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Aruba investigation comes to N.J.

As the search for Natalee Holloway continues, people from lead suspect Joran Van der Sloot's past are beginning to speak out on his behalf.  MSNBC-TV's Dan Abrams speaks to two New Jersey residents who became friends with the Van der Sloot family.

Dutch police are still holding Joran Van der Sloot in connection with the Natalee Holloway case.  Van der Sloot reportedly told investigators conflicting stories about what happened the night the Alabama teen disappeared. 

Cathy and Shelby Cadmus, a mother and daughter from New Jersey, recently came to the Aruba teen's defense.  These family friends describe his personality and why they believe his story in an “Abrams Report” exclusive.

DAN ABRAMS, ‘THE ABRAMS REPORT' HOST: Tell me how you met Joran?

CATHY CADMUS: Through my daughter Shelby.

ABRAMS: And how did that happen?

SHELBY CADMUS: I was just hanging out by the pool with one of my friends who I came to Aruba with, and I saw Joran hanging around the Marriott with a group of his friends as well.  We were both looking at each other, you know, girl-guy flirtation, eye contact.  We both sort of approached each other at the same time.  We started talking.  We both had the same interests: soccer, music and everything.  So we just hung out pretty much every day by the pool and played monkey-in-the-middle in the pool, normal kids stuff.

ABRAMS: And you got to know him pretty well over time, meaning even when you’re not in Aruba, you’re regularly e-mailing him, et cetera?

S. CADMUS: Yes.  Once I got home, we e-mailed and everything.  I was very infatuated by him.  He’s a very romantic guy.  I mean, he had a list of top 10 things he wanted to do in his life, and number one was “sit under the stars with one I love.”  That’s just the kind of guy he was.

ABRAMS: You say infatuated with him, et cetera.  Did you all date?

S. CADMUS: Yes.  Well, the first night I met him, one of his friends and my friend and I went to the movies together and they paid, a double date, just a fun night, and then just walked around the center of town in Aruba.

ABRAMS: But was that the extent of it?  The question of course is, what is Joran like?  And people have been asking questions about what is he like in that context.  Were you dating him at any point, would you know another side of him that someone who’s just friends with him might not?

S. CADMUS: I mean, no.  I mean, I know just the same as his friends know.  He’s a normal teenage guy who just is living a normal teenage life.

ABRAMS:  And you guys know the parents?

C. CADMUS: I got to know the parents and Joran very well during that week.  He was a very impressionable young man.  He was lovely.  He was open.  What I like about meeting my kids’ friends is that they look you in the eye when they talk to you.

And he did.  He would come over to the pool and talk with my husband and myself, sit and eat lunch with us.  He was lovely and very bright and intelligent, and he would hold good conversations.

Then we got to meet the parents very well over the summer, e-mailing and phone calls back and forth.  Because they were both so interested in soccer, we looked for a soccer camp for them to attend during the summer.

ABRAMS: It’s gotten to the point now where, they came to visit you at your house.  You went back and saw them in Aruba after that. And you’ve been actually staying in contact with Joran’s mother throughout this whole process, haven’t you?

C. CADMUS: Yes, I have.  Even before this.

Actually, we were quite close contact right before all of this happened because I was asking her to send me a map for a friend who’s going to Aruba in October for her honeymoon.  And then all of this started transpiring, and that’s when we were e-mailing back and forth a lot more than we have in the past.

ABRAMS: What has she been saying?

C. CADMUS: Very little.  She doesn’t talk about the case a lot for obvious reasons — she can’t.  And I respect her for that.  She’s being very careful what she says.  She believes in her son.  We believe in him.

I just think it’s impossible to think that this child could do anything that the news media is saying he has done or possibly could have done.  We don’t believe it.         

ABRAMS: We don’t know.  I mean, look, I have no idea what happened, what didn’t happen.  He might get released next month for all we know.

All the authorities are saying is that he has told inconsistent stories about what happened that night, initially saying that he wasn’t even with her — then saying yes, he did drop her off, and now we’re hearing new stories that he’s saying that maybe it was one of his friends who did it, et cetera.

At the very least, they’re saying he’s told a lot of different stories.

C. CADMUS: Well, first of all, in Aruba, all of these transcripts are under lock and key, so nobody really knows what Joran said.

Secondly, my three children said the same thing to me.  If at 2:30, three o’clock in the morning you have the police and a bunch of people at your door, where is my daughter, where is my daughter?  You’re not home.  Your father finds out you’re not home because you’re supposed to be home.

ABRAMS: He wasn’t arrested for many days.

C. CADMUS: No, he wasn’t.  But because they’re questioning where she was, he’s starting to panic, Oh my God, what happened to her?  So he made up this story.  He figured it was easier just to say, I left her at the Holiday Inn. 

I’m speculating.  We don’t really know what was said in the transcripts, nobody does except for the prosecutor.

ABRAMS: Does Anita have any sense?  I mean, does she have a theory as to why he’s being held?  It sounds like what you’re saying is that she believes and you believe that there is no evidence.

C. CADMUS: To our knowledge, there is no evidence.  He’s the last person admittedly to be with her.  They have to find somebody, so the blame is being put on him, because there is no one else.  Who else do they have right now?

ABRAMS: Well, there’s also Deepak and Satish, these two brothers.  And one of the reports that came out was that Joran had actually said in a statement that he thought that Deepak might have done it.

C. CADMUS: I think that’s all hearsay.

I think there has been a lot of speculations and what-ifs.  I mean, I can picture myself, if I was locked up and someone was accusing me of doing something I know I didn’t do — what if this happened?  What if this happened?

ABRAMS: You ever see any violence on the part of Joran?

S. CADMUS: None.  None at all.

ABRAMS: You ever see him drunk?

S. CADMUS: Yes, actually I have.


S. CADMUS: Not violent at all. A goofy, fun, funny drunk.

ABRAMS: He wasn’t one of these people — I mean, there are some people when they drink a lot, they really come to be different people than they were sober.

S. CADMUS: Not at all.  Because I know people who do become different people when they’re drunk, and Joran is not one of them.

ABRAMS: Do you know how often he drinks?  Sort of drinks to get drunk, et cetera?

S. CADMUS: Parties, clubs. Nothing out of the ordinary.  Everybody knows teenagers drink.  They’re going to drink.  That’s how kids are these days.  Nothing out of the ordinary — a normal teenage boy.

ABRAMS: Of course, shouldn’t say ordinary.  All my viewers are going to say, how is it ordinary for teenagers to be drinking, et cetera.

C. CADMUS: Right.

ABRAMS: So when you heard that Joran was being held and that Joran was the chief suspect, what was the first thing you thought?

S. CADMUS: Shock.  Because, I know him.  It’s so weird for me, because why would he do anything when he is the kind of guy, he could — he’s a good-looking kid.  He could have girls approach him easily.  There’s no use for him — he doesn’t have to do anything to get a girl.  He just has to be himself.

C. CADMUS: As a parent, I found him very protective of her, too.  I found a very gentle-type soul.  I didn’t find someone who was aggressive.  And I don’t think he ever got aggressive with her in a romantic sense.

ABRAMS: Did you ever have anyone, you or anyone you know who saw Joran if he’d been rejected, for example?  Was there a temper on him, et cetera?

C. CADMUS: You rejected him at one point and he was fine.

ABRAMS: Did you? 


ABRAMS: Tell me about that.

S. CADMUS: I wouldn’t be as attracted to him and the more, he lived with me for three weeks, so obviously, you know, you start fighting, and just minor fights, “Oh, you left your cereal bowl on the table, you have to clean up after yourself,” just minor fights.  Obviously, we would become frustrated with each other living with each other for three weeks.  And no violence, no anger at all, just very calm and subdued.

ABRAMS: And when you would reject advances, it sounds like Mom is suggesting that there was some point when you were no longer interested in him?

S. CADMUS: Toward the end of the three weeks, I wasn’t interested in him in a romantic way, more of just friends, and we got to know each other more over these three weeks and I saw him as a friend.

ABRAMS: How did he react to that?

S. CADMUS: I think he felt the same way about me.

ABRAMS: But no sense that there was the possibility for outbursts, et cetera, from him?

S. CADMUS: None at all. If anything, he just wanted to hug me and say, “I’m sorry things didn’t work out,” just very cuddling person, a very loving person.

ABRAMS: How did you leave it at the end of the three weeks?

S. CADMUS: Friends.  Kept in touch.

ABRAMS: There’s been suggestions from Natalee’s mother that Joran and his friends would basically sit at this bar and prey on women.

C. CADMUS: You know, I feel sorry for Natalee’s mother.  God knows, I have two girls and a boy, my heart breaks for her.  I can’t imagine. 

But I can take myself out of that picture and look outside the whole picture and the box and say, she’s groping at straws.  I don’t think she has any other answers, and I’d probably be doing the same thing.  That’s all she has to go on.

In order to keep this alive in the media, she needs to keep coming up with ideas and things.

Joran was a very bright young student.  How could he have possibly gotten a scholarship to a college if he was busy sitting at bars all the time the way they’re making him out to be?

He was no different than my three children or any other teenagers I know today.  Well, yes, they partied, they had a good time.  But he knew when to stop and when to settle down and what else to do.

ABRAMS: What about his father, Paul?

C. CADMUS: A lovely man.

ABRAMS: He was arrested.  The allegation, or the suggestion being that he may have provided the boys with information to do something that was...

C. CADMUS: The sad thing with Paul is that when he was first interviewed, I think everybody saw him profusely sweating, they all assumed right away he’s guilty and that was it.

When we first sat down to dinner with Paul and Anita in Aruba, Paul was sweating profusely.  When my husband and I left, we both said, “Wow, he lives here and he’s not used to the heat, and we’re fine.”  That’s the way he was.

He’s also a very quiet man, a very reserved man.  He watches his words very carefully when he speaks.  He did that with us when we sat down to dinner, maybe because his English isn’t as good as his wife’s.  He’s a little bit more uncomfortable at speaking to people.  I don’t know.  I don’t know the answer.  I’m guessing.

But that’s him.  That’s who he is.

ABRAMS: How do you think Joran is faring behind bars?

S. CADMUS: Probably having a very hard time.  I would too.  If I was ever in his shoes, my story would probably keep changing.  I would be nervous.  You’re trying to find an answer as well.

ABRAMS: Based on what you know about him, how do you picture what it’s like for him behind bars right now?

S. CADMUS: I picture him being brave and strong and trying to live through it, doing the best he can.

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.