Joran van der Sloot: the story of a Dutch killer

How did an 18-year-old boy from the Dutch city of Arnhem become the number one criminal on the Times Top 10 Crime Stories of 2010? 🤔

From an infamous disappearance that made international headlines to the murder of a former presidential candidate’s daughter, Joran van der Sloot has quite the criminal record.

The Dutch criminal was extradited in June 2023 to the US to potentially extend his current 28-year-long Peruvian prison sentence by an additional 25 years.

Van der Sloot is being taken to court for his alleged extortion after demanding $25,000 from suspected victim Natalee Holloway’s family in 2010 in exchange for details about the whereabouts of their daughter’s body — and as of October 2023, he’s allegedly confessed to her murder.

READ MORE | Notorious Dutch criminal Joran van der Sloot confesses to the murder of Natalee Holloway

But what compelled this notorious criminal to commit all these gruesome, heartless acts? His crimes are shocking and disturbing and have had deeply negative effects on so many people — and it all started when he was only a teenager.

Golden child turned cold-blooded killer

On the outside, it looked like Joran had a pretty decent and privileged childhood. He was born in Arnhem to his dad, a lawyer, and his mom, an art teacher. At the age of 10, he moved with his family to Aruba, where he was an honours student at the International School of Aruba. 

Joran was also known for his athletic ability, even competing in doubles tennis with his father at Moët et Chandon Anniversary Cup in 2005.

However, not everything was sunshine and rainbows for this golden boy. After breaking up with his girlfriend at the age of 16, Joran sought comfort in the scene of Aruban nightlife.  

He even moved from his bedroom to his parents’ guest house in the garden so that no one could see what he was up to. Joran’s mother had said that Joran had a problem with compulsive lying and often snuck out of the house to go to casinos. 

No one knew that this seemingly normal young boy would grow up to find himself as one of the most notorious Dutch criminals of all time.

The disappearance of Natalee Holloway

Natalee Holloway was an 18-year-old American woman who went on vacation with her friends, along with chaperones, to Aruba in celebration of their high school graduation.

She graduated with honours from Mountain Brook High School in Alabama and received a full scholarship to the University of Alabama, where she planned to study medicine.

However, Natalee would never board her return flight to the United States, devastating both her family and the world. 

It all began on the night of May 30, 2005, the last day of their trip. Natalee and her friends went out for a night on the town and visited Aruba’s Oranjestad bar and Carlos’n’Charlie’s nightclub. 

Natalee was last seen at around 1:30 AM by her classmates, who noticed her getting into a car with 17-year-old Joran and two other men. 

When Natalee failed to show up for her flight later that same day, the Aruban authorities were notified, and an investigation began. 

Thanks to eyewitnesses and surveillance cameras, the police were able to identify Joran van der Sloot as potentially the last person to see her alive. 

Hundreds of volunteers from Aruba, the U.S., and even 50 Dutch marines joined the search-and-rescue efforts, but Natalee’s body was never found.

Young-female-signing-a-memorial-wall-for-Natalee-Holloway
Memorial wall for Nathalee Holloway just a few days after her disappearance. Image: Mary Thompson/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

While much of the case thus far pointed to Joran van der Sloot as being responsible for her disappearance, he was never formally charged due to a lack of evidence. 

The case officially remains unsolved, and Natalee Holloway was declared legally dead on January 12, 2012, at the request of her father. However, after 18 years, Van der Sloot confessed to her murder, claiming to have kicked and hit her on the head with a large stone. He then allegedly disposed of her body in the nearby ocean.

International attention

Natalee Holloway’s case is one of the most famous disappearances in the world. The case garnered media attention from many U.S. and Dutch television networks.

It was so big that even the famous late crime journalist, Peter R. de Vries, set up an undercover sting operation and recorded a taped confession from Van der Sloot.

In the recordings, he admitted — under the influence of marijuana — to a man he believed to be a drug dealer (actually a petty criminal hired by the TV program for this undercover stint) that Natalee died on the morning that she disappeared.

He claimed that Natalee had a seizure and that he tried to revive her but was unsuccessful. Then, he called a friend to help dispose of her body in the ocean.

However, Van der Sloot later argued that he lied in the confessions in order to impress the man he believed to be a drug dealer. While the recordings were damning, they could not be used to get an arrest warrant for him or anyone else who could have been involved. 

Furthermore, despite the evidence and retracted confessions, van der Sloot was never charged with Natalee’s disappearance.

The murder of Stephany Flores Ramírez 

Stephany Flores Ramírez was the daughter of a highly influential businessman and former presidential candidate, Ricardo Flores, in Peru. She was a 21-year-old business administration student at the University of Peru.

On May 30, 2010, exactly five years to the day after Natalee’s disappearance, Stephany attended a poker tournament in Lima at the Atlanta City Casino. When she failed to return home, her family reported her missing to the police. 

Meanwhile, hotel security footage showed Van der Sloot and Flores Ramírez entering a hotel room booked under his name. 

Later, van der Sloot was seen leaving the room — but Flores Ramírez never emerged. He even told hotel staff “not to bother the girl in the room.” 

But when the hotel staff opened the door to the room, they discovered the young woman’s lifeless body. Her cause of death was ruled to be blunt force trauma to the head, and police found a tennis racquet believed to be the murder weapon.

Motive

Peruvian authorities determined that Stephany Flores Ramírez was murdered because she had been looking at Van der Sloot’s laptop and asking questions about Natalee Holloway’s disappearance. Apparently, he grew enraged and killed the woman.

After the murder, Van der Sloot fled to Chile but was caught by police and was extradited back to Peru for questioning. A week later, he confessed to murdering Stephany but later tried to retract his confession. 

Two weeks later, justice finally came for Joran van der Sloot when a Peruvian judge ruled his confession valid and sentenced him to 28 years in prison for her murder.

He is now rotting away in a Peruvian prison cell, where he has received a lot of media attention over the years. He also married a Peruvian woman who was working and selling goods in the prison and had a child with her. 


Van der Sloot left behind a trail of pain and devastation for two innocent families who still are still from their losses. Natalee Holloway and Stephany Flores Ramírez were both young, bright women who had their futures taken away from them — and they will never be forgotten.

Have you heard about Joran van der Sloot’s crimes before? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Feature Image: Aruba Police Force/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain/Modified.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2022, and was originally updated in June 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Nicole Ogden 🇹🇭 🇺🇸
Nicole Ogden 🇹🇭 🇺🇸
Hailing from the bustling city of Bangkok, Nicole is a Thai/American international student who came to the Netherlands to study linguistics. When she's not reading books or listening to true crime podcasts, she's practising her singing and guitar skills! She is also attempting to pick up the Dutch language (moeilijk).

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  1. I don’t think Joran Van Der Sloot should ever be let out. He’s a serial killer who hates women and he will only do it again. It is irresponsible on the part of any legal system to let him loose on the world again where some unsuspecting innocent will have to pay an horrific price for such misguided leniency. He should have been sentenced to life with no chance of parole, or death. This is a very bad actor who is just full of himself.

  2. This is ALL too disturbing. It makes me vomit. I can say that people shouldn’t be let out of their chaperones sight outside of their own countries. Chaperones in USA know the legal drinking age is 21. The legal age for sexual relations in 2005 was also 18 for both parties. In USA if there was “sex” that could be classified and ruled as “date rape” by the female in that case in USA. The parents are to blame for condoning to allowing their underage child to go outside of the country to party like a rockstar. It is very sad for everyone involved. I agree that there needs to be a body to convict. As well as for the parents to have some justice and sense of closure. I’m NOT on anyone’s side but that young lady should’ve known better than to leave from friends to go with a complete stranger in a foreign country. The chaperones are to blame too for NOT keeping tighter ropes. Don’t leave your country to celebrate your graduation should be what Americans should’ve learned from that. The tragedy in Peru is tragic. That’s horrible. Those conditions where that guy is are NOT right. The boy was a child in both instances. Was definitely mentally ill and should definitely be in a mental hospital in Netherlands. I’d like to see him get to be returned to his country in the Netherlands to get help for himself. Psychiatric treatment. He was far more than obviously mentally incapacitated and incompetent in 2010 due to All that was being said about him in 2005. Wasn’t able to cope. Needed help. Distraught. Too afraid to just ask for help. His dad’s death, of course, didn’t help regardless if he was the cause of it. I pray for all those families. Every single last one of them all had a young child and involved their children. Living their lives. No, it is NOT alright to commit murder. He is NOT a serial killer. He does NOT hate women. He’s married. Has a wife and now a daughter. He needed to be understood and given a chance at life, love, a family, etc. No, I’m NOT saying that that’s what they should do for all people who have murdered. I believe in “an eye for an eye!” It wasn’t plotted. It wasn’t pre meditated. We don’t really know for certain or have proof he even did it. I just believe he should be extradited back to Netherlands to a mental institution for psychiatric help.

    • No nonsense, you are victim blaming Natalee. Sadly there was not enough evidence to convict him and Stephanie Flores died because of this. No he doesn’t need psychiatric treatment, he is a dangerous sociopath. let him stay in a Peruvian jail. I believe he may be extradited to the Us to stand trial there. Let’s hope so.

  3. Yo do not know what you are commenting.
    So we have to put al murders and serial murders in psychiatric help.
    Joran van der Sloot is a serial murder. I hope he will never leave alive of his prison.
    He is a condemned pig and murder. Had the opportunity to mary and fuck in prison and have a child. Another murder perhaps.

  4. I will always wish that he will come clean and tell Dave Holloway where his daughters remains are so he can put her to rest.

  5. He also got an 18 years conviction I believe added to the original 28 years and so he’ll likely never leave prison!!!

  6. Now that J v.d.Sloot has confessed to killing Natalee, why doesn’t the Netherlands try and convict him so that he never gets out of prison?

  7. He’s an entitled psychopath that has no remorse for killing these innocent women. He will do it again. This monster needs to rot in prison for the rest of his life!!

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