Video: Aruba interrogation tactics

msnbc.com
updated 6/14/2005 12:54:56 PM ET 2005-06-14T16:54:56

Two of the five suspects held in police custody in connection with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway have been released, leaving the three young men who were believed to be last in contact with the Alabama teenager behind bars.

With still no sign of Holloway or any report of physical evidence from the case, two investigators from the Netherlands who specialize in missing persons cases will be arriving on the island with special equipment on Tuesday.

Up to this point, all police have had to go on is any admission from the three suspects, Dutch citizen Joran Andreas Petrus Van Der Sloot, 17, and two brothers from Suriname, Satish Kalpoe, 18, and Deepak Kalpoe, 21.

Having three different people to interrogate creates difficulties and opportunities, according to former FBI investigator Bob Pence, who spoke with MSNBC's Amy Robach about the case on Tuesday morning.

Pence said the fact that the case is under the jurisdiction of authorities in Aruba instead of the United States is one immediate benefit for investigators.

"They do have a distinct advantage in that they have the authority to hold them, where we couldn't really do that in the United States," Pence said. "They have the ability to separate them and the ability to play one story against each other, which is a distinct advantage to the investigators when you have this type of a situation.

"If they are indeed involved or know something about this, you always want to use the strategy of playing one against the other," Pence said. "You want to try to promote some type of admission or some type of a story that will allow you to try to determine who is telling the truth and who isn't."

However, Pence said, investigators always must use caution and not try too hard to coax a confession. "If you have a dominating personality and a weak interviewee, sometimes you can use that personality to make the person admit something. The risk there is, of course, we have heard of cases where they make admissions because they want to tell you what you want to hear. Sometimes, they didn't even do it."

The key, Pence said, comes down to creating a good relationship with a suspect.

"The general principle that you always want to follow is to establish the rapport, to treat them as a human being, to let them know that you care about them, that you understand how these things happen, and you want them to be honest, so that we can get this thing behind them," he said. "That's generally the way that most of the admissions and most of the information is developed."

Without any solid physical evidence, Pence added, the ability of the interviewer can make or break an investigation.

"It truly is an art to get someone to talk about something. They normally want to say something, but they want to be able to say it on a level where they feel they're going to be giving up as little as possible because of the enormous risks involved," he said.

To watch the entire interview between MSNBC's Amy Robach and former FBI investigator Bob Pence please click the link above.

MSNBC Live with Amy Robach and Randy Meier can be seen weekdays from 9 a.m.-Noon.

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