DJ admits false tale about missing teen
Aruba prosecutor says judge told son: No body, no case
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
PALM BEACH, Aruba (CNN) -- A disc jockey who spent 10 days in jail after being arrested and questioned about a missing American teenager admits he lied to Aruban police to protect one of the suspects in custody.
"I heard this guy talking on the phone at the Internet cafe," Steve Croes said. "So my story was like almost exactly as his."
Croes was referring to Deepak Kalpoe, 21, who originally said he and his brother Satish, 18, and their friend Joran Van Der Sloot, 17, drove Natalee Holloway back to the Holiday Inn the night of May 30.
Croes told police he saw the young men drop Holloway off at the hotel.
"So that's why they thought that maybe I was in it," Croes told CNN Wednesday. "But everything that I knew, I just hear it from his voice, when he was talking on the phone."
Croes works on a party boat that docks about 1,000 feet from the Holiday Inn where Holloway was staying when she disappeared.
The Kalpoes later said they dropped Joran and Natalee off at a beach down the road.
When she disappeared, the 18 year old was celebrating her high school graduation in Aruba with about 100 classmates and several parent chaperones from Mountain Brook, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham.
She was last seen leaving a nightclub with the Kalpoe brothers and Van Der Sloot. They were arrested on June 9 and have been detained since.
No charges have been filed against the three, and their attorneys have said the men are innocent.
Police released Croes Monday after a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to hold him. The DJ was arrested June 17 after at least one of the three still being held named him during questioning by authorities, officials said.
A hearing is scheduled early next week to determine whether the Kalpoe brothers and Van Der Sloot can be held for 60 more days.
Prosecutor: Van Der Sloots interfered
Judge Paul Van Der Sloot, Joran's father, was arrested a week ago, but was released a few days later.
Aruba's chief prosecutor Karin Janssen told CNN Wednesday the elder Van Der Sloot told his son that without a body police would have no case.
Janssen said the judge made the comment "some days after" Holloway disappeared in a conversation with his son and the Kalpoes.
Investigators learned about his conversation with the three during questioning of one of the Kalpoe brothers, Janssen said, and when asked about the comment, the judge replied that he had been speaking about such a situation "generally."
In addition, he and his wife, Anita, interfered in the case by asking a friend of their son what he had told police during questioning, Janssen said.
"That was not positive to the investigation," she said.
CNN has tried unsuccessfully to contact the couple and attorneys representing the father and son.
The release of the elder Van Der Sloot was met with chagrin by Holloway's family.
"He definitely, definitely has information that he needs to step forward and be the man that he is and disclose that information," Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, told CNN.
Janssen said criticism of the way Aruban authorities have handled the case "is not justified."
"We have a civilized society. We have a decent law system. We can't book people when we want ... [like] a bunch of cowboys," she said. "We have made some progress, and we are doing it in our way. It is maybe not fast enough for a lot of people, but it is no grounds to have such criticism."
The legal system in Aruba, an autonomous member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, is based partly on Dutch civil law.
Janssen said she thinks island police "are doing a hell of a job."
The prosecutor said the investigation is being conducted around the three suspects in custody, "so we get a clear picture of where they were, and what has happened, and what happened to Natalee." She described the process as "millimeter work" going on "around the clock."
"It's a real puzzle, but we are getting the picture of the puzzle, I think," she said.
Janssen said authorities in Aruba are working Holloway's disappearance as a missing person's case with the possibility of murder, although they have not definitively concluded that the teen is dead.
Mother: Time wasted
Twitty, however, wonders how much time investigators lost checking out Croes' story.
"I think that's sad for him if that's how it truly happened," she said. "I just don't want to waste any more ... energy or focus on the wrong individuals."
Croes said he lied to police because he thought he was helping Deepak stay out of trouble.
"If you were sitting in the cafe and heard the guy, you'd think he was telling the truth, too," Croes said.
Aruba on Thursday was awaiting the deployment of another contingent of Dutch Marines to assist with the search for Holloway.
The Netherlands agreed Wednesday to assign the Marines to the search, joining several hundred others stationed on the island who have been looking.
Also scouring the island is a team of search specialists that arrived last weekend. The volunteer group, Texas EquuSearch, has sent some searchers home, as well as several cadaver dogs, but expects to have new volunteers arrive to continue the search.
CNN's Chris Lawrence, Alex Quade and Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.
|© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.