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Joran van der Sloot pleaded guilty Wednesday to extorting Beth Holloway and provided information about her daughter's death as part of the plea deal
For nearly twenty years Beth Holloway has wondered what really happened to her daughter, Natalee Holloway, who went missing on a graduation trip to Aruba in 2005. Today, Joran van der Sloot, the man who has been suspected in the 18-year-old’s disappearance since almost the very beginning – but has never been charged – faced her mother in an Alabama courtroom and pleaded guilty to extortion and wire fraud in a connected federal case.
But the biggest revelations came from Beth herself, who disclosed in a victim impact statement that – as part of the plea deal – van der Sloot, now 36, had finally admitted to killing her daughter, who was last seen leaving an Aruban bar with van der Sloot May 30, 2005.
Beth claimed that van der Sloot – who is due back in a Peruvian prison to complete a murder sentence in the 2010 killing of another student, Stephany Flores Ramírez – recently told law enforcement officials that Natalee had declined his sexual advances after leaving the island bar. Enraged, van der Sloot, then 17, smashed Natalee’s head in with a cinder block, her lawyer, John Q. Kelly exclusively tells PEOPLE. Then, the teenager threw her body in the water, Natalee’s mother said in a later statement outside the courthouse, according to reporters in attendance.
“This confession means we have finally reached the end of this never ending nightmare," Beth said, per a WBRC News reporter.
Kelly called Natalee’s killing a “hands-on vicious, unprovoked execution” that was seemingly an “instinctive act” for a man who would kill two people by age 22.
Van der Sloot was arrested several times in connection to the 18-year-old’s disappearance but never charged. Natalee was legally declared dead in 2012, but her body has never been found.
The statute of limitations for murder in Aruba is 12 years, so van der Sloot will not be charged with Natalee’s murder, despite allegedly confessing to her killing.
Van der Sloot, who pleaded guilty to one count of extortion and one count of wire fraud Wednesday morning, was sentenced to 20 years for the financial crimes.
But a source close to the investigation tells PEOPLE that the fraud charges should have led to his incarceration much sooner – before a second woman was ever killed.
Beth had been seeking answers to Natalee’s disappearance since the very beginning, traveling multiple times to Aruba in search of her daughter.
About five years after Natalee’s disappearance, Van der Sloot reached out to Kelly, offering to give Beth some answers in exchange for money, according to the 2010 indictment obtained by PEOPLE.
By May 10, 2010, Beth had paid van der Sloot about $25,000 – $10,000 cash and another $15,000 wired to his account – in exchange for the “specific location” of Natalee’s remains and the “specific details concerning the manner of her death, how her remains were disposed of initially, and how her remains came to be in the specified location, if moved at any time,” according to the indictment. They agreed that Van der Sloot would get another $225,000 “upon positive identification of the remains.”
But Van der Sloot later emailed Beth and her associates to say the information he had provided was “worthless,” according to the indictment.
"I paid my daughter’s killer money," Beth said in court today, AL.com reports. "That’s shocking. I don’t think anyone can really wrap their mind around what that means."
Kelly contacted law enforcement about the initial transactions, but law enforcement did not immediately intervene, a source close to the investigation tells PEOPLE. And that same month, van der Sloot left the Caribbean island and flew to Peru.
By the end of the month, 21-year-old Flores Ramírez was dead — exactly five years to the day of Natalee’s disappearance.
Van der Sloot – who until this June had been in a Peruvian prison on a 28-year murder sentence for her 2010 killing — later reportedly told investigators that Flores Ramírez had discovered his identity as the person of interest in Natalee’s disappearance while sharing a hotel room together in Lima. The two fought, and van der Sloot, then 22, would later admit to beating, choking and smothering her to death May 30, 2010, ABC News reported that year.
Van der Sloot was promptly arrested by Peruvian law enforcement, and Alabama filed federal fraud charges a month later.
Peru granted the “temporary surrender” of van der Sloot to stand trial in Alabama before returning to Peru to finish his sentence, U.S. federal prosecutors said in a statement this summer. Van der Sloot's sentence in the U.S. will run concurrently to his sentence in Peru, but if he is released from prison in Peru early, he would then serve the remainder of his 20-year sentence in the U.S., AL.com reports.
In addition to his sentence, Van der Sloot must also pay Beth Holloway $250,100 in restitution, WBRC reports.
Attorneys for van der Sloot did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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Read the original article on People.