Last month, Natalee Holloway’s father, Dave, revealed that with the help of informant named Gabriel, he and the family’s private investigator T.J. Ward held an investigation that led to the discovery of human remains in Aruba. Now, in an exclusive interview with In Touch, Dave opened up about how the latest lead has been the most promising yet.

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He revealed that a 2015 lead about the Marriott Hotel led to a crushing blow for Natalee’s loved ones — and at that point, he swore he wouldn’t put his family through the emotionally exhausting process of chasing a lead only to be disappointed again. Dave exclusively told In Touch, “How many of those things can you go through? I swore to myself — right then — that I would never involve my family and lay their emotions out on a lead ever again. And when this one came up, I briefly mentioned it and I slapped my mouth. I said, ‘Look, no matter what, I can’t bring my family into this and expose them to another potential devastation.’ So T.J. and I kept it among ourselves, and I said to myself, ‘If anyone is going to take the fall for this, it’s going to be me. I’m not going allow my family to even know about this and even get involved emotionally only to be crushed again.’”

This latest lead, however, is different. Dave said that he got in touch with Gabriel, the informant, nearly two years ago; as the father of two girls, Gabriel felt “compelled” to help the investigation — and after T.J. spoke to him, there was one vital moment that helped prove his credibility and the two made the decision to go public with this new information — check out the video to see how the P.I. knew the informant was legitimate.

Dave and T.J. are sharing their latest updates as part of Oxygen’s upcoming documentary, The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, which debuts this Saturday. Shortly after his daughter went missing back in 2005, Dave learned how crucial documentation was to finding answers.

“Back in 2005, when Natalee first went missing, the police took the three people she was last known [to be] with — Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and Joran van der Sloot — and they took those statements within 48 hours, and they said they didn’t have anything to do with her disappearance,” Dave explained to In Touch.

“And then they turned around when the media started converging on the island, and there were some comments made that they couldn’t afford to find a dead body on the island. So two black security guards were arrested immediately, and they turned out to be innocent. And the news media was helpful in determining that [the security guards] didn’t have anything to do with it, get the focus back on Joran van der Sloot. About 10 days later, they finally arrested him — and the FBI told us this was turning from a missing persons case, to a homicide case. So ever since then I learned that you better have the cameras involved — or else, it didn’t happen. And throughout all of these investigations, I’ve always had a camera come down and document everything. So when T.J. and I got involved with this, I said, ‘This is just too valuable a lead for some to just mess it up.’ And so we decided that we needed someone to follow us.”

natalee holloway
Holloway family

While Dave has made it abundantly clear that the recent discovery of human remains and Gabriel’s information is promising — and therefore worth sharing with not only his family, but also the public — he admitted he won’t get his hopes up until he gets the results from the DNA specialist about whether or not the remains are Natalee’s.

“You just can’t go there until I see a DNA strand. You have this wall built around a theory — you’ve kind of gotten some closure when Joran was put in jail [for the 2010 murder of Stephany Flores Ramírez], and we had Natalee declared deceased in 2012. You just don’t want to lay all of your emotions out there — because I’ve been disappointed before,” he said, his voice cracking. “I told T.J. that I have got to take the attitude that I can’t go all in, just simply because of the potential for failure. And I’m not going to get my hopes up high until I see a DNA strand.”

And now, they finally got the update they’ve been looking for. Oxygen exclusively confirmed that the DNA has been tested, and revealed that the remains came from a single human of Caucasian, European descent — just like Natalee. All will be revealed in the finale of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, airing this Sunday.

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