Filed under: Natalee Holloway


It’s a fact — writing for a living naturally robs this blog a little of my attention. I can’t apologize for that — I can actually be practical from time to time, and it’s only practical to let paying work be a priority over blogging for the heck of it.

I did realize that I still do a lot of web-surfing geared towards finding new material, and that a lot of that new material would be most appropriate here, so I’ve decided to do an ad-hoc series of entries where I just hit on crimes that I’ve read about in the news. It may be a random list, it may have a theme — I’ll decide as I go along.


Cockeysville, MD — At one point, Nick Browning was apparently working on becoming an Eagle Scout. Now he’s being held as an adult for the murders of his mother Tamara, father John, and little brothers Gregory and Benjamin. Police in Maryland say the 15-year-old Browning ‘had a disagreement’ with his attorney father that ended in Nick killing everyone with Daddy’s handgun. Nick then ditched the gun in some bushes and went to hang out with his friends. He returned to the house a day later and behaved as if he’d just discovered the murders. Nick Browning is in the Baltimore County Detention Center, juvenile section.

Loganville, GA — Darryl and Cherri Spearman were found beaten to death in their home in Loganville on Friday. By Saturday police had charged Joshua Spearman, 18, with their murders. The Walton County Sheriff said his department had been called to the Spearman home in the past for domestic violence, when Josh was still a juvenile. I’ve received an e-mail from a long-time reader indicating that Josh may have had a bizarre online presence, but I haven’t been able to prove to myself yet that the sites in question were created by the same Joshua Spearman. Any tips about this part of the story with links are welcome.

UPDATE: This appears to be Josh Spearman’s MySpace profile:;

And his MySpace blog:

There are too many scary things in Spearman’s blog to really fit in this part of this blog entry, so a quote from his May 6, 2007 post about his “top 3 people” will have to do:

With out my parents i would not exist. I wouldn’t know the joy of living. The ability to give life is an amazing gift and with out that gift no one would be able to do anything because none of us would be here. My parents have taught me so much that with out there teachings i wouldn’t be able to function. They taught me how to speak, how to tie my shoes… everything. All the basics of human life and i think that counts for something. Ok, it count for a whole lot of something.

Next would be Hitler. Although he did some pretty messed up stuff his motives were noble In his mind he was trying to help his country and rebuild the greatness that Germany once had. Also with out the cruel experiments the Nazis performed we wouldn’t have many of the scientific breakthroughs(like the great improvement on curing aids and things like that) we have today. Also with out them we wouldn’t even have a space program. So Hitler has done some messed up stuff yes, but with out him we wouldn’t have some of the great advances we do today…

In case Spearman’s MySpace Blog in particular goes bye-bye, I’ve made a mirror that can be seen here:


Tinley Park, IL — A gunman killed 5 women in a Lane Bryant clothing store in Tinley Park, near Chicago, on Saturday morning. Police believe the murders were the result of a robbery gone bad. The suspect is still at large and was said to be a black man of medium height, heavyset, wearing a black waist-length winter coat and dark clothing. Only one victim’s name has been released — 33-year-old Carrie Hudek Chiuso, a social worker at Homewood-Flossmoor High School.


GALVESTON, TX — I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking if I’d cover the story of the horrific death of Baby Alijah, and I have to be frank — I can’t always deal with crimes like this. Travis Mullis, a perfect candidate for Useless Waste of Skin of the Year™ if there ever was one, apparently stomped his infant son’s brains out and left the child in a carseat near the seaside in Galveston. Mullis turned himself into police on Saturday in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the route from where Mullis is now to burning in the fiery pits of hell isn’t a straight one (unless Bubba gets to shankin’ post-haste), so we may have to tolerate the idea that he’s breathing our air for a little while longer.


ARUBA — You can comment in an open thread about the new developments (if that is what they truly are) in the Natalee Holloway disappearance by clicking the link on the left. A Dutch journalist is supposed to air what he says is former suspect Joran van der Sloot’s confession detailing what happened to Natalee tonight on Dutch TV. The same special will be broadcast by ABC tomorrow night here in the U.S.

PORTUGAL — In an interview to be broadcast in Portugal on Sunday, the head of the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria (PJ) Alipio Ribeiro, has said that the PJ’s decision to make the parents of Madeleine McCann official suspects in her disappearance was too hasty. This comes at a time when Kate and Gerry McCann’s attorneys are pushing to have the couples’ status as “arguidos” officially lifted.


More quick hits on crimes in the news may be added to this entry as developments warrant.

Natalee Holloway: It Ain’t Over? (OPEN THREAD, Y’ALL)

Radio Netherlands is telling the world that the mystery of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway from the island of Aruba has been solved. Peter R. de Vries, a Dutch TV journalist, seems to think that his hidden camera investigations in Aruba have uncovered what really happened the night of May 31, 2005.

The journalist has turned his info over to the Aruban prosecutors, and he plans to tell the story during a TV special airing on Sunday in the Netherlands. While de Vries has not made a public statement about the past suspects in the case, it is interesting to note that he recently had a televised run-in with the former prime suspect in the Holloway disappearance, Joran van der Sloot. The video of the incident is at the bottom of this post. It took place on a Dutch news program after van der Sloot underwent what he apparently thought was some pretty rough questioning by de Vries.

This is an open thread. So anyone out there not tired of discussing the Holloway disappearance, start yer yakkin’ in the comments on this post.

UPDATE, 02/01/08, 11:44 a.m. ET

MSNBC is reporting that Joran van der Sloot has been re-arrested. Aruban prosecutors will neither confirm nor deny the report.

UPDATE, 02/02/08, 10:33 a.m. ET

CNN corrects the record here. Joran van der Sloot’s arrest has been requested by Aruban prosecutors.

UPDATE, 02/03/08, 11:23 a.m. ET

This blog outlines what it says are the basics of Joran’s alleged confession. Essentially, Joran supposedly told an acquaintance that Natalee died on the beach that night, after sex with Joran. A panicked van der Sloot called his buddy, former party boat DJ Steve Croes. The pair then allegedly took Natalee’s body out to sea on this very boat, where they dumped her, presumably in deep water.

Foxy Knoxy and Natalee

Radar has published a brief update I wrote on the investigation into the November 1, 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy. I encourage regular readers of this blog to leave comments on my posts there (over a week ago, I wrote an overview of the case that Radar published here), but if you prefer discussing it on posts like this at The True Crime Weblog, you may do so. If you check out any of my work for Radar, please consider clicking “Recommend it” at the bottom of each article published there — no registration required for that [note: please, only click one time to recommend any article you like on Radar‘s site].

I won’t be duplicating work between this blog and Radar, and that’s the main reason I’ve posted entries here promoting anything crime-related that the magazine has been kind enough to accept from me (I’ve written a handful of non-crime related posts for Radar‘s “Fresh Intelligence” blog as well). My writing there is a little different style-wise, and (fortunately) gets edited by others along the way, but it’s still basically the same old me.

An interesting observation occurred to me as I wrote this most recent Radar entry, but I didn’t think the observation was appropriate to the item in question.

Natalee Holloway and Amanda Knox are two sides of the same coin, in a way.

Holloway, the Alabama teen who vanished from the island of Aruba on May 30, 2005, is in the news again after the three suspects originally arrested in connection with her disappearance were picked up again in Holland and on Aruba.

Natalee and Amanda — both pretty, both smart. If Natalee were still alive (I have no doubt that the girl is deceased), they’d be the same age. They were both American girls on an adventure very far from home, and those adventures ended in tragedy.

Of course, it is the tragedy in each case that marks where the similarities between the girls cease. No one doubts anymore that Natalee was a victim, in some way. She may have been naive, unaware of just how much danger could lurk even on the sunny, friendly island of Aruba, but in the end, something happened to her, and someone — at least 3 people, maybe more — is/are hiding the truth.

As the story of Meredith Kercher’s murder spins out in the world press, it becomes more apparent that “Foxy Knoxy” may be some kind of predatory, anti-social personality. Reports of her behavior while in jail reflect someone who is, at the very least, not in touch with conventional reality. Amanda’s DNA reportedly being on the handle of the knife that had Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade raises huge questions about her part — if any — in Kercher’s murder.

Essentially, Natalee Holloway went abroad and her fate embodied parents’ worst nightmares. A conspiracy of silence was created around Natalee’s disappearance, and that conspiracy has stood the test of time, so far. Amanda Knox went abroad and became a kind of nightmare. Natalee’s inhibitions may have slipped away a bit as she partied on that island, and someone took advantage of that. Amanda’s inhibitions vanished as she partied in Europe, and she may have victimized another girl, and then become part of a new conspiracy to hide the truth behind the tragedy.

For one girl we have immense sympathy. Since Natalee’s disappearance, only the Madeleine McCann case in Portugal has been more discussed on the Web and in the mainstream media. Everyone perceives Natalee Holloway’s stolen promise and vitality.

But Americans, in particular, don’t seem to know what to do or say when it comes to discussing Amanda Knox. While “Foxy Knoxy,” a Seattleite (who probably rues the day she ever chose that screen name) has been subject to plenty of discussion in Seattle media, other U.S. coverage of Meredith Kercher’s murder seems a little muted. The case is certainly not being ignored, but the reporting here has frequently seemed lackluster compared to the voracious European appetite for news in this case.

It seems like it’s true — over here, we’re much more comfortable with women as potential victims in need of rescue. There are a few of us who find the idea of an attractive young woman being accused of having a role in a gruesome, sexually-charged, psychopathically-motivated crime fascinating, impossible to ignore. But in general, Americans prefer the idealized story, the idealized woman. We are much more comfortable expressing sympathy for beautiful, fair-haired Natalee Holloway than we are trying to understand the mind behind the impenetrable gaze of beautiful, fair-haired, possibly evil Amanda.



Natalee Holloway: Here we go again…

The circus has come back to town.

Natalee Holloway is in the news again.

The three original suspects in the disappearance of American student Natalee Holloway from the island of Aruba on May 30, 2005, have been arrested again in connection with the case. From ABC News:
Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot and two Surinamese brothers, Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in manslaughter and causing seriously bodily harm that caused the death of the 18-year-old American, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Van der Sloot was arrested in the Netherlands, where he is attending a university, and is expected to be extradited to this Dutch Caribbean island. The Kalpoe brothers were arrested in Aruba…
Talk about news coming out of the blue in a case that had gone decidedly cold. At least in the minds of many here in the U.S.A. who covered the case — on weblogs and in the mainstream media.

I had not planned to do much on the computer today or tomorrow, but I felt obligated to note this development in a missing persons case that galvanized bloggers in particular, whether they specifically covered crime or not.

Some of my original coverage of the case can only be read if you follow this link: — “The Vanishing of Natalee Holloway.”

This may be all I post for a day or so, but I’ll be interested to see what readers have to say.