their initials and their age. We figured out who it is, but they haven't revealed that.
And more importantly, the Aruban authorities have said he is not necessarily a suspect. And we have to keep in mind, seven others have been detained and then released. If he's number eight, then his reputation certainly shouldn't be damaged by the fact that he's been taken in for questioning.
On the other hand, Court TV has learned that his name has been in police reports since last summer, that's the summer of '05. Two sources close to the case have told us that. I don't know in what context, Star, I know you're going to ask me that. I don't know whether some wrongdoing is associated with him or he's simply a witness to something, but they have known about him.
JONES: Or that his name was just there.
BLOOM: Well, but they've known about him since last summer. And there are reports there is some forensic evidence on a T-shirt that he owns, but again, we don't know any more about that.
JONES: We're going to ask Dr. Lee a little bit about that. But Mark, you keep hearing that this is another breakthrough, a breaking news. Is this a breakthrough, this young man's detention, if you will?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think anybody knows except the police. Unfortunately, in these kinds of cases, when things die down and then there's any kind of movement whatsoever, and in this case because its in Aruba and just because somebody is detained, does not mean that they're a suspect, people are going to want to put all their hopes or their fears into this action and think that something monumental may have happened.
It may be, but we just don't know. It's complete speculation. At this point, he could be a witness, he could have heard something, he could have heard double hearsay or he could have just, to some degree, when he was being questioned, not given an answer that somebody liked and that was good enough to hold him. So no, we don't know.
JONES: And to hold him for just two days, because that's all we have right now. We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, whether or not they're going to keep him.
GERAGOS: And they get him into a -- they get him in front of a judge and if they say that they've got something that needs further forensic testing, that could be a basis for holding him longer, combined with maybe a statement that doesn't quite give for whatever reason. And next thing you know, under Aruban law, this guy could be in custody for another 15, 20 or 30 days.
JONES: Well Stacey, I'm going to come to you when we come back from this break, because if this is a big deal, if this is a break in the case, somebody has to explain why it took 11 months to happen. Stay right there, we'll be right back.
JONES: And we're back discussing the latest developments in the Natalee Holloway disappearance down in Aruba. Stacey Honowitz, you are a Florida assistant state attorney, better known as a prosecutor in the business. What took so long, 11 months, for this big new break in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway?
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Well, Starr, I think that's the million dollar question that everybody is asking, what took so long? And we actually don't know. Because we don't know what these facts. We are not going to know anything until he goes into court tomorrow morning.
I think there are several explanations. Certainly when Van der Sloot and the two Kalpoe brothers were arrested and they gave conflicting stories, the investigation pretty much stopped there. It honed in on these three guys because the stories were in such conflict. And I don't think much of the other leads were ever followed up on if in fact this kid was ever mentioned in any of the other reports.
I also think what is important is, as you know, they have a show over there that is almost like "America's Most Wanted" over here, and they did a reenactment of what maybe happened on that horrible evening. And I think a lot of tips rolled in after that.
And now finally, with the change in the guard, a new prosecutor, a new chief, all these new people coming in, finally somebody took the bull by the horns and maybe a tip was given, and now they have decided it's time for us to investigate this other lead. But, again, we are going to have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.
JONES: OK. Now I am going to tell you that from -- if you sit down and you say maybe with the change in guard, this is still 11 months later and Dr. Lee, needless to say, if you were called in on this case, you'd have to make some serious recommendations, because 11 months to follow up on a lot of these leads, especially when it comes to forensic evidence, that's a long time.
DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, so far, you know, the T-shirt that is the major piece of evidence in the whole case. The past 11 months really did not find any meaningful piece of physical evidence. Now they found a T-shirt. They must have some evidence linked to him directly. Also they may have found some evidence linked to her. So that's a very important linkage. Maybe the T-shirt was recently found or maybe the T-shirt was found before and never tied to him. So that's why it takes the 11 months.
So we have to wait and see what the report on the T-shirt. And if the T-shirt found her material and in a large quantity of biological material, such as blood, then that can be significant.
JONES: Yes, indeed. Because we know that if we're talking about someone who had contact with Natalee on the night of her disappearance that is going to raise a whole lot of additional questions. OK. Mark, I was listening to Joe, I wanted be prejudice and say spin this arrest, but a lot of people would say spin this, saying Joran -- you know, this is real good information, and they are pleased about it. Because needless to say, the focus and the intensity has been on Joran and his family.
GERAGOS: Any time you have got somebody else who gets picked up who isn't Joran, that's a good day for Joran's defense. So clearly, Joe, he is telling the truth. I don't know why you necessarily want to characterize it as spin, but obviously as long as this guy isn't being held in order to force him to roll over on Joran, it's a good thing for Joran.
I mean from the other hand, if they think he knows something about Joran and they are holding him in there with the idea that look, you want to get out, the only way you are going to get out is to tell us what you know, and he points towards Joran, it could be an awful day for Joran. But I don't see and I don't think anybody else see that's what's happening.
It looks like what Joe said is accurate that this has -- somebody has got a new focus here or that they are going towards some other or in some other direction. That being said, it doesn't that they necessarily have solved the case or that it is necessarily a major breakthrough. You just don't know until you see what the evidence is that is holding him on.
BLOOM: But, Starr, here's the problem. Joran is the last one seen with her. Joran changed his story ultimately to say he left her alone on the beach at 2 a.m. in a foreign country. So what would the new theory be? I mean, let's spin this out, that this beach patrol guy at age 18 just comes along the beach, finds her there and then does her some harm? I mean, that's a hard theory to understand. Possibly.
GERAGOS: If Joran's story is that he left her there, if that was story number whatever...
BLOOM: That's his current story.
GERAGOS: And that's his story, and he left her there. This guy's on beach patrol. They have got him checking in on whatever hour and not checking back in or whatever it is, that's the theory that they're working on. Maybe Joran was telling the truth.
HONOWITZ: I think probably maybe that's what didn't match up when they initially brought him in and they started questioning him. Maybe they asked him about his hours. Maybe they figured out that he was on the beach that night when he wasn't supposed to be and that's why they're holding him.
So, Mark, there's one thing I have to disagree with you on. I think that they could be holding him in order for him to roll over on Joran. This could be a squeeze tactic. You know it happens all the time.
GERAGOS: Yes, but if that were going to be the case, wouldn't you see a number of people to have been picked up already who also were on the beach patrol? My understanding is this is not just one kid who is out on beach patrol. If you're trying to dismantle this story about leaving her, you would have brought in the rest of the people. You would have at least had some indication that they've tried to disprove the story. I don't see it that way. I don't think that there's any indication so far that this guy is rolling and that they are trying to get him to roll.
BLOOM: But the other possible theory is that if he's just a material witness, Starr, then perhaps he came along the beach that night as part of the beach patrol saw Joran and Natalee together, perhaps in flagrant delecto (ph), doesn't want to say anything, doesn't report anything at the time and only later comes forward. Under that theory, he could be held as a material witness.
JONES: Now, the interesting part about it is if in fact this young man or anyone comes up later and they become the primary suspect, I hear two words in the future, reasonable doubt. Because for 11 months, everyone has focused their attention on Joran Van der Sloot. Don't you all go anywhere. We'll be right. We're staying with this.
JONES: We are back, tracking on the latest mews in the Natalee Holloway disappearance from down in Aruba. We'll get back with our panel in a moment but first we'll go to Arlene Ellis-Schipper, an attorney-at-law in Aruba, a member of the Aruban Strategic Communications Task. I will depend on you to help us walk through what has happened thus far with Jeffrey Von Cromvoirt. We've heard he's been detained, arrested, heard the word suspect but not the way we think suspect. What is his status?
ARLENE ELLIS-SCHIPPER, ARUBAN ATTORNEY: The status is that he is a suspect considered in Aruba. The biggest difference between American law and Aruban law, he has not been charged yet. He has been brought in for questioning, six hours, and after that the decision was made to put him in police custody. That this is 48 hours everybody is talking about.
But then a decision has been made again by the prosecution's office to extend that police detention with eight more days and that decision has been made. It has been extended already. Now, the judge of instruction, all he does at this point tomorrow, is a checks and balance, if the arrest is justified. He checks whether he can be qualified as a suspect. Whether he does not qualify as a suspect and then released and whether the arrest has been done with the right procedure.
JONES: Just so I'm clear, does Mr. Von Cromvoirt, does he have an attorney now? Does his rights kick in where he can bring in his own lawyer to start to analyze the case from his perspective?
ELLIS-SCHIPPER: Absolutely. After the six hours of interrogation when the decision is being made, he has been read his rights by the police, who have put him in custody and one of his rights is attorney.
JONES: Now, Arlene, when you say the word suspect I want to be clear, are we talking suspect meaning material witness having information about miss Holloway's disappearance or talking suspect in that he was involved in some way with Natalee Holloway's disappearance?
ELLIS-SCHIPPER: Witnesses are not arrested. You have to be arrested for a suspected crime. We do not know yet which role he is suspected to be played. It can be a minor role. We shouldn't jump to conclusions to say he's now the key suspect. He is definitely a suspect in the disappearance of the Holloway case.
JONES: OK. Arlene Ellis-Schipper, thank you very much for clearing that up.
Mark, it seems like when Mrs. Schipper said don't jump to conclusions, it could be something as simple as what we might call obstruction of justice by not filling the police on what he knew. GERAGOS: Or where he got his shirt from, if he got a shirt, giving conflicting statements what he saw or what he didn't see. Even though they said they don't arrest witnesses, Arlene said they don't arrest witnesses, the line between who's a witness and who is suspect is determined by the prosecutor.
If the prosecutor thinks this person is a suspect and wants to keep them there, they designate them as a suspect. You saw that before with the other four. The fact a person's a suspect now doesn't mean much except the prosecutor wants to keep them there.
JONES: Whoever knew the word suspect would cause such controversy. We'll be right back.
JONES: We're discussion the Natalee Holloway disappearance from down in Aruba with our panel. Dr. Henry Lee, we've been talking forensic evidence. This t-shirt that is found, do you have any specifics as to what was actually found on the t-shirt? Are we talking blood? Talking fluids? Talking Natalee's fluids, the suspect's fluids, what do we know?
LEE: So far we don't have complete information. We solve cases not by speculation or hypothesis. We have to look at the physical evidence. We don't have a direct witness here. They dug up the garbage dump, drained the lake, duct tape did not pay off, the body never found, so now they mentioned a t-shirt.
That t-shirt must bear some important evidence linked to him. Maybe he give a statement says that's not his t-shirt but somehow they found his DNA. Now, it's important to find Natalee's DNA, link this t-shirt. Both people together, and so t-shirt is a crucial piece of physical evidence in the whole case.
JONES: I absolutely agree with you. Stacey, I said when we were going to break, I would hear two words, reasonable doubt if this focus moved toward someone else because for almost a year, you've only heard the name Joran Van Der Sloot. Am I right about that?
HONOWITZ: We all know what reasonable doubt is because we've worked in the criminal justice system and we know what we're talking about. There are cases where someone has been a suspect a long time and for some reason investigation continues and we find out it's not the person.
Right now, you're right, anybody looking at this case, if he gets arrested and ultimately they say he's the one that did this, there's so much to work with, 11 months, it took so long, what's going on? Reasonable doubt will ring in people's minds.
JONES: I'm thinking Mark is sitting out there saying, those are the cases I like, when somebody comes to my guy and says after 11 months of focusing on somebody else's guy, reasonable doubt would definitely be a word he would be using in a courtroom. GERAGOS: You always want to see somebody else has been the focus of a police investigation who has told four or five different stories and everybody's pretty much condemned him and they come along to your guy, especially if there's no rhyme or reason for why they ignored him in the first place.
JONES: Lisa, not to mention the amount of media attention that has been focused on Joran for the last 11 months.
BLOOM: If there is some forensic evidence linking this new guy, this GBC to the case. If he said he didn't see Natalee that night and there is some blood of hers on the shirt, then it's going to be all over for him.
JONES: I'm telling you. Dr. Henry Lee, Lisa Bloom, Mark Geragos, Stacey Honowitz, we really do appreciate you helping to shed some light into what is happening.
Needless to say, we'll be following this case for a long time to come. IT's been 11 months and no resolution yet.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" is up next. Anderson, what do you have on the agenda tonight.
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