Natalee Holloway Re-Re-Arrests: Where is the Search Fund?

By: Steve Yuhas

 

Right before Thanksgiving authorities in Aruba re-re-arrested Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and authorities in the Netherlands re-re-arrested Joran van der Sloot (actually, he turned himself in, but don’t tell the cable shows).  All are suspected to be associated with the 2005 death of Alabama native Natalee Holloway.  One thing needs to be found out before the story is put to bed.  Where is the search fund?

 

Police believe the three men that were re-re-arrested were involved in her death, but her body remains undiscovered.  The re-re-arrests came as “new evidence” was presented to a court in Aruba, but the so-called new evidence was not new at all and now the Kalpoe brothers have been ordered re-re-released and it is quite likely that a judge will find the same for van der Sloot.

 

The new prosecutor, Hans Mos, is appealing the decision to re-re-release (I’m not stutter-typing) the brothers, but lawyers in Aruba say that appeals of this type seldom succeed.  American legal panel programs have had a great run with so-called new evidence.  Some even had Thanksgiving weekend specials on the 2005 case.  The sad part is that so many in the media have so much invested in the guilt of these three men that anything that buttresses their position is held up as great and anything that doesn’t is dismissed or glossed over in :30 second segments. 

 

Just look at the New York case that went nowhere.  Oh, you missed that?  Seems the New York court couldn’t figure out why the case was there and dismissed the whole thing.  Didn’t see the coverage?  It was there – for about three minutes and disappeared.

 

Not true after the re-re-arrests when every network went all Holloway all the time.  The sad part is that this woman is dead and with a tiny bit of digging using my sources in Aruba I was able to tell my audience on KOGO two days later that there was nothing to the so-called new evidence.

 

I was right and although some in Alabama find my opinions offensive – nobody can argue that I have been right with what was happening as long as this case has been going on.

 

Now, I could sit here on the eve of Chanukah and gloat (consider my humility a Chanukah gift to the cable outfits), but if the people I talk to knew the reality of the “new evidence” then shouldn’t the people who have entire hours devoted to legal issues every day known it too?

 

Stations and programs were happy to fill their air with Holloway again, but if my listeners knew that the evidence was bad it would have been nice for cable stations to tell their viewers.  I know there is only so much to report with regard to the endless hours of yet another missing woman named Peterson or O.J. capers in Las Vegas, but give the people what they’re paying for.  News!

 

There are important issues that have yet to be looked at in the Holloway case, but the re-re-re-playing of who dun it is mind-numbing. 

 

How about a story by a network on something that bloggers have been writing about for a year (and no, I’m not talking about why Beth Twitty cannot seem to keep a husband) – be nice.  Where is all the money from the Natalee Holloway funds (intentional plural)?  Clan supporters say that there were expenses in flying, staying and eating in Aruba, but I know for a fact that many of those expenses were picked up by airlines, hotels and restaurants on the island.  So where are the donations?

 

When Lacy Peterson, the pregnant woman brutally murdered by her husband Scott in Modesto, California, was still missing and her husband became a suspect there were questions raised about the money collected to find her.  The money to find Natalee Holloway was reportedly worth millions and there has been virtually no reporting about where it went, how much was collected and who has control of it.

 

I phoned Tom Twitty, the uncle who was the point of contact for the trust, and he told me that not only would he not share any information concerning the money with me, but that he did not have to give “any information on one dime of that money to anyone.”  Huh?  What an odd thing for the manager of just one fund set up to find a missing woman to say.  I was hung up on with an insult.

 

Rick Swagler, the public affairs person at the bank in Alabama holding the account, told me that the bank does not give out information concerning “personal accounts.”  He did say that the amount in the trust was “quite substantial” and that Tom Twitty was in charge.

 

Now there is a story!  Forget the next re-re-re-arrest story and start asking questions about all of the cash that people donated to find the missing woman.  Outside of bloggers I cannot find one attempt to account for the multiple funds set up to find this woman. 

 

Who knows, it may be completely true that the money is unaccountable to anyone.  But shouldn’t someone ask, particularly people who gave up valuable media time to ask for money?

 

I’m not sure if there were conditions associated with family appearances, but the soft balls lobbed at them from some people were amazing, but they are frequently on television – someone just needs to ask.

 

At one point Holloway’s aunt, Marcia, requested to be on my program because she didn’t like what I wrote.  I agreed to have her on and just prior to going on air she pulled out because I would not agree to limitations on questions.  Was I the only media person that was given conditions for interviews?  I seriously doubt it, but for access some people agree to things that I simply never would.

 

A lot of people who either donated to the many funds have asked on blogs where the money went and some have defended the clan, but blogging is not enough.

 

I find the refusal to talk about all of these funds strange enough since there was never any shyness when it came to asking.  It is also odd that when I asked Tom Twitty about the fund he manages that there was genuine hostility to the question as if everyone in the media must be blindly obedient to this kin (gift to the South for lack of another word). 

 

I honestly thought I was talking to Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazard the way Twitty reacted to my questions about accountability.  I was waiting for a “dem Dukes, dem Dukes” to come out of his mouth.

 

More and more it looks like the re-re-arrests of van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers was little more than a publicity stunt or a last ditch effort to apply pressure to the three men who may have done something awful to an innocent young woman.  Since the investigation has gone cold, but since hour long docu-dramas ran on one network this weekend, maybe a look at the finances of the case would be a good follow-up.

 

Tell me that the same media folks would not be all over this question if there were huge multiple trusts set up to find Stacy Peterson with Drew Peterson at the helm.  Peterson is the retired police officer suspected by many in the media and the police, of being involved in the disappearance of his wife, Stacy, in Illinois. 

 

If you say that the networks would ignore that question fine – I’ll stop asking.  If you know they would be talking about Drew Peterson if he was in charge of a “substantial” amount of money donated to find his missing wife – then I’m validated in my query.

 

Natalee is dead and that is sad, but that doesn’t mean that there are not still questions to answer or stories to tell.  Besides the money I would love to know why no lawsuit has been filed against the so-called chaperones on the trip to Aruba.  I’d also like to know if any conditions were put on other media outlets by the family in order to gain access to them.

 

Don’t worry about missing any breaking news from Aruba.  Next time something happens I will let you know if it is worthy of wall-to-wall coverage.  My sources have been right so often that I might even throw you a few sources for Christmas if you find out the status of all of the Find Natalee funds.

 

Steve Yuhas is a radio talk show host on AM 600 KOGO in southern California and may be reached at steve@steveyuhas.com or www.steveyuhas.com