Aruban prosecutors said Tuesday that they were holding a 19-year-old man on suspicion of involvement in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance.
Authorities appeared to be taking a new tack in the case. The teen's lawyers said he has never figured in the case before and isn’t acquainted with the youths previously held as suspects.
Prosecutors first announced on Monday that someone was being held in connection with the disappearance of the Alabama teen nearly a year ago. It was the first major development in months in a case that has featured numerous false leads and the arrest of seven people who were later released.
Lawyers for a Dutch youth and two Surinamese brothers who were jailed as suspects, and released after a judge ruled there was insufficient evidence to hold them, said the 19-year-old taken into custody had not been mentioned in connection with the case.
Aruban authorities have only released the age and initials — “G.V.C.” — of the most recent detainee. However, NBC News has learned the person in custody is Gottfried Van Cromhout.
He was scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office said.
‘Relevant forensic information’
Joseph Tacopina, who represents Dutch youth Joran van der Sloot, said “G.V.C” was detained because police recovered a T-shirt belonging to him with “relevant forensic information” from the south side of the Dutch Caribbean island.
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.
Ronny Wix, a lawyer 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.
Good news for van der Sloot?
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, the young woman’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.