By Martin Savidge Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/21/2005 5:10:14 PM ET 2005-07-21T21:10:14

PALM BEACH, Aruba — The investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway, a young American student vacationing in Aruba, is now two weeks old and appears to be at somewhat of a standstill.

NBC News' Martin Savidge, who has been following the investigation, reports on the frustration of the young woman's family, as well as the perseverance of the Aruban people to resolve this difficult case.

What is the latest in the investigation into the disappearance of Natalee Holloway?
Well the investigation, at least from an outside appearance, appears to have stalled, or certainly slowed in progress.

The investigators continue to focus on the three young men who were arrested last week.

It appears, from their interrogations, that they are all telling different versions of the same event and what separates those stories is that each one is implying that they were not there when Natalee Holloway was with the others. So, they are trying to exonerate themselves from the investigation.

Now authorities know that, of course, all three of them could not have been there. Somebody was there and they are still trying to determine who that is.

Now, because of that slow progress, the family is growing increasingly frustrated. They believe that those young men know exactly what happened to their daughter and they believe that more pressure needs to be brought to bear to make them reveal it. 

Beth Holloway Twitty, the mother of Natalee Holloway, spoke with Katie Couric on the 'Today' show this morning about her frustration with the search in Aruba and her belief that three young men that are suspects know what happened. What’s going on?
Well, I think that the family doesn’t feel that they are fully in the loop as to how this investigation is progressing. I suppose you could argue right or wrong that they be told every nuance and detail about a police investigation. The authorities here in Aruba say that they do keep the family well apprised of what’s happening. 

Video: Aruba probe

But, you also can understand how a parent who is going through the worst possible event of a lifetime when it comes to a child — that is losing a child. You are never going to get enough information. You are never going to fully understand until that child is somehow recovered and found.

I think that they are frustrated because the suspects have been in custody for a while — they have been questioned for almost two weeks. And, yet the family has almost no more answers as to what happened to their daughter than when she first vanished on that Monday morning.

There were a lot of rumors about Holloway and the investigation reported over the weekend. How damaging are the rumors to both the family and the investigation?
Well, they are damaging in a sense to the family because they just add a greater emotional burden and also a physical one.

Every time they hear of a rumor that their daughter has being found, or there has been a confession, or there is a body — that means they need to know, of course. Phone calls have to be made, officials have to be contacted and it can become a vicious cycle of just calling and confirming that no nothing has been found. Then, someone else reports something, and five minutes later you are calling the same individual you just called to verify something before.

So, it becomes a very painful round robin for family members and those who are assisting them in communicating with government officials.

As far as the investigation goes, well, it distracts authorities.

They need to focus on either finding this young woman or talking to the people who may know where she is. But, if they have to constantly be responding to the media — and there is a lot of media on this story — answering the phone every 30 seconds is not a way to proceed forward on their case. So, that’s how it is harmful. 

There is clearly a sense of frustration on the part of the family. But what about on the part of the island community? Do the Arubans feel like they are being let down by authorities, too?
No, I think they are very understanding. They certainly can sympathize with the frustration of the family. They have a child that’s missing and you can never find a child fast enough in that kind of case and so they know that.

Video: Mother's plea They also know that investigations take time. I think that what would concern people more, and this is from talking to the people of Aruba here, is if there is the appearance that somehow, due to pressure on the government, they are going out and making arrests capriciously. In other words that they are arresting anyone, just to give the appearance that they are doing something.

That concern actually surfaced very early with the arrest of these two former security guards. At least in the minds of the public, those arrests came very quickly, and they were people that really did not seem likely suspects because they didn’t seem to fit into any possible scenario.    

Since that time, the focus has moved on to these three young men. Like the family of Natalee Holloway, I think many on the island think that these are the people who really know something.

So, they are willing to give their investigators, and the police, time. That’s the way it works. They would not want to see people’s rights harmed simply to give a perception that something is happening and that this case is moving forward.

What was the local reaction to the Prime Minister of Aruba, Nelson Oduber’s address to the nation on Sunday evening? Was it seen as sort of a national pep talk that the world is watching this investigation?
It was widely understood that the prime minister’s speech had a small audience and it wasn’t necessarily the people of Aruba. It was the family of Natalee Holloway and it was to the American and international press.

He was reiterating a commitment that he has made before, promising that everything that can be done, will be done and that this case will be handled fairly.

I suppose it was that angle of the speech that was aimed at the people of Aruba — that there isn’t going to be a rush to judgment, so to speak. But that this case will be adjudicated and followed through fairly.

Part of the concern is that you have a 17-year-old [suspect] whose father is involved in the judicial system. So, the assurance was made that this boy was not going to get any worse or any better treatment because of who his father is.

Martin Savidge is an NBC News' Correspondent. He is on assignment in Aruba. 

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments