Aruba case takes new unusual twist


ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) – Authorities appeared to be taking a new tack in the disappearance of U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway, detaining a 19-year-old man who lawyers said Monday has never figured in the case before and isn’t acquainted with the youths previously held as suspects.

The announcement that someone was being held in the disappearance of the Alabama honors student nearly a year ago was the first major development in months in a case that has featured a number of false leads and the arrest of seven people who were later released.

Lawyers for a Dutch youth and two Surinamese brothers jailed as suspects but later released due to insufficient evidence said the young man just taken into custody had not previously been mentioned in connection with the case.

“This may be a watershed moment,” said Joseph Tacopina, who represents Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch teen who was with Holloway in the hours before she disappeared on May 30. “I don’t think they are casually questioning him in this case.”

Holloway family lawyer John Q. Kelly, however, said he was told by Aruban prosecutors that the detainee has friends in common with Joran van der Sloot and the Surinamese brothers.

“The information this individual picked up is information related to the other three suspects,” Kelly said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show. “I was told it’s not a case breaker. It’s one step in the process.”

The detainee’s name has been reported by some media outlets, but Aruban authorities have only released his age and initials – “G.V.C.” He was scheduled to make his first court appearance today.

, the prosecutor’s office said.

Tacopina, who said his investigators had been in contact with Aruban authorities, said “G.V.C” was detained because police recovered a shirt belonging to him with “relevant forensic information” from the south side of the Dutch Caribbean island of about 72,000 people.

The prosecutor’s office has declined to specify the detainee’s alleged connection to Holloway – who was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot and the two Surinamese brothers, Deepak and Satish Kalpoe.

Van der Sloot’s father told The Associated Press that his son has never met the 19-year-old detainee.

“Joran did not know him at all,” said Paulus van der Sloot, a former island justice official who also was detained and later released on suspicion of involvement in Holloway’s disappearance.

Attorney Ronny Wix, who represents the Kalpoe brothers, said he was not yet sure whether his clients know the detainee but he believes they will eventually be cleared of any involvement.

“There is no evidence that my clients have anything to do with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway,” Wix told AP.

Tacopina, who represents van der Sloot in a civil suit filed against him by Holloway’s family, said the detention of “G.V.C.” was good news for his client because it suggested the investigation was heading in a new direction.

“This kid has been under an umbrella of suspicion for 11 months based on no evidence,” he said. Van der Sloot has said he left Holloway, then 18, at a beach near her hotel after they kissed on the final night of her high school graduation trip.

Dave Holloway, Natalee’s father, told the “Today” show he was hopeful about the detention, which came days after the police said they had received dozens of tips after a Dutch television program aired in Aruba and the Netherlands appealing to the public for help in the case.

“It’s a very, very new name that hasn’t even been on the radar screens,” Holloway said. “Maybe it’s a break in the case. Maybe it’s that card that will bring the whole deck down. We don’t know at this point.”

Holloway has been the subject of intensive searches involving Dutch Marines, the FBI and hundreds of volunteers.

Associated Press writer Ben Fox in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.