The FBI thought it was closing in on Joran Van der Sloot in the Natalee Holloway missing-teenager case, paying him at least $15,000 in a sting operation, federal officials said Wednesday. But when the agency delayed his arrest to build a murder case, he took the money and headed for Peru, where authorities say he has confessed to killing a different young woman.
WASHINGTON - The FBI thought it was closing in on Joran Van der Sloot in the Natalee Holloway missing-teenager case, paying him at least $15,000 in a sting operation, federal officials said yesterday.
But when the agency delayed his arrest to build a murder case, he took the money and headed for Peru, where authorities say he has confessed to killing a different young woman.
Federal law enforcement officials and a private investigator said the work on Miss Holloway's disappearance was revived about six weeks ago when van der Sloot reached out to someone close to the Alabama teen's mother and requested $250,000 in exchange for disclosing the location of the young woman's body on the island of Aruba.
Aruba authorities have been frustrated in their efforts to prosecute van der Sloot because they haven't found her remains.
The federal officials said yesterday that Miss Holloway's mother contacted authorities in Alabama, and the FBI set a sting operation in motion targeting van der Sloot. He since has been charged in Alabama with trying to extort money from the family. About $15,000 was wired to a bank account van der Sloot controlled, officials added.
Bo Dietl, a private investigator who has worked with an attorney for the Holloways, John Kelly, said van der Sloot received an additional $10,000.
In April, shortly after van der Sloot's father died, he contacted Mr. Kelly and offered to explain how Miss Holloway died in exchange for $250,000, Mr. Dietl said.
Mr. Dietl said that at a May 10 meeting in Aruba, Mr. Kelly offered van der Sloot $25,000 up front, with the rest to be delivered once the body was found.
"He said he pushed Natalee Holloway, her head hit a rock," Mr. Dietl said. He said van der Sloot said the body was buried "near a construction site near their house." But the information proved false, the private investigator said.
"He's lied so much, we don't know," said Mr. Dietl, who has been working with Mr. Kelly on the case.
Van der Sloot has said he left Miss Holloway on a beach, drunk, and denied involvement in her disappearance.
Van der Sloot was the last person seen with Miss Holloway before she vanished during a high school graduation trip to the island on May 30, 2005.
He was arrested but has been released twice because of a lack of evidence. He is being held in Peru in connection with the May 30 killing of Stephany Flores, 21.