It’s been more than a decade since 18-year-old Natalee Holloway disappeared without a trace on May 30, 2005, during a graduation trip to Aruba. Now, new details have finally emerged about the teen’s mysterious disappearance.

In the new six-part Oxygen series The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, informant, Gabriel, claims, “[Joran van der Sloot] tried to kiss her, but she was foaming at the mouth. He panicked, and she choked on her own vomit.” (In Touch obtained an advanced screener of the first episode.) He continued, “She died, and within two to three hours [Joran, with help from his late father, judge Paul van der Sloot] buried her.”

Gabriel revealed that Joran, 30, shared the information with a mutual acquaintance named John Ludwick five years after the Alabama teen vanished. “You guys were getting close [to finding the body],” Gabriel explained to Dave — Natalee’s father — so Joran told John,”‘I’ll pay you $1,500 if you go and dig the body up.’ [They] uncovered the body in the national forest, dug it up and took it to the morgue. The body got cremated, and then they threw it in the ocean, low tide. That’s what John told me.”

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Gabriel said that John told him Joran spiked Natalee’s drink with date rape drug GHB before she died, then called his father, who “stomped on her legs and folded her over,” so he could stuff her into a burlap sack and bury her. Five years later, John only had to dig down three feet to find her bones, which “were moldy. There was two inches of black lard from the body… and her blond hair,” said Gabriel, adding that John brought Natalee’s remains to the morgue, where a contact of Paul’s cremated them. Together, he and Joran dumped her ashes into the Caribbean.

“Twelve years and we still have nothing, until now,” Dave said of the exhaustive quest to find out what happened to his daughter. “This is the most credible lead I’ve ever seen.” Upon hearing what Gabriel had to say, Dave and his longtime private investigator, T.J. Ward, launched an 18-month sting operation, which has brought them closer than ever to finding evidence that will lead to Joran’s conviction, as well as the closure they so desperately crave. “Justice,” Dave told In Touch, “will be served.”

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Joran, who is serving 28 years in a Peruvian prison after pleading guilty to an unrelated murder, has taunted the Holloways with conflicting stories for years. He was even charged with extortion and wire fraud in the United States after he was caught in a sting operation for taking money from Natalee’s mom, Beth, in exchange for a lie about where he’d buried the body. But he’s never been charged with Natalee’s death. “If you confess to a crime here you might be behind bars for a long time,” Dave told us. In Aruba, “it has to be in writing and there has to be [supporting] evidence.”

natalee holloway dad

Natalee’s father, Dave, on The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

In the series, cameras follow Dave and T.J. as they use high-tech surveillance and cutting-edge interrogation techniques, which lead to a sit-down with John himself — who admits on camera that he helped dig up the remains. “[Joran] didn’t do it himself; there are some other players out
there,” Dave told us. “It’s just a matter of getting them to the table and proving it.”

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