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Joran van der Sloot detained for Peru murder

June 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities in Chile have detained Joran van der Sloot as the prime suspect in the murder of a Peruvian woman. The 22-year-old Dutchman has long been suspected in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway. According to authorities, van der Sloot was taken into custody in Chile's capital of Santiago on Thursday. Police had been searching hotels and homes in the northern part of the country.

Police believe he took a bus into Chile just hours he allegedly killed 21-year-old Stephany Tatiana Flores Ramirez.

She was found dead Wednesday morning in a Lima hotel room registered to van der Sloot, according to ABC News. Peruvian authorities said Flores' body was found fully clothed, lying face down on the hotel room floor. Police said she had been beaten and stabbed to death. Cuts were found all over her face and body.

Van der Sloot is the prime suspect in the murder. On "Good Morning America," van der Sloot's attorney, Joe Tacopina, said he hadn't spoken to him for months.

"I don't know if in fact he's innocent or not. I don't know if he's on the run or not," Tacopina said. "Who says he's on the run? He apparently left Peru on Sunday in his own name. I mean, if he were running from a murder scene, he probably wouldn't be so obvious."

Police said van der Sloot had been in Peru since May 14, taking part in a poker tournament. Surveillance video shows him and Flores meeting at the Atlantic City Casino in Lima late Saturday night.

Flores' father, a former race car driver, believes his daughter was stabbed to death. He said police found pills similar to date-rape drugs located inside her car.

Officials believe Flores was killed exactly five years after Holloway's May 30, 2005, disappearance. The 18-year-old from Mountain Brook, Alabama, vanished while on vacation in Aruba and was last seen leaving a bar with van der Sloot on the final night of the high school graduation trip.

Holloway's body has never been found and van der Sloot remains the main suspect in the case, said Ann Angela, spokeswoman for the Aruba prosecutor's office.

Van der Sloot, the son of a Dutch diplomat, was twice arrested in the case, but released without charges due to lack of evidence. Van der Sloot even confessed to the crime a few years ago, but later recanted.

"What he's done the last several years has been despicable, but he sold his story to anyone who would give him money. He was paid for that story, he told another version of events to someone else, who paid him again," Tacopina said.

A spokeswoman for Holloway's mother said the family is aware of what is happening in Peru and in Chile, but at this time, she will not comment.

Thursday, Alabama authorities charged Van der Sloot with extortion. They say he tried to get $250,000 in exchange for giving the location of Natalee Holloway's body.

The criminal complaint against Joran van der Sloot also accuses him of promising to describe the circumstances of Holloway's death.

Authorities in Chile say Van der Sloot is not considered to be under arrest. They say the Peruvian government has only asked that he be held for now. It could take up to five days before he is extradited to Peru.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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