Suspect in teen’s disappearance arrested in killing
LIMA — A Dutch man long suspected in the disappearance of an Alabama teen in Aruba was arrested yesterday in the murder of a young woman in Peru.
Stephany Flores, 21, was killed in a Lima hotel Sunday, five years to the day after Natalee Holloway disappeared.
The suspect, Joran van der Sloot, was arrested in neighboring Chile, where he traveled the day after Flores died. Van der Sloot was taken to a police office in Santiago. He made no comment as he entered, walking calmly and without handcuffs as journalists shouted his name.
Van der Sloot was detained while traveling in a taxi, said Fernando Ovalle, deputy spokesman of Chile’s national investigative police. Chilean police are awaiting instructions from their counterparts in Peru, Ovalle said.
Meanwhile, van der Sloot has been charged in Alabama with trying to extort $250,000 in return for giving the location of Holloway’s body.
The criminal complaint against van der Sloot also accuses him of promising to describe the circumstances of Holloway’s death. The US attorney filed the charge yesterday in federal court in Birmingham.
According to a sworn statement, van der Sloot got a partial payment of $15,000 wired to a Netherlands bank.
Flores, who had been seen with van der Sloot early Sunday, was found Wednesday lying face down on the floor of the suspect’s hotel room in Lima, with her neck broken, Peruvian police General Cesar Guardia said. She was fully clothed, with no signs of having been sexually abused.
Flores was killed exactly five years after the May 30, 2005, disappearance of Holloway during a high school trip in Aruba, a Dutch Caribbean island where van der Sloot’s late father was a prominent judge.
Prosecutors said van der Sloot is still their main suspect in the case even though he was never charged.
Guardia said the 22-year-old Dutchman was in Peru for a poker tournament and appears with the dead woman in a video taken at a Lima casino early Sunday. The two were later seen entering the hotel by one of its employees about 5 a.m.
The victim’s father, Ricardo Flores, 48, is a former president of the Peruvian Automobile Club who ran for vice president in 2001 and for president five years later on fringe tickets.
A lawyer for van der Sloot in New York, Joe Tacopina, cautioned against a rush to judgment.
“Joran van der Sloot has been falsely accused of murder once before. The fact is he wears a bull’s-eye on his back now and he is a quote-unquote usual suspect when it comes to allegations of foul play,’’ Tacopina said.