ORANJESTAD, Aruba -- One of the young men detained in the disappearance of an Alabama honors student said ''something bad happened" to the woman after they took her to the beach, a police officer said, while prosecutors maintained yesterday that the investigation was at a crucial point.
But prosecutors refused to comment on the statement by Deputy Police Commissioner Gerold Dompig, who said the man who made that admission was leading police to the scene. He refused to identify which of the three young men who took Natalee Holloway, 18, to a northern beach the night she went missing made the statement.
Police refused yesterday morning to say whether they discovered anything overnight to solve the mystery of what happened to Holloway, who was last seen in the early hours of May 30.
Police investigating Holloway's disappearance arrested a man at dawn yesterday, but later said he had nothing to do with the case.
The three young men arrested Thursday -- two Surinamese brothers and the 17-year-old Dutch son of a high-ranking island judicial official -- appeared yesterday before a judge, who was deciding whether police have sufficient grounds to continue holding them. Police also have detained two other men, former security guards at a hotel near the one where Holloway was staying. No one has been charged in the case.
Islandwide searches by Aruban police, Dutch marines, volunteer islanders, and tourists continued yesterday, Trapenberg said.
Holloway vanished during a five-day trip to the Dutch Caribbean island with 124 classmates and seven chaperones celebrating their graduation from Mountain Brook, Ala., High School, near Birmingham. Police found her US passport and packed bags in her hotel room after she failed to show up for her return flight that day.
Holloway's mother and stepfather told the Birmingham News in Alabama that they discovered the Dutch boy's connection to their daughter within 24 hours of her disappearance by talking to other students on the trip.
A lawyer for one of the Surinamese -- Satish Kalpoe, 18, whose brother, Deepak, 21, also is in custody -- said they told police they took Holloway to Arashi Beach, on the northern part of the island, in the early hours of May 30. According to their police statement, they did not get out of the car, defense lawyer David Kock said. Instead, Holloway and the Dutch teen, an honors student at the Aruba International School whom she had met at the casino in her hotel, ''were in the back seat kissing."
They also told police that they dropped Holloway at her Holiday Inn at about 2 a.m. and last saw her being approached by a man in a security guard uniform before they drove off, Kock said.
The brothers told police the young woman was drunk and refused to get out of the car, said Noraina Pietersz, who is representing Antonius ''Mickey" John, 30, one of the two former security guards. He and Abraham Jones, 28, have been detained since Sunday.
The three young men said Holloway stumbled in the parking lot of the hotel but refused help from her Dutch escort, Kock said.
Holiday Inn employees say security cameras did not record Holloway's return.