Aruban firefighters were draining a pond Tuesday in the search for an Alabama teenager who vanished nearly two months ago while vacationing on the island.
Edwin Comemencia, a police spokesman, confirmed that the draining of the pond across from the Marriott Hotel was part of the investigation into Natalee Holloway’s disappearance but would not comment further. A jailed Dutch youth has said he was with Holloway in the area the night she disappeared.
The draining was expected to take up to 24 hours.
Earlier Tuesday, Holloway’s stepfather, George Twitty, said two new witnesses had come forward with information about the night she disappeared.
One witness told investigators that he saw Joran van der Sloot, the 17-year-old who has been jailed as the main suspect, driving to a nightclub across the road from the Marriott Hotel around 2:30 a.m. the night Holloway disappeared, Twitty said.
The witness said van der Sloot tried to hide his face with his hands as he drove to the Racquet Club with two Surinamese brothers, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, Twitty said. The Kalpoe brothers were held as suspects and later released.
‘What’s interesting is the time’
The stepfather said the account places the three individuals near the hotel beach where van der Sloot says he left 18-year-old Holloway alone the last night she was seen in public.
“What’s interesting is the time — 2:30 a.m. — when the three were supposedly on their way home,” said Twitty, referring to their previous accounts to investigators.
The witness, a gardener whose name was not disclosed, gave his account to investigators on Friday, Twitty said.
The Kalpoe brothers first told police that they and van der Sloot dropped Holloway at her hotel around 2 a.m. the morning of May 30. Later, they said they had lied to protect their friend and that they had dropped the Dutch youth and American teen at a beach near the hotel.
Appearance at nightclub?
A second new witness told a private investigator hired by Holloway’s family that she saw van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers drive into the Racquet Club three times that same night. The woman, who lives near the nightclub, has not yet spoken with investigators, he said.
Aruban authorities did not comment on the stepfather’s statements.
An attorney for van der Sloot, Richie Kock, said authorities had not told him about the new witnesses. Lawyers for the Kalpoe brothers were not immediately available for comment.
No one has been charged in the case, and van der Sloot is the only suspect still detained.
Holloway vanished after an evening of eating, drinking and dancing at a nightclub which she left with the three young men, hours before she was to catch a flight home to Mountain Brook, Ala., at the end of a graduation trip with 124 classmates.